Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Salt and vinegar potato wedges

Is it bad that we bought a 50 pound bag of potatoes at the end of October and they were gone before the end of April? I mean, I did make mashed potatoes for Thanksgiving from that bag, so we didn't really eat them all by ourselves, right? OK, so we have a *slight* potato obsession in our house. We eat oven fries a lot. They are such a quick and easy side dish and go with so many meals. Recently, I wanted to change our regular oven fries up a bit and decided to try flavoring them with vinegar. I love salt and vinegar potato chips, so it seemed like a good plan. I was correct - these were delicious. Just enough vinegar flavor and tang without being overwhelming. Then roasted and topped with salt to finish. 

Dip these in ketchup, or enjoy as is (or even splash on some extra vinegar if you so choose). This recipe will serve about two people, but it is simple to double if needed.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Banana oat blender pancakes

Our twins are starting to show interest in our food. They want to grab everything we are eating and love to sit at the table with us now. They've started eating a few finger foods (or trying to- they often miss their mouth or drop it before it gets there!) like small noodles and soft fruits. So, I wanted to make them some pancakes to try for dinner recently, but I wanted to keep them simple in ingredients and also relatively healthy. They like oatmeal and they love bananas, so I used the banana to sweeten up these pancakes and oats for the base. We broke them up into small pieces and put them on their trays to feed themselves along with some small pieces of extra banana. As a real treat, we did dip a piece into real maple syrup for each of them. They were mixed on that, but they both really enjoyed the pancakes! My husband and I ate them for dinner, too - so they aren't just for babies and toddlers. 

This recipe will make about 10 pancakes. In case you missed earlier posts, I've been doing a small series on baby and toddler foods since they've been the focus of a lot of my cooking lately. I love making new foods and flavors for them to try and watching their reactions. I also have a Facebook group Baby & Toddler Food Recipe Share for those who may be interested.  

Friday, April 14, 2017

Pennsylvania Dutch ham, green beans, and potatoes

This meal is a classic from my childhood. My mom made this quite frequently during the cold weather months and we always enjoyed it. This and ham, bean, & rivel soup were two Pennsylvania Dutch family dishes we looked forward to having for dinner. They are simple, homey dishes. This recipe is so simple, it's truly barely a recipe haha. Just a few simple ingredients turn into a tasty meal. Dinner doesn't always have to be complicated or fancy. It's also a very frugal meal to feed your family and, for us, adding twins to our family has encouraged us more than ever to buff up on our frugality skills. We get a half of a pig each year, so our freezer is always well-stocked with ham hocks and hams. I thought that with the Easter holiday coming up, this would be a good time to post this recipe because if you have some leftover ham and a meaty ham bone, you are all set to make this meal next week with your leftovers. I used a ham hock, but either is fine as long as there's enough meat on it to feed about four people. 

I've posted a few other Pennsylvania Dutch recipes in the past. I have two cookbooks that I like to try recipes from and you can get cheap or free e-book ones on Amazon (currently) if you want to look through them. Each one is a little different, and we always find dishes we want to try. This recipe will serve about four people. Serve it with a side of crusty bread or drop biscuits with butter. I've also seen people serving it with cider vinegar on the side. We never did this when I was a kid, but I think next time I'll give it a try.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Quick coffee cake (Blitzkuchen)

My husband and I were perusing through The German Cookbook the other week looking for new recipes to try. As I'm sure I've mentioned several times before, we really love this cookbook and we like trying new recipes from it. Also, we've both been teaching ourselves German using Duolingo for a few years now and we speak our very elementary vocabulary around the twins. Maybe the will pick up bits and pieces of a second language as they learn to talk. So, when we were looking through the book, my husband immediately stuck a bookmark into the page for this quick coffee cake (called Blitzkuchen or "lightning cake"). I added a little more cinnamon and a bit more salt in this version.

What I really loved about this coffee cake was that it is simple to make and also simple in flavor. It's not very sweet at all, making it really lovely for breakfast or brunch, or alongside a cup of afternoon coffee. The crumb texture of the cake itself is really nice as well. Add this quick coffee cake to your Easter brunch or Mother's Day breakfast, or as a weekend treat for your family. This cake will serve 6-8 people, depending on how large you cut your pieces (probably 6 haha). 

Monday, April 3, 2017

Homemade baby food purées (advanced)

Blueberry, beet, & apple purée (1 cup of blueberries, 2 medium beets, 1 large sweet apple - Peel, chop and steam beets until softened, add a bit more water to the pan and add blueberries and apple. Cook until tender and then puree, using the steaming water as needed).

I wrote a previous post about making homemade baby food purées for our twins. They are now 8 months old and have tried a lot of fruits, vegetables, yogurt, cereals, and some meats. We started with single-ingredient purées to ensure that neither of them had a reaction to the food. Now that they've tried many things, and we know what they like (and don't like so much), I'm making more advanced purées combining multiple foods. I try to pick a variety of colors of foods as well as starting new textures (e.g., kiwi seeds, beans). My homemade purées are thicker and not as smooth as the ones in a stage 2 jar/container from the store. Also, I don't use one method for cooking. If I am roasting a squash for our dinner, I will roast one for them as well and use it for baby food. If I'm baking, I may toss some sweet potatoes or beets in the oven to cook for baby food. I boil and steam as well, cooking harder foods first and then adding softer ones. 

Avocado, kiwi, & banana purée (no need to cook - just blend 1 halved and peeled avocado, 3 peeled and quartered kiwi, & 1 ripe peeled banana until smooth. Add 1 teaspoon of lemon juice to reduce browning, if desired).

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Triple chocolate chip chocolate cookies

My husband works shifts that are all over the place -- days, nights, weekends -- and it changes almost daily. I've been rather busy most days caring for our twins who are now 8 months old (I can't believe how quickly they are growing)! One has just started to crawl and both are getting bottom teeth! It amazing how much they learn and change each day. Given our somewhat crazy lives right now, I'm thankful that this winter we've had a super kind neighbor who has snowblowed our driveway and the sidewalk in front of our house numerous times. I think they took a little pity on my husband when he'd be out there shoveling and knowing we have two babies. So, recently I made them some cookies as a "thank you." My husband asked what kind they like and they said chocolate chip.... little did they know they were dealing with a food blogger who would need to jazz that up a bit into something new (not that I don't adore a good chocolate chip cookie). I adapted this recipe from here. It will make about 2-1/2 dozen cookies. We kept six for ourselves, and gave them two dozen. These cookies were so delicious - my husband said they were like eating hot chocolate in cookie form. 

Sunday, March 26, 2017

April Meal Plan

It's time to get ready for April and spring with some meal ideas! Check out all the ideas below from a terrific group of bloggers. 


Entrees & Sides


This month's recipe round up was brought to you by:

Pin this to your meal planning board for easy access all month long!


Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Maple pecan popcorn

It's high maple season in our region. The sap is running and all the maple producers are boiling! Every year throughout NY state, we have Maple Weekend celebrations. Last weekend was the first one for this year, and this coming weekend is the second one. We don't use fake maple (or pancake) syrup around here -- we use the good stuff from maple trees! I love to use maple syrup on pancakes and waffles, of course, but I also like to use it in recipes. Whenever you are going to cook or bake with maple syrup, you want to get the darkest color you can get because that will have the most maple flavor. This season I decided to make some caramel corn using maple syrup instead of corn syrup/brown sugar/honey. I adapted this recipe from King Arthur Flour. I am glad that we were able to taste the maple flavor in this recipe and it made the whole house smell amazing while it was baking. This popcorn is a super delicious treat - perfect to take to snack on while visiting some maple farms, to eat while watching a movie or playing games, or bring to a party. It's sure to be a hit!

Friday, March 17, 2017

Traditional Irish soda bread

It's St. Patrick's Day! For many of us, that means a corned beef & cabbage dinner. And, hopefully, a side of homemade soda bread to go with it! While looking around for a traditional soda bread recipe, I found this website: The Society for the Preservation of Irish Soda Bread! I figured that these folks take their soda bread pretty seriously, so I decided to make their basic white soda bread recipe this year (next year I plan to try the brown). No fancy raisins, sugar, butter, etc. (which, according to the website, makes it a "tea cake" and no longer a soda bread) -- just bread with four simple ingredients. The bread was a lovely side to our dinner -- perfect for sopping up some of the juices on your plate. All it needs is a pat of Kerrygold butter to make it complete. There's still time to make this bread for your dinner tonight, or this weekend! 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Peanut butter & jelly thumbprint cookies

This month's Fantastical Food Fight theme is peanut butter & jelly/pb&j! I was happy to see this theme because 1) I've always been a big pb&j fan; and 2) I've been meaning to make these cookies for probably about 3 years now! So I finally had a good reason. I had found this recipe and modified it slightly as written below to reflect the technique we use in my Gram's classic thumbprint cookies. These cookies are delicious - I mean, how could they not be, right? Peanut butter and jelly are a classic combination for a reason! I used grape jelly and mixed berry preserves in my cookies. The preserves melted down into the holes and the jelly just kind of stayed in a glob -- but they both still tasted terrific! You can use whatever your favorite jelly/jam/preserves are in your cookies. This recipe will make approximately 2-1/2 dozen cookies.

We recently gave the twins their first taste of peanut butter now that the recommendations are changed. We have no history of peanut allergies in our family (thankfully!), so I pureed up a banana with a little peanut butter and mixed it in with their oatmeal. They liked it and have eaten it a few times now. So I'm hopeful that they will continue to not have any reactions to peanut butter. I can't imagine how difficult it is to have severe food allergies. 

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Homemade baby food purées (basic)

Blueberry applesauce.

Since a significant portion of my kitchen time lately has been spent making baby food, I figured it deserved a post here. Having twins, baby food gets pretty expensive! I'm surprised when I see people in my mom's groups, or mom friends of mine, talking about how their babies don't like purées or cereals or other typical baby foods. Our twins love these things (and also they love yogurt). They are 7 months old now and have been eating cereal since 5 months and fruits and vegetables since about 6 months. After we tried a bunch of store bought jarred baby foods, I decided to try to make some myself. So far, the only thing they haven't liked is chicken (so much gagging) and our daughter does not care for beets. Some food I still buy jarred (like peaches and pears as they are expensive to buy this time of year and not very sweet), but making purées is pretty easy and definitely money saving.


Friday, March 3, 2017

Apple butter oatmeal muffins

It's March! So what am I doing posting an apple recipe?!? Those are for fall, right? Well, for me, usually they are.... but this recipe is more of a "use it or lose it" recipe. I canned more apple butter than we can eat! I even gave a bunch away, but a few jars were still lingering on my basement shelf quickly approaching the time when they'd probably need to be tossed. I really hate food waste, especially after working so hard to make and can something, so apple butter muffins are here! These muffins are a twist on my applesauce oatmeal bread and they turned out delicious -- very moist and full of yummy spices. Plus, they are even better split open with more apple butter spread on top, so perhaps we will use up all that's left before these are gone. This recipe will make one dozen muffins and will fill your home with a wonderful aroma while they are baking.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

March Meal Plan

I'm joining a terrific group of bloggers for a monthly meal plan post. We will post the last Sunday of each month will meal and recipe ideas for the upcoming month. March's theme is St. Patrick's Day. Check out the ideas below!

Monday, February 13, 2017

Chocolate chip cherry scones {#FoodBloggerLove}

This month I'm participating in my first #FoodBloggerLove event! For February the assignment is similar to that of the Secret Recipe Club, which I really miss, so I knew I wanted to participate in this one. I was assigned Feeding Big as my blog to showcase. This blog is written by Cynthia and she likes to share clean eating recipes, easy recipes, and recipes that families would gobble up! Her blog was new to me, which is one of the reasons I love participating in these type of events! She has loads of delicious recipes, but also writes about gardening, crafts, and much more. One thing Cynthia and I definitely have in common is a love for apples! If it were apple season, I would have been all up in her apple recipes. I'm also going to be making some of her hot pepper oil with my dried chile peppers. I think this would be so delicious on roasted potatoes and grilled vegetables.

However, since it's February, I knew I wanted to make a Valentine's Day appropriate recipe from her blog. After looking around, I decided on making a batch of her chocolate chip cherry scones as a treat! These scones turned out super yummy! Perfect for the weekend before Valentine's Day, or any special occasion. I made mine into wedges only because I was feeling lazy. I'm just recovering from an awful flu! It's been terrible. Below is Cynthia's recipe, just slightly modified. It will make about 16 scones.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Peanut butter banana bread

I always buy my bananas green or as close to green as possible, because I like them when they just turn yellow, but before they get any brown on them. Once they have brown on them, they are basically inedible to me. Then they all become my husband's to eat. However, I picked up some bananas when grocery shopping in between Christmas and the New Year. They were green. And then the next couple days, they were still green and hard as rocks. Then a week later.... then two.... and then it just became a science experiment. We had these bananas for about 4 weeks before they went from green and hard to soft and brown. I never saw a nice yellow phase in there.... So then I was left with these over-ripe bananas and decided to make a new kind of banana bread. Specifically one that contained peanut butter, because peanut butter + banana is always a winning combination. This bread is delicious -- full of peanut buttery banana flavor. 

I found this recipe that I modified a bit for the below version. This recipe will make one loaf (8"x4" pan) of bread. It's terrific for breakfast slathered in some extra peanut butter, or all on its own for an afternoon snack with a hot cup of tea. 

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chorizo, potato, and chick pea soup

We are still awaiting winter here in Buffalo. My birthday is right around now and I can't help but think of all the times in my life when my birthday parties were cancelled or postponed due to snow storms, but this year it was just over 50 degrees the other day! The past few winters have been so mild. I don't really want blizzards and storms, but I do miss things like a white Christmas and a nice blanket of snow for the winter. I love living here for the seasons, but they are blending together more and more every year. January could be 100 degrees though and it will still be prime soup time for me! 

This soup here is hearty and spicy - full of smoked chorizo sausage, potatoes, chick peas, poblano peppers, and corn. It will warm you up from the inside out on a chilly (or even not-so-chilly) winter day. This recipe will serve about four people. Serve with a side of buttered crusty bread or even a pile of corn tortilla chips, to cool off your mouth. A dollop of sour cream on top is also a nice touch.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Slow cooker chicken enchilada soup

The frigid winter weather had settled upon us here in western New York, and then we have had a streak of 40 degrees days with rain. It's so weird to go outside in January and not have everything be a blanket of white. I'm not sure how I feel about it.... I don't think I like it though. One thing that I do like though --- SOUP! I think my readers know that I love soup. I also love slow cooker recipes. So I was really pumped to see slow cooker soup as January's Fantastical Food Fight theme! With infant twins in the house, our slow cooker is getting even more use than usual. It's so nice to be able to throw your food in it in the morning and then have your dinner finished, or almost finished when it's time to eat. This soup is delicious, hearty, and very flavorful. It's full of Mexican food flavors, which we really enjoy in our house. This recipe will serve about four people. A side of corn tortilla chips is highly encouraged!

Monday, January 16, 2017

Raisin pie

We recently had a birthday celebration for my father-in-law and he requested a raisin pie for dessert. Hmmmmm.... raisin pie..... I had heard my husband's family mention raisin pie before, but it's not something I had ever seen or tried before. So, of course, I was intrigued. I searched the web for recipes and read a bunch and came up with this version. Turns out raisin pie is a classic favorite of many people! The raisins are all plump and juicy and the pie is very sweet. It has just a hint of cinnamon and a touch of fresh lemon juice to help with all the sweet raisin flavor. If you are a raisin fan, you should definitely give this old-fashioned dessert a try. This recipe will make one 9-inch pie.

Monday, January 9, 2017

White chocolate pistachio pudding cookies

When I first started blogging, I really wasn't a huge baking fan. It was one of the things I wanted to work on and challenge myself to do more often. Well, in those 7 years, I've become very fond of baking, especially cookies and pie. I'm surprised by it, but also very glad. I made these cookies for a family gathering recently (is it too early for cookies already after all those Christmas cookies?). But, then the gathering ended up getting postponed, so my husband took a bunch to work and we will just have to suck it up and eat the rest, hahaha. I really love pistachios, so I was excited to try these cookies. I had pinned this recipe a long time ago and finally got around to making them. They are flavorful, moist, and chewy -- plus the pistachio pudding gives them a fun green color. This recipe will make about 3 dozen cookies.