Sunday, August 29, 2010

Simple Sesame Noodles

I'm reading The Pioneer Women Cooks and was reviewing recipes on her site when I found the following recipe for Simple Sesame Noodles. Big time yum!

Simple Sesame Noodles
12 oz thin spaghetti noodles
¼ C soy sauce (La Choy Lite)
2 T sugar
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 T rice vinegar (Lite-low sodium & sugar)
3 T sesame oil
1/4 t cayanne pepper (I didn't have the hot chili oil)
4 T olive oil (Didn't have canola oil either)
2 T hot water
4 green onions, sliced

While cooking the noodles, combine the ingredients with the exception of the green onions. When the noodles are done, drain and put them back in the empty pan and pour the sauce over them. Toss the noodles, then add the green onions and toss again.

Original recipe: Simple Sesame Noodles, by Ree Drummond

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Book Club: The Pioneer Woman Cooks by Ree Drummond

Welcome to the latest book club read: The Pioneer Woman Cooks: Recipes from an Accidental Country Girl by Ree Drummond "...a homespun collection of photography, rural stories, and scrumptious recipes that have defined my experience in the country. I share many of the delicious cowboy-tested recipes I've learned to make during my years as an accidental ranch wife..." From Ree Drummond on the book flap.

Breakfast Bowls (My "quick" adaption.* Pioneer Woman's original recipe is on pg. 56-57)
1 onion
1 t olive oil
1 t butter
1 can sliced potatoes (drained)
6-8 slices bacon (cooked and chopped)
6 eggs
1/4 C milk (organic)
1 C grated cheese

Preheat oven to 325.  Butter 6 oven safe ramekins and place on cookie sheet. Put butter and olive oil in frying pan. Chop onion and saute. Drain and chop potatoes and add to onions. Pan fry until they caramelize. Spoon potatoes into the ramekins. Cook bacon, chop then sprinkle over the potatoes. Sprinkle half of the cheese over each. Crack the eggs into a bowl and whisk with milk then pour evenly into the ramekins. Distribute the rest of the cheese evenly and bake for 20 minutes.

*I only had part of the ingredients from the original recipe, but it still turned out to be a really good and hearty breakfast. The melted cheese was gooey--and this was a great combo of ingredients! The Breakfast Bowls brought everybody together for Saturday breakfast yesterday. Your family might really like them too!


Update - March 2011: Did you know Ree has published two additional books since this post?

Saturday, August 21, 2010


Yesterday we followed a pretty creek, up a narrow canyon, to Pineview reservoir, to a lake we'd never been to before. We spent the day with family, taking rides on their pontoon boat. I wanted to make a homemade treat to share around, so I made brownies. It seemed a safe bet that eveybody could enjoy brownies, but the wildcard was that I wanted to break free from "box" brownie mixes and bake homemade brownies that would be "just right." Not too chocolate-y (like Alton Brown's Cocoa Brownies... which I like), or cake-y (like the recipe on the baking chocolate box - also good).

I went searching for a recipe on All Recipes. Could it be done? One brownie recipe that everybody likes? One recipe to rule them all? Quite possibly. In fact at the time of this blog post 45,310 people on All Recipes had saved the top rated "Best Brownies" recipe. See what you think. (My experience? Everyone including the pickiest eaters liked them.)

Best Brownies
1/2 C butter
1 C sugar
2 eggs
1 t vanilla (I used Mexican Vanilla)
1/3 C unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 C flour
1/4 t salt (kosher salt)
1/4 t baking powder

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease and flour an 8 inch square pan. In a large saucepan, melt 1/2 cup butter. Remove from heat, and stir in sugar, eggs, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Beat in 1/3 cup cocoa, 1/2 cup flour, salt, and baking powder. Spread batter into prepared pan. Bake in preheated oven for 25 to 30 minutes. Do not overcook. (Baked for 22 minutes as instructed by reviewers. I used an All Edges Brownie pan.)

Recipe Source: All Recipes, Best Brownies by Angie

"Perfectly Chocolate" Chocolate Frosting
1/2 C butter
2/3 C cocoa
3 C powdered sugar
1/3 C milk
1 t vanilla

Melt 1 stick (1/2 cup) butter or margarine; stir in 2/3 cup HERSHEY'S Cocoa. Add 3 cups powdered sugar alternately with 1/3 cup milk and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract beating to spreading consistency. About 2 cups frosting. (I cut this recipe in half and there was plenty of frosting.)

Recipe Source: Chocolate Frosting: Hershey's Kitchens

Monday, August 2, 2010

Apricot-Pineapple Freezer Jam

I was halfway through this recipe when I saw "Light Corn Syrup." I didn't want corn syrup in the jam. What with King Corn, and Food, Inc. I don't think my grandmother (or mom) put corn syrup in her jam. So improv time. Again. Mid recipe. Oye.
Apricot Jam in freezer containers.
Apricot-Pineapple Freezer Jam ready for the freezer!
Apricot-Pineapple Freezer Jam
2 & 1/2 C apricots
1-20 oz can crushed pineapple (undrained)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice (I used 2 lemons)
2 boxes Sure Jell Pectin
5 C sugar (4 1/2 C would be plenty - without the corn syrup)

Run freezer jam containers through the dishwasher (to wash and sterilize them). Wash, pit and chop apricots and place in bowl. Add pineapple, pectin and combine. Set timer for 30 minutes and stir every five minutes. Add sugar and stir well. Give it a minute or two and stir again and repeat until most of the sugar has dissolved. Use a ladle to fill containers to 1/2-1/4 inch from the top and cover. Wipe off drips.

Sure Jell says the next step is: "Let stand at room temperature for 24 hours. Jam is now ready to use. Store in refrigerator up to 3 weeks or freeze extra containers up to 1 year. Thaw in refrigerator before using."

Recipe Source(s): Sure-Jell Apricot Pineapple Freezer Jam, All Recipes: Freezer Jam article

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Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cucumber Salad

White Bear Lake, Minnesota
White Bear Lake, Minnesota - the sailboat with the blue and white stripes is named "Surprise."
This summer we visited family in Minnesota. One of our favorite moments was on White Bear Lake (seen above) swimming and watching the sailboats. During our visit I browsed through the "Best of the Best From Minnesota" cookbook. On page 94 there's a recipe for "Peas and Cucumbers in Sour Cream." Back at home again I saw another cucumber salad on Paula Deen's website. All of this said the best Cucumber Salad is made by my mom-in-law. So in a typical move, I created a hybrid. 

Cucumber Salad
Cucumber Salad

Cucumber Salad
2 cucumbers
1 white or yellow onion
1/2 C low fat sour cream
1/4 C Light Mayonaise
3 T apple cider vinegar
1 t dill
Fresh ground pepper

Peel and evenly slice the cucumbers and place in a bowl. Slice the onion evenly and add to cucumbers with the mayonnaise, sour cream, vinegar, pepper and dill. Combine. Place in the fridge overnight for the flavors to meld.

Recipe Inspiration: Peas and Cucumbers in Sour Cream, pg. 94 "Best of the Best From Minnesota," Cold Cucumber Salad from Paula Deen, and Gayle Nikolaisen

Review: The flavor is mild and creamy with a little tang. It reminds me of the sauce you get on a gyro when you order it with white sauce instead of red.

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