Category Archives: Recipes

In Just Minutes, Clean The Seeds Out Of A Cooking Pumpkin

Time to get back to regular life.  I have been surprised at how difficult it has been to do things I enjoy. So a simple post to help get things rolling again.

Yes!  I said cooking pumpkin!  (My local farmer’s market is selling them for a dollar each.)  I don’t know if you could do the following with a Halloween pumpkin unless it was big enough to get your hand and the fork inside. Yup, fork! Besides the obvious, a knife, you need a salad type fork and spoon.  If you have a salad serving pair, that works even better.

Tools.

Tools.

Cut the head off your pumpkin.

Cut the head off your pumpkin.

Flip the pumpkin over and cut it in half. Once you're through the blossom spot you can usually wiggle the knife and pop the pumpkin in half.

Flip the pumpkin over and cut it in half. Once you’re through the blossom spot you can usually wiggle the knife and pop the pumpkin in half.

Drag the fork through the seeds.  They will start falling out with very little effort. You will leave behind nearly all the

Drag the fork through the seeds. They will start falling out with very little effort. You will leave behind nearly all the stringy stuff that is so hard to wash off.

This is what is will look like when you're done.

This is what is will look like when you’re done.

Scrape out the stringy stuff.

Scrape out the stringy stuff.

Now you get to use your imaginations!  

You know, make a picture in your head!

(In other words, I forgot to take a picture of the next step.)

Fill the bowl full of seeds with water and stir. The water will be orange, the seeds will float, and any chunky stuff will sink to the bottom of the bowl. Reach in there and scoop out the stuff on the bottom and dump the seeds into a colander for a final rinse.

There may or may not be a couple of orange bits still stuck to the seeds.  Your choice to remove them or not.  I'm not overly picky unless they're big enough to burn.

There may or may not be a couple of orange bits still stuck to the seeds. Your choice to remove them or not.  I took out those two pieces in the middle and ran the seeds under the faucet.

Now choose a drying method! Paper towels or real towels and dump the seeds out to pat them dry.

I like to dry mine on flour towels.  A spatula will take care of those sticky ones!

I like to dry mine on flour towels. A spatula will take care of those sticky ones!

Now pick your favorite pumpkin seed recipe, cook those seeds and enjoy!

Cheater’s Fruit Crisp

There’s nothing like fresh fruit baked with a sweet crumbly topping.  Mmmm. But there are days when you just don’t feel like rinsing and paring and chopping.  You just want some yummy goodness.  Here is a recipe that will get you some of that yummy goodness without too much effort.

Cheater’s Fruit Crisp

  • 1 can (21 ounces) pie filling
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1/2 cup old-fashioned oats (use flour instead if you don’t like the crisp of oats)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar (use white sugar if you want a lighter taste)
  • 1 tsp spice (cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, etc. or a mix of spices)
  • 6 tbls. cold butter
  • 9 inch pie plate

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.  Pour the pie filling into the pie plate and spread it around.

I used peaches this time.  It was cherries 4 or 5 days ago. :)

I used peaches this time. It was cherries last week. 🙂

Mix all the dry ingredients together and cut in the butter till it resembles coarse crumbs.

Your crumbs should not be as chunky as mine.  This is what happens when the butter is too warm.  there is a reason the recipe says "cold" butter! :D

Your crumbs should not be as chunky as mine. This is what happens when the butter is too warm. There is a reason the recipe says “cold” butter! 😀

Spoon over the fruit and bake 30 to 40 minutes.

I like to leave a hole in the middle for juices.  It doesn't always hold though!

I like to leave a hole in the middle for juices. It doesn’t always hold though!

Topping should be brown and the fruit bubbly. Mmm...Mmm good!

Topping should be brown and the fruit bubbly. Let it cool at least 20 minutes so it won’t be too runny.  Mmm…Mmm good!

NOTES

  • If you want a thicker crust, just bump the dry ingredients from 1/2 cup to 3/4 cup and bump the butter to 8 tbls. (1/2 cup).
  • Don’t be afraid to mix spices in the crust.  I used cinnamon and nutmeg with the peaches.
  • refrigerate any leftovers.
  • I just throw this into the microwave to reheat!
  • Feel free to serve with whipped cream or ice cream!

I hope you enjoy this as much as I do! (She says while drinking hot tea and eating peach crisp.)

Broiled Chicken With Rosemary And Lemon

Sometimes you just don’t want a complicated dish to make for dinner.  Broiled chicken fits that bill.  But a quick dash of salt and pepper can get a little stale.  So add a little zing with some rosemary and lemon.

Broiled Chicken With Rosemary And Lemon

  • 2 chicken breasts
  • 2 Tbls. butter
  • 2 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1 Tbls. lemon juice

Put the rosemary in a dish with the butter and microwave it till the butter is melted and hot.  This will help the rosemary flavor spread in the butter a bit.  I also like to stick the rosemary in a cup first and break it up a bit with the blunt end of a knife. This does not work in a bowl.  The rosemary likes to jump out of the bowl and run away. 🙂

While that sits, prep the chicken.  Put the breasts on the broiling pan upside down and spread them out.  If they are large and one end is significantly thicker than the other, put some cuts part way through to help thin and spread that end out. This will also help them cook faster.

This is the side that will cook the longest so you want all those nooks and crannies to fill with goodness.

This is the side that will cook the longest so you want all those nooks and crannies to fill with goodness.

Put the chicken breasts under the broiler for roughly 5 minutes till they are dry.  The butter will stick better this way.  In the meantime, add the lemon juice to the butter and mix.

The cold lemon juice will help cool and solidify the butter a bit.  That's okay.

The cold lemon juice will help cool and solidify the butter a bit. That’s okay.

Once the chicken is dry, pull it out and slather the butter on, filling the nooks and crannies.

Don't forget to leave some butter for the other side.  And if you want, you can hit the breasts with some salt and pepper.

Don’t forget to leave some butter for the other side. And if you want, you can hit the breasts with some salt and pepper.

Cook the breasts till the edges are brown and then turn them over and brush with the butter mix as well.  Cook the breasts till brown and a cut in the chicken shows no pink and juices are clear. Cooking time varies depending on the size of the breasts.  I like to flip them back over and run the butter brush over them one more time and cook slash crisp up that first side till everything is sizzling again.

Enjoy!

Enjoy!  (That white blotch on the left breast is glare.  No matter how I took a picture of these I couldn’t get rid of that spot!!!  GRRRRR!!!)

Don’t forget! You can always play with the amount of ingredients to suit yourself!

Recipes and a cat

Happy Thanksgiving!  So I found some spare time today while waiting for my turkey to cook and I figured that I would finally get around to writing up the post that I promised I would do.  I know that my mom wants some of the recipes I’ve talked about and hopefully some of you also find them appealing. (all credit goes to the people and places listed)

1) Amish White Bread.  I call this sweet bread because it is somewhere in between bread and cake in its sweetness level.  Everyone who has tried this has loved it and it makes an amazing french toast.     http://allrecipes.com/recipe/amish-white-bread/

2) Italian Bread.  Here is an awesome recipe that I found for Italian bread.    http://breadbaking.about.com/od/yeastbreads/r/itallybrd.htm

3)  Peasant Bread.  My aunt actually showed me this one.  It’s from Alexandra Cooks and is simply delicious.   http://www.alexandracooks.com/2012/11/07/my-mothers-peasant-bread-the-best-easiest-bread-you-will-ever-make/

4)  This is actually just a variation on my mom’s potato soup found here: https://crittersandchaos.wordpress.com/2012/06/05/delicious-berries-posting-takes-sooo-much-time-recipes-for-saver/

Here are the additions I make: 1 can of green beans and 1 shredded chicken breast.  I cook the chicken before hand, shred it and then add it when mixing everything together.

Now we got a little crazy at the house here one time and made a truly loaded potato soup.  For that we added the above ingredients and also one box of sauteed mini pierogies.  Yeah I know it’s potato in potato soup, but it was still tasty.

That’s it for my recipes, now for the more exciting news: I now have a cat! His name is Armel and he is adorable.

This is one of the few times he held still for a portrait shot.

This is one of the few times he held still for a portrait shot.

What follows will simply be a series of adorable cat photos.

Look how adorable.

Look how adorable.

Sometimes he consents to being a lap cat.

Sometimes he consents to being a lap cat.

And like all cats you must not ignore him for the computer.

And like all cats you must not ignore him for the computer.

The one thing he will always love to do is play.

The one thing he will always love to do is play.

And that is Armel.  He is adorable and troublesome, but totally worth it.

Simple Muffins

The past few weeks have sucked big time.  Too many sick and dying animals.  I will write more about that later, but right now I’m just not up to it.

In the mean time, I have been drowning my sorrows in ice cream and cake.  Store bought.  So I’m trying to get back to making my own junk food.  This muffin recipe is quick and easy and tasty.  They’re good with tea or out of hand or better than toast with your breakfast (nuke them in the microwave for 15 seconds to heat them up).

Yeah, we had already started snacking on these by the time I realized the first photos I had taken were blurry.  I usually like mine a tad bit lighter than these.  My husband laughed and said, "More for me!"  Um, they're not THAT dark! :D

Yeah, we had already started snacking on these by the time I realized the first photos I had taken were blurry. I usually like mine a tad bit lighter than these. My husband laughed and said, “More for me!”  Um, they’re not THAT dark! 😀

Simple Muffins

These are muffins that my mother used to make when I was a kid.

  • 2 cups of flour
  • 1/4 cup of sugar
  • 3 tsp. of baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. of salt
  • cinnamon and sugar mix
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil (I use canola)
  • 1 egg

Put rack in the center of the oven and heat to 400 degrees F.

Mix all the dry ingredients together EXCEPT the cinnamon and sugar mix.  In another bowl, beat the egg and oil together then add the milk and stir.  Add the wet ingredients to the dry and stir, do not beat, until just combined.  Fill muffin cups 3/4 of the way with batter.  Sprinkle as much or as little cinnamon and sugar on top of the muffins as you wish.  Bake 20 – 25 minutes.  Toothpick inserted into the center of muffin should come out clean.  Cool in pan on trivet or wire rack for 7 minutes and then remove and finish cooling on a wire rack.  Or serve warm (yum).  A narrow spatula run around the edge of the muffins will help loosen them from the pan.  For me, this makes 10 muffins.

Note: If you don’t have cinnamon and sugar already made, start with, say, 3 tbls. sugar and 1/2 tsp. cinnamon.  Mix and taste and adjust to your liking.  There are no rules here.  Make what you like.

ENJOY!

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

I love these things.  They start disappearing as soon as they come out of the oven.  Eat them as your veggie with dinner.  Toast/broil some bread, add Garlic Paste, these tomatoes, top with cheese and put them under the broiler for a quicky bruschetta type yummy.  Saute some pasta with olive oil and garlic and at the end throw some chopped up slow-roasted tomatoes in and cook till they’re just heated through.  Put them in a salad.  I mean, what can’t you do with these?

Slow-Roasted Tomatoes

from The Herbfarm Cookbook by Jerry Traunfeld

  • 2 pounds plum tomatoes (12 to 14)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh English thyme leaves

Preheat the oven to 250 degrees F.  Cut the tomatoes lengthwise in half and remove the seeds by poking them out with your fingertip.  Toss the tomato halves with the oil, salt, sugar, and thyme in a bowl.  Spread them out cut side up on a baking sheet.  Bake the tomatoes until they are slightly browned on the edges, the skins have wrinkled, and they have the texture of a soft prune, 2 to 3 hours.  The baking time varies greatly depending on the ripeness and juiciness of the tomatoes.

MY NOTES

  • You can use Roma instead of plum tomatoes.  Anything meaty will do.
  • You don’t have to use your fingers to get the seeds out.  A knife or narrow spoon will do.  Just don’t get scrape happy.  And if the seeds are loose, sometimes you can just shake them out.
  • I like to put all the ingredients in a dish and microwave them for 40 seconds to a minute to heat the oil and help the flavors infuse before I even begin cutting up the tomatoes.
  • Though fresh is always best, 1 teaspoon of ground thyme will work instead of fresh.  (Winter sucks.)
  • I like to double the ingredients so I have something to drizzle into the tomato halves.  However, the tomatoes won’t shrivel as much unless you cook them longer.  I prefer them less shriveled.
  • A wide slotted spoon is great for tossing and putting the tomatoes onto the baking sheet.  They’re slippery little suckers when oiled!
All cut up!  I left these sit too long after bringing them home from the Farmer's Market and some had started to go bad.  AND there was a WORM in there helping himself!  So that's why there are pieces of tomatoes in there.

All cut up! I left these sit too long after bringing them home from the Farmer’s Market and some had started to go bad. AND there was a WORM in there helping himself! So that’s why there are pieces of tomatoes in there.

Heated and stirred a couple of times.  I whisk briskly to mix as I pour since the sugar doesn't like dissolving in oil.

Heated and stirred a couple of times. I whisk briskly to mix as I pour since the sugar doesn’t like dissolving in oil.

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven! Yeah, I used more tomatoes than the recipe called.  It’s not like they’ll go to waste!

Two hours later.  They are just starting to brown.  I like them better like this.  Another half hour would see them with distinct brown edges and much more shriveled.  The flavor would be even more concentrated.

Two hours later. They are just starting to brown. I like them better like this. Another half hour would see them with distinct brown edges and much more shriveled. The flavor would be even more concentrated.  Cook them how you like them!

So how long do you think these will last at your house? 🙂  ENJOY!

Roasted Garlic Paste

I love garlic.  Unfortunately, since the years when I was constantly fighting illnesses, garlic in quantity no longer likes me.  That’s not to say I can’t eat it.  I just can’t eat a lot at once or something that has a lot of garlic in it.  Unless, of course, I’m willing to spend quite a bit of time in the bathroom.

I love getting baby garlic from one of my mom’s neighbors.  Those wee cloves are just the right size for scrambled eggs.  Or mincing into the tomatoes for bruschetta.  Regular sized garlic I use for cooking.  Or better yet, roasting!  Roasted garlic doesn’t bother me like raw garlic.  So I can eat a bit more of it. 🙂

One of the ways I like to use roasted garlic is as a paste.  You can “butter” your bread with it, mix it into butter to make garlic butter, or heck, just mix it into anything you want flavored with garlicky goodness (Mmmm, mashed potatoes!).

So here’s what you do:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees F.
  • Take the head of garlic and cut the tips off the cloves.
  • Then drizzle olive oil over and between the cloves.
  • Wrap it in aluminum foil, but do not seal it tight.
  • Cook it for 30 to 60 minutes.  Just until the cloves give when you push on them.  One head, depending on size, usually cooks 30 to 40 minutes.  Six heads of garlic cooked at once, depending on size, will go 45 to 60 minutes.
  • When the garlic has cooled, squeeze it out of the cloves and mash it up.  If you want it a little smoother, or want to make it go farther, mix in some olive oil to the consistency you want.  Done!
  • One average head of garlic will make about a heaping tablespoonful of garlic paste.
Cloves tipped, olive oil drizzled, now pull up the foil and bake!

Cloves tipped, olive oil drizzled, now pull up the foil and bake! Oh!  By the way!  It smells kinda funky while it’s cooking.  I don’t know if it’s the olive oil burning (some of the oil on the foil will burn) or a combination of hot foil and olive oil. But it smells funky.

Roasted and ready to squeeze!

Roasted and ready to squeeze and mash!

Roasted Garlic Paste!  This will easily keep a week in the fridge.  Assuming it even lasts that long! :D

Roasted Garlic Paste! This will easily keep a week in the fridge. Assuming it even lasts that long! 😀

Here's the first thing I put mine on!

Here’s the first thing I put mine on!

 

Roasted Shrimp

Saver wants recipes, so they’ll be going up fairly regularly for a while.  This shrimp recipe is for those of us who can’t afford fresh shrimp and buy the frozen only when on sale!

ROASTED SHRIMP

  • 1 pound/bag of frozen shrimp
  • 3 tbls extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tbls chopped fresh marjoram OR 2 tsp chopped thyme OR 2 tsp chopped rosemary OR whatever you want.  Feel free to mix.  The rosemary and thyme together is good.  Reduce amounts by half if using dried herbs.
  • 2 tsp lemon juice (yeah, we use the bottled stuff)
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced ( I don’t have a powdered equivalent ’cause I really don’t like the stuff)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Take the shrimp out of the freezer the night before and put in the fridge to thaw.  Yeah, you can nuke them in the microwave a little bit if you forget and they’re still frozen, but only a little bit or they’ll cook.  It will take them longer to roast as well.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees F.  Make sure you drain any water off the shrimp.  Put the shrimp in a mixing bowl and pour the olive oil over them and toss.  Then add the remaining ingredients and toss to coat them evenly.  Lay the shrimp in a single layer on a baking sheet or in a 13 X 9 pan.  Roast in the oven approx. 5 minutes.  They cook faster on a baking sheet.  If you buy the uncooked shrimp they need to be pink and the flesh no longer translucent.  If you buy the cooked shrimp, they just need to be heated through.  Don’t cook them too long!

If you buy the little shrimp you can just eat them by the spoonful or they are good tossed into sautéed pasta with some Parmesan cheese sprinkled on or you can add them to steamed veggies.  If you buy the bigger shrimp, just add some fresh bread and salad for a meal.  Enjoy!

 

More Recipes for Saver and A Surprise Visitor

Saver of Bugs is now out of college and on her own.  She’s sharing half a house with 4 other people.  Regular cooking is now a necessity!  Here you go, Saver! (I was thinking of making a page to put all the recipes in one place.  What do you think?)

Tangy Chicken Legs (my kids call this Teriyaki chicken 🙂 )

from Fix-It and Forget-It 5-ingredient Favorites (Slow-Cooker recipes) by Phyllis Pellman Good

  • 8 chicken drumsticks
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • scant 1/8 tsp. ground ginger
  • 1/4 cup water
  1. Place chicken in slow cooker.
  2. Combine remaining ingredients in a bowl and spoon over chicken.
  3. Cover and cook on Low 4-5 hours, or until chicken is tender but not dry

NOTES:

  • We double the ingredients for the sauce.  We like extra juice for rice or noodles.
  • Thighs are good, too.  We use boneless, skinless thighs.
  • I like to heat the sauce on the stove till it starts to boil and then pour it over the thighs which have already been put into the cooker.  This gives it a jump-start on heating up.
  • If frozen, cook on high 2 hours then on low 2-3 hours.
  • When we have company, I cook 16 thighs all together and it turns out just fine.  I triple the sauce recipe for this and stir the thighs half way through the cooking time.

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Since discovering this recipe, I have not cooked rice in a pot on the stove since.  This is the BEST rice recipe EVER!

Oven-Easy Rice

From the Spears Victorian Sampler Tea Room Cookbook

  • 3 c. boiling water
  • 1 1/2 c. uncooked regular rice
  • 1 1/2 tsp. salt

Mix ingredients thoroughly in a 1 1/2 quart casserole.  Cover tightly with lid or aluminum foil (tight enough to prevent escape of steam).  Bake at 350 degrees for 25 to 30 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and rice is tender.  Fluff with a fork and spoon into bowl to serve.  Makes about 6 servings.

NOTES:

  • I have found that 30 minutes is the best amount of time.  Then let it sit 10 minutes still covered before fluffing to make sure all the liquid does get absorbed.
  • Feel free to add bouillon (leave out the salt if you do) or herbs or spices to flavor the rice.

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A Late Night Visitor

A Luna Moth!  These guys only live about 7 days.  This one kept banging itself against my window screen.  Eventually I had to go 'pop' it off the screen to get it to fly away.

A Luna Moth! These guys only live about 7 days. This one kept banging itself against my window screen. Eventually I had to go ‘pop’ it off the screen to get it to fly away.  They are so beautiful!

 

This a picture of one from a couple of years ago.  Aren't they pretty?

This a picture of one from a couple of years ago. Aren’t they pretty?

 

Catch Up And A Recipe For Saver

Catch Up

So first there was Easter with both my kids home and Saver’s SO came, too.  That was busy but nice. I made sure there were 2 gallons of ice tea (Spider Bait drinks waaaay too much tea, in my opinion) and I made Sweet and Tangy chicken for their first meal home.  It’s a frequent request.  I love having everyone home.   (Hey, Saver, how about calling your SO GeoBabe? 😀 )

Then came my BFF’s hysterectomy.  She has uterine cancer.  I have not been a happy camper.  Surgery lasted much much longer than expected because they had to clean out a bunch of endometriosis.  She did come out of the surgery okay, but it was a very long day.  The doctor feels that they got to it in time before it spread.  We should find out sometime this week whether or not she will have to have chemo.   Currently she has a bad cold and I keep reminding her to pay attention to how she feels.  Pneumonia is not uncommon after surgery.  And she was under a very long time.

Spider Bait had all his finals bunched together.  WooHoo!  We brought him home Friday night.  You would not believe how much laundry he brought home, the little stinker! 😀

I guess you could say I stressed my way through the past two weeks!

Spring is here!  The Juncos have departed for northern territories and the Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks have arrived!

Spring is here! The Juncos have departed for northern territories and the Rose-Breasted Grosbeaks have arrived!  (Excuse the blurriness! Between the screen on the window and my shaky hands things aren’t always clear! 🙂 )

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Recipe for Saver

Remember these, Saver?

Remember these, Saver?

Dijon Chicken Breasts

(from Mr. Food Cooks Chicken by Art Ginsburg)

  • 2 skinless, boneless, chicken breasts
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon-style mustard
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne (red) pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.  Place the chicken in a shallow baking pan (8 X 8) in a single layer.  In a small bowl, mix together the remaining ingredients.  Brush half the mustard mixture over the chicken.  Bake for 10 minutes; brush the remaining mixture over the chicken and bake for about 10 minutes more, or until the chicken is fork-tender and no pink remains.  This is great on the grill, too!

Notes:

  • When baked in a dish, I like to double all but the cayenne pepper so that there is extra sauce.
  • With the chicken breasts the size they are these days, it takes more like 30 t0 40 minutes to cook, not 20.  I would split these breasts lengthwise next time to cook them.  Did you notice how many times I cut into them?
  • I use brown mustard most of the time.  It’s just as good.  Yellow mustard would probably work, as well.

ENJOY!