Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Reusable sandwich bags

I know I don't post pictures of my crafty stuff often. That's mainly because I either don't take pictures, or I take them, but I never get around to putting them up.

I'm playing with using the "email photo" option on my phone to be better about posting pics.

These are a reusable sandwich and snack bag I made for MS & JW. They both liked the pirate fabric and another flame fabric, so they're going to share. The pirate fabric is just a cotton print, and it's lined with PUL, so it's machine washable, but I can also just wipe it down.

Don't look too closely at the straightness of the lines. This was my first successful project on a sewing machine. Ever.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream

A friend posted in her Facebook status about making Cheesecake Ice Cream. Since A. we have made it a tradition to make homemade ice cream on Fridays when we grill out on our roof with our neighbors, and B. we would have made up such a tradition if we hadn't already, just to try Cheesecake Ice Cream, we decided to make this our Flavor of the Week (I feel like I should write it on a chalkboard).

CS (aka "the neighbor") suggested we add strawberries, so it became Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream. Oh yes, we did. Don't worry, I made it healthy by substituting plain yogurt for half of the sour cream, because we only had one cup of sour cream I'm concerned about the health of my family and neighbors.

CS also suggested adding the crackers (we use "petit buerre" tea crackers here). It was a yummy touch.

Suffice it to say, this flavor will be going into our repertoire to pull from for the future. It reminds me of Marble Slab Cheesecake Ice Cream with a strawberry mix-in.

Oh, and I just froze it in our freezer, rather than making it in the ice cream maker, as Julie had said it was too thick for theirs, and they ended up just freezing it, anyway. There were a few ice crystals, but it was still incredible. And ML was happy to have the week off from babysitting the ice cream maker.

12 oz cream cheese
1 C sour cream
1 C plain yogurt
2 C heavy whipping cream
1/2 C sugar
6 T lemon juice
2 T vanilla flavoring

3-4 C frozen strawberries, chopped

graham crackers (optional)

Beat cream cheese until smooth.
Slowly add sugar and then beat in sour cream, yogurt, and heavy cream.
Add vanilla and lemon juice and mix until thick and smooth.
Stir in strawberries.
Cover and freeze for 4-6 hours.
Serve garnished with 2-3 graham crackers per bowl to be crushed and eaten with the ice cream or for dipping.

Sunday, May 9, 2010


Emjheddera is kind of like Arabic mac & cheese. Or maybe more like spaghetti and sauce. It's what you always keep ingredients on hand for and make when you run out of time or don't feel like making something complicated.

We love it, though, and I like to serve it (usually with a roasted chicken) when we have guests from the States (or other Western countries; not to be discriminatory). It's also my go-to recipe when people ask me for an Arabic recipe they can make, since it doesn't require an Arabic spice mix, just cummin. Don't know why I haven't posted it before.

This is the bare bones, basic Arabic kitchen recipe. I'm sure there are some cookbook versions out there with fancy twists. Feel free to elaborate.


serves 4-5
traditional Arabic gheda (lunch)
excellent source of protein when eaten with leban (plain yogurt)

1 C lentils, rinsed
2 C rice, rinsed
1/4 - 1/2 C olive oil
1 t salt
1 t cumin
1-2 med onions, chopped
1 T butter

Place rice in bowl with water to cover 1 - 1 1/2 inches. Soak 30 mins.

Meanwhile, place lentils in 2 qt. pan with water to cover 1 1/2 to 2 inches. Bring to a boil. Boil 10 minutes. Lentils should be cooked but not mushy. Drain.

Place 2 1/2 C water, oil, salt and cumin in 4 qt. sauce pot. Bring to a boil. Drain rice. Add rice and lentils to boiling, seasoned water. Simmer 8-10 mins.

Sauté onions in butter. Use to top lentils and rice.

Serve with Arabic Salad (diced tomatoes and cucumbers with a little vinegar, oil and some dried mint; minced onions are optional) and leban (plain yogurt, slightly runny and slightly tart).

Monday, April 19, 2010

Vanilla Ice Cream

After ranting and raving about the family vanilla ice cream recipe, I thought I should probably post it.

I thought for sure I'd already posted it or at least had it saved on my computer when I went to mix it up last week, but I couldn't find it. I knew I'd seen the actual recipe card (you remember those old fashioned things, don't you?) somewhere in my kitchen recently, so I looked in all of the usual places: the clip where I used to hang cards back when I used them, the miscellaneous basket, I even resorted to looking through the actual recipe card box. The entire thing (which is a mess, because Z dumped it out one time, and I haven't put it back together since, so I had to look through every.single.card). Couldn't find the recipe. I was about to call Mom and have her read it to me or e-mail it to me when I looked one last place: it was magneted to the refrigerator. In plain sight the whole time. Fortunately, I had a friend to chat with on the phone while I was looking, so it wasn't too much of a pain.

Recipe found, I proceeded to mix it up, stick it in the freezer and go directly to the computer to type it in. An hour later (because you don't go "directly" to do anything in this house), it was safely saved in my recipe file. And, just for safe keeping, and because you all really have to try this, here it is for the www, too.

• 4 eggs
• 2 C sugar
• 3-4 C 1/2 & 1/2 or light cream
• 2 T vanilla, preferably Mexican
• 1/2 t salt
• 5-6 C milk (enough to raise mixture level to “fill line” of cylinder)

1. Beat eggs until light.
2. Add sugar gradually, beating until mixture thickens.
3. Add salt and vanilla and some 1/2 & 1/2. Mix
4. Pour into cylinder.
5. Add remaining 1/2 & 1/2 and milk to “fill line.”
6. Chill in fridge.
7. Freeze according to ice cream freezer instructions.

Yes, it has raw eggs in it. And my mother, who has had salmonella and strongly discourages me from eating raw cookie dough as a result (so I don't; nope; not ever), still makes it. It's that good. Live dangerously.

Oh, and when it says "preferably" on the vanilla, referring to Mexican vanilla, that means "only if you want it to be the best homemade vanilla ice cream you've ever tasted." If not, feel free to use regular vanilla flavoring.

Mint Chocolate Chip Ice Cream

We had been looking for a while for a grill to go halvsies on with the other family in our building, and since we finally found one, we've been grilling at least once/week. After a couple of times getting started after the guys got home from work (7:30ish) and not having food to feed the kids until way past their bedtime, we decided that Friday (our Saturday) would be the best day to grill. And, since family tradition is *so* important, I proposed reinstituting my mom's family's tradition of making homemade ice cream when grilling. I mean, family traditions are important, right?

So, the first week, we made the traditional family recipe of vanilla. With Mexican vanilla. Because it is just wrong to make homemade vanilla ice cream with anything besides Mexican vanilla. Really, really wrong.

But I digress.

This week, we decided to break with tradition, I mean, make our own traditions by trying a new flavor. Polls were taken. Votes were cast, and allrecipes was searched. We ended up with Mint Chocolate Chip. Because, since I'm making the mix, my vote trumps. And there were a few other people that wanted it, too. (I think CS, the wife of the downstairs family, was a tad disappointed, so look for a chocolate ice cream recipe next week.)

I found this recipe but, of course, had to make some modifications, not the least of which being to adjust it to the amount required for a *real* ice cream freezer, not one of those mamby pamby countertop versions (do I sound a little bitter, because we have a 110 countertop ice cream maker that we got as a wedding present sitting in our attic in TX? well, I'm not). Plus, there will be none of this "fat free" business. This is ice cream. And that stuff's not good for you, either.

So, without further ado (because there's been enough ado already), here's the recipe we ended up with.

• 3 C half and half
o or 3 C water + 2 C full cream powdered milk
• 2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk
• 2 envelopes powdered whipped topping mix
• 1/4 t peppermint extract
• 4 drops green food coloring (optional)

• 3-4 C whole milk (to “fill line” of freezer)

• 2-4 (1 oz.) squares semisweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
o or 1-2 C mini semisweet chocolate chips

1. In a large mixing bowl, mix half and half, condensed milk, whipped topping mix, extract and food coloring on high speed for 3 minutes.
a. Or use stick blender to mix directly in ice cream freezer canister.
2. Pour into canister.
3. Add whole milk to “fill line.”
4. Cover and refrigerate 2 hours (or overnight).
5. Freeze according to freezer directions.
6. Pour into container and allow to firm up 24 hours in refrigerator freezer.

Caveat: when it says "allow to firm up 24 hours in refrigerator freezer," it means it. The stuff never "set" like ice cream normally would in the ice cream maker itself (could have been one of the ingredients we used being different, since they're local). But it had enough crystals in it to set up fine once we poured it into containers and put it in the freezer overnight. Good things come to those who wait, I guess.

Caveat #2: you will want to eat *way* too much of this stuff. Even if you don't like mint.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Peanut Butter Frosting

Back in December, I went to open my traditional Buttercream Icing recipe when I noticed an intriguing file name: Peanut Butter Frosting. Hmmm . . .

I was making a chocolate chunk cookie cake, and it sounded like a match made in heaven. It was.

I made the icing again for the chocolate/white chocolate swirl cake for MA's birthday. Again, it was a hit. Today, it's topping a dark chocolate mocha chocolate chunk cake. Oh yes, I did. And I mentioned it in my FB status. So I had to post the recipe to link it. Plus, it really should be shared.

courtesy of Ruth fr SL

• 1 stick butter
• 1 C peanut butter
• 1-2 T milk
• 1/2 t vanilla
• 2-4 C powdered sugar

1. Cream butter and peanut butter.
2. Add milk and vanilla and mix.
3. Add powdered sugar gradually until desired consistency.


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Spanish Rice Mix

Similar in concept (but not in taste) to the Mexican Lentils and Rice mix, this is a great option to make 3-4 ziplock bags-worth at a time to have for future quick meals.

• 1 C long grain brown rice or white rice
• 2 t chili powder
• 1/2 t salt
• 1/4 t each oregano & cumin & garlic powder
• 2 T dry onion
o or 2 t onion powder
• Dash red pepper flakes

1. In a quart-sized ziplock bag combine the above ingredients.
2. Seal & label the bag.
3. Store on the pantry shelf.

To Prepare:
• 1 pkg of Taco Rice Mix
• 1 or 2 T oil
• 8 oz can reduced sodium tomato sauce
o or 1 C chopped fresh tomatoes
o or 1 can chopped tomatoes, including liquid
• 1 can whole kernel corn (optional)
• 2 C water
o reduce to 1 1/2 C, if using brown rice

1. Heat oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add contents of the Taco Rice Mix and sauté until rice is toasty and slightly opaque.
3. Add tomato sauce and water.
4. Stir and bring to a boil.
5. Cover pan and reduce heat to very low.
a. Brown rice will cook in 45 minutes.
b. White rice will cook in 20 minutes.
6. Serve topped with cheese for a main dish, or just like it is as a side dish.

Makes 4 servings.


To make Taco Style Beans & Rice add a 15 oz can of kidney or pinto or black beans (1-1/2 cups cooked beans) well drained and rinsed, along with the tomato sauce and water.

To make Taco TVP & Rice Mix add 1 cup of plain TVP and 2 bouillon cubes to the rice mixture. Use the flavor of bouillon that you prefer. When you prepare the dish, increase the water to 2 3/4 C. Otherwise, proceed as directed.

Note: I keep the bag of Taco Rice Mix in a small brown paper bag along with the canned tomato sauce, and sometimes a can of kidney beans too. This keeps the items together in one spot so I don't have to hunt all over the kitchen for that "can of tomato sauce that I know is around here somewhere". You may be more organized than me and always know where that extra can of tomato sauce is, but in case you're not this tip will save some work. Be sure to label and date the paper bag so you know what it is when you see it sitting there on the shelf.

I double this for our family, so we have leftovers.

This also makes a nice gift for an ill friend or neighbor or new mother, especially along with a prepared meal (as a bonus :-). It would also make a nice care package/basket for a college student/newly married couple. I include the following instructions (modified depending on whether I'm including kidney beans and/or corn).

Spanish Rice Mix Instructions

1. Heat 1-2 T oil in a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat.
2. Add contents of the Spanish Rice Mix and sauté until rice is toasty and slightly opaque.
3. Add tomatoes (undrained), kidney beans and corn (drained), and 1 1/2 C water.
4. Stir and bring to a boil.
5. Cover pan and reduce heat to very low.
a. Brown rice will cook in 45 minutes.
b. White rice will cook in 20 minutes.
6. Serve topped with cheese for a main dish, or just like it is as a side dish.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Mom's Coffee Cake

Coffee cake the way I remember it. And now I know why Mom always made this recipe. It uses oil and melted butter, respectively, instead of softened butter, so there's no cutting in the butter! I have another delicious coffee cake recipe from the BH&G cookbook, but it takes (literally) an hour to make, because both the batter and the crumb topping require cutting butter in. Who wants to spend an hour in the morning putting breakfast together (and *then* you have to wait for it to bake)? This, on the other hand, goes together really quickly.

For all but just our immediate family, I double this and bake it in a 9x12.

1/4 C oil
1 beaten egg
1/2 C milk

Stir together, then add to milk mixture:
1 1/2 C sifted all-purpose flour
3/4 C sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt

Mix well; pour into greased 9" x 9" pan.

1/4 C brown sugar
1 tbsp flour
2 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp melted butter
1/2 cup broken nuts (or substitute 1/2 C raisins -- or do both).

Combine. Sprinkle over batter.

Bake at 375 about 25 min. or until knife/cake tester comes out clean.

Serve warm.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Cornbread Dressing

And a family/internet recipe for a traditional cornbread dressing. Turned out very yummy, if do say so myself.

• 2 C flour
• 2 C cornmeal
• 2 T baking powder
• 1 t salt
• 4 eggs
• 2 C milk or water
• 1/2 C oil

• 1/4 - 1/2 C butter (1/2 - 1 stick)
• 1 onion, finely chopped
• 2 stalks celery, finely chopped
• 4 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/2 t dried thyme
• 1/4 t dried basil
• 1/2 t dried oregano
• 1 T dried sage
• 1-2 t salt,
• 1/2-1 t ground black pepper
• 3-4 C chicken broth

• 2 eggs, beaten
• 1-2 C milk
• 2-3 eggs, boiled & chopped

1. Stir together flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, & salt.
2. In separate bowl beat eggs, milk & oil together.
3. Add to flour mixture.
4. Stir just until smooth.
5. Bake at 200* for 30-35 mins.
6. Allow to cool.

7. Meanwhile, in a large saucepan over medium heat, melt butter and saute onion, celery, green pepper and garlic.
8. When onions are tender stir in thyme, basil, oregano, sage, salt, pepper, cayenne and broth.
9. Bring to a boil and then remove from heat.
10. Preheat oven to 350*.
11. Grease deep-sided 9x13” pan or 9x13” and 8x8’ pans.
12. Crumble cornbread into large bowl.
13. Pour broth mixture, beaten eggs, milk and chopped boiled eggs over cornbread crumbs.
14. Mix well.
15. Place in prepared dishes.
16. Bake (at 350*) for 30 mins.

- I usually bake the cornbread the day before.

Giblet Gravy

Belatedly posting my two new holiday successes from this past season (I made them both Thanksgiving [with help/tutoring from Mom] and Christmas [on my own!]).

• giblets from a turkey
o or chicken livers
• 1/2 teaspoon salt
• 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
• 1 cube chicken bouillon
• 1 stalk celery, halved
• 1/4 yellow onion
o or 1 T dried onions
• 1 quart water

• 2 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
o or equivalent water + bullion
• 4 hard-cooked eggs
• 2 tablespoons cornstarch
• 1/2 cup milk

1. In a 2 quart saucepan, simmer the giblets, salt, pepper, bouillon, celery and onion in 1 quart of water for 40 to 50 minutes.
2. Discard gizzard, if using.
3. Chop liver and neck meat, if using, and return to pan.
4. Add chicken broth or if you have a turkey, use drippings (about 1 1/2 cups and 1 can of chicken broth).
5. Chop eggs and add to broth.
6. Mix cornstarch and milk together and slowly add to broth.
7. Stir well until thickened.
8. Reduce heat to low.
9. Heat through.

- I usually make the broth (steps 1-2) the night before.