Week Ten of Summer

Attend Street Market I know this is late, but c’est la vie. Summer is (or was) two-thirds done! The excitement of my tenth week of summer was Saturday. I decided to get up nice and early and head to the Des Moines farmer’s market. It was fun to walk around and see what is being produced locally. I managed to snag a few things for supper later that night.

Week 10 drawingsAfter touring around the market I returned home and was already muddying my bedroom when my mom called at 9:30 to see where I was. To say she was surprised would be an understatement. Who sleeps in on weekends?

Farmer's Market FoodLater that afternoon I took my loot from the market and concocted a lovely treat for supper. There were so many options there it was hard not to get too much food, but I ended up with some nice fresh green onions, new potatoes, some Gouda cheese (with bacon) and some focaccia with green peppers and garlic. With such beginnings I went with cheesy hash browns with a side of bread. I don’t usually make hash browns so I’d call it a success. Really it was just nice to get out and enjoy the day in a way I don’t always get to, which, of course, is the point.

Until next time
~Q

Summer Series: Intro | Week One | Week Two | Week Three | Week Four | Week Five | Week Six | Week Seven | Week Eight | Week Nine

Daily Writings: July 29 | July 30 | July 31 | August 1 | August 2 | August 3 | August 4

Summer 2014

  1. Nap in a Hammock
  2. Have a Bonfire
  3. Play Sand Volleyball
  4. Visit an Iowa Winery
  5. Go to the Zoo
  6. Eat Sushi
  7. Go Stargazing
  8. Christmas in June
  9. Rainy Day Picnic
  10. Make a Summer Soundtrack
  11. Visit a Bed & Breakfast
  12. Ride a Carousel
  13. Go Camping
  14. Watch a Baseball Game
  15. Harry Potter Non-Stop Movie Marathon
  16. Radio Silence (no music, tv, computer or phone for 24 hours)
  17. Watch a Movie Outside
  18. Go Roller Blading
  19. Go to a Concert
  20. Go Wading
  21. Go Bowling
  22. Make Caramel Apples
  23. Meal Over a Fire
  24. Launch a Firecracker
  25. Urban Exploration
  26. Have a BBQ
  27. Make a Quilt (started)
  28. Blow Bubbles on the Porch
  29. Play Bocce Ball
  30. Go People Watching
  31. Fill the Tank & Drive
  32. Make Wind Chimes
  33. Draw a Landscape
  34. Go Berry Picking
  35. Take a Weekend Trip Alone
  36. Paint a Canvas
  37. Do Yoga
  38. Make a Meal using only Farmer’s Market Food
  39. Spend the Afternoon on a Riverbank
  40. Watch a Sunrise
  41. Attend a Street Market
  42. Listen to Rock Music from a different country
  43. Picnic in the Park
  44. Start a Wish Tree
  45. See a Drive-In Movie
  46. Make Sangria
  47. Go for a Hike
  48. Go to a Fair
  49. Make a Banana Split
  50. Sketch Everyday
  51. Give to Others (donate old clothes to charity)
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35 Days of Celebration: 14-18

35 Days of Celebration: Days 14-18Holiday GoodiesI’ve been baking at least one holiday goodie a day all weekend, actually, since Wednesday. Rather seems like the thing to do this time of year, although I don’t really need all these lying about the house. Which is why most of them have been (or are being) put in the freezer for prolonged keeping. It will be nice already having a variety of sweets ready for various holiday functions. Likewise, I can pull one out for dessert should I desire, while not having them ready to eat at a moments notice. Should keep me from binging on all of them at once. Fingers crossed. I’ve remade Grinch Cookies and Trix Krispies as well as adding a couple new recipes: Nutella-Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies and Kringla, and then the traditional sugar cookies.

Grinch Cookies
Ingredients:

  • 1 pouch (1 lb 1.5 oz) sugar cookie mix
  • 1/2 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon mint extract
  • 8 drops green food color
  • 1 egg
  • 1 cup mint baking chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 350 degrees
  2. In large bowl, stir cookie mix, butter, extract, food color and egg until soft dough forms. Stir in both mint and chocolate chips.
  3. Using small spoons (teaspoons, drop dough 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 8-10 minutes or until set.
  5. Remove from oven and cool.

Trix Krispies
Ingredients:

  • 1 x 400g bag of mini marshmallows
  • 10 cups Trix cereal
  • 1/4 cup butter

Directions:

  1. Place the butter and marshmallows in a glass bowl and pop in the microwave for about 2 to 3 minutes to melt.
  2. Stir well.
  3. Mix in your trix and stir.
  4. Pour into a large greased pan (9 x 13 or 11 x 11) and press down with a spoon.
  5. Cut into squares.

Nutella-Cranberry White Chocolate Chip Cookies
Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks butter, soft
  • 1/2 cup Nutella
  • 1 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 bag (12-ounces) white chocolate chips, divided
  • 1 bag (5-ounces) dried cranberries, divided

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • Prepare a cookie sheet and set aside. Do not grease.
  • In a large mixing bowl, combine butter and Nutella; mix until creamy.
  • Add light brown sugar, sugar, and baking soda; continue to beat until combined.
  • Beat in eggs, one at a time.
  • Add vanilla and continue to mix until thoroughly combined.
  • Add flour in batches; beat each batch until combined. You may have to stir in the last batch of flour.
  • Stir in 1/2-bag of white chocolate chips and 1/2 bag of dried cranberries.
  • Drop by rounded spoons on prepared cookie sheets, 2 inches apart.
  • Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until edges are just browned.
  • Cool on cookie sheets for 2 minutes then transfer to wire rack.
  • Decorate with the rest of the white chocolate chips and dried cranberries as they cool.
  • Cool completely.
  • Serve.

Kringla
Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup margarine
  • 2 eggs
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 3 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 tsp. baking powder

Directions:

  1. Cream sugar and margarine until smooth.
  2. Add eggs and sour cream.
  3. Sift flour, baking soda and baking powder. Stir Well
  4. Let cool overnight.
  5. Shape in figure 8’s and bake at 375 until done

Until next time
~ Q

35 Days of Celebration 01 | 02 | 03 | 04 | 05 | 06 | 07 & 08 | 09 | 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 16 | 17

Quick Post: Throwing Together Supper

Rice and FruitOne of the nice things about living alone is that I don’t have to answer “What are we having for supper?” There are downsides that I have mentioned (most meals I make are for 4 or more people) but occasionally the unknown dinner is a blessing. Take the other day when I threw together rice, strawberries, blueberries and shredded carrots then called it quits. Not in my wildest dreams would I have planned for this to be a meal, but in the end it worked out. I didn’t really use amounts, just enough for one person. So a cup or so of rice and handful of diced strawberries (ditto the blueberries and carrots). When the rice was almost done I added the other ingredients so they all would get heated up. Fun fact warm blueberries practically burst with flavor, I’ll have to remember that for the future.

Fancy Fish

It’s that time of week where I have my family dinner. Since instigating this last month it has been rather successful in making sure I see my parents at least once a week. They live about ten miles away, there really is no reason for me to not see them weekly. Although they are hosting tonight figured I’d share the recipe from when I hosted last Wednesday.

I don’t cook a whole lot of meat. Browning burger or cooking chicken is about as complex as I get. In light of the Easter season I decided to make fish. This was a major deal for me, turns out I didn’t have much to fear. I bought some cod fillets; chopped up a tomato that I combined with diced pineapple and presto-chango done! The biggest issue was that I’m use to meat changing color has it cooks. Chicken goes from pink to white, beef from red to brown etc. Fish apparently goes from white to white.Lacking this foreknowledge I did over cook the fish a bit, but I usually prefer me meat overcooked rather than risk the alternative. I don’t want to hear the cow moo when I bit into a burger, sue me. Toss in some steamed vegetables and rice and it was ready to serve. A simple, yet effective, meal.

FishIngredients:

  • 4-6 oz fish fillets (I used cod)
  • 1 cup diced pineapple (I used a can)
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • 1/2 tablespoon chili paste

Directions:

  • Preheat oven to 375
  • Line 9×13 baking pan with aluminum foil and place fillets on foil (if yours were ever frozen be sure they are defrosted)
  • In a bowl mix pineapple, tomato and chili paste. Once combined divide and place topping on fillets.
  • Bake in oven for 20 minutes (obviously this is flexible ‘cook until the fish flakes apart’ were the directions I had)

As you can see from the slightly out-of-focus photo I also chose to serve my fish on a small bed of spinach. Presentation is everything.

My kitchen focus was severely lacking the other day

Pesto Pepper PizzaI have recently initiated meal planning into my life. I go a pinch overboard and plan a month in advance. Since I live alone, I really only have to pick out 8-10 recipes that I’ll spread out over the month. Any who, I was planning on making Chicken Pesto Pizza for lunch one week. I was at one grocery store and decided to wait on getting the chicken until later in the week when I’d hit up Fareway, however that stop never happened. It was 8:50 on Monday night when I was getting ready to bake the pizza that I would have for lunch the following day when I realized my mistake. By that time my local grocery store was closed (which is only 4 blocks away, so sad) as well as Fareway, by the time I would have driven over to the next town. What could I do? Not make it and have something else for lunch (a good solution) or make it without the title ingredient. As the picture shows I chose the latter, I made Pesto Pepper Pizza and it was delicious. It’s passed all my ‘rules’: it’s good hot, reheated and cold. The perfect single person food or at least I enjoy it all those ways. My taste buds diverge from the norm. For instance I’ve never gotten the extreme love for steak. Yeah it’s good and all but I’m just as happy with a well cooked chicken breast or even a burger. All-in-all, despite my short comings, I was (and am) quite pleased with the end result. Also I have a second pizza crust that I can try the correct recipe on. Win-win.

The altered recipe is below, until next time.
~ Q

PestoPizza_LargeIngredients:

  • 2 cups spinach (frozen + thawed)
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil – set 1/2 tsp aside
  • 3 teaspoons basil
  • 3 teaspoons parsley
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
  • 1-12″ prebaked pizza shell
  • 1 orange pepper, cut into small strips
  • 1 water-packed canned artichoke hearts, rinsed and drained, patted dry and quartered (the recipe called for 1/2 cup which is about 3 but I thought they smelled funny so I only used one – turns out I like them though so all three next time.)
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese

Directions:

  • Preheat oven according to package (mine said 450 I believe)
  • Thaw the frozen spinach by placing it in a microwaveable bowl and microwaving it for 2 minutes.
  • Transfer the spinach into a blender or food processor, and add the remaining ingredients. Blend until smooth and creamy. (If the pesto is too thick, a small amount of water may be necessary to thin it out.)
  • Spread 1/2 teaspoon of olive oil over crust before spreading pesto
  • Top with peppers, artichokes, and cheese
  • Cook for 10 minutes

Happy Pi Day!

Pi DayIn honor of all things geeky (or nerdy or dorky depending on how you want to view/define this) I assembled little pie’s for the office. I emphasize assemble since last night I hosted family dinner night and didn’t have the wherewithal to attempt my first solo from scratch pie ever. However that is neither here nor there. Be sure to go out and get yourself some pie to celebrate 3.14! And if you can grab that pie at 1:59 so much the better.

In closing the first several digits of pie (I’m a cheater and Googled it, I only know 3.1415926 off the top of my head). 3.141592653589793238462643383279502884197169399375105820974944592307816406286 208998628034825342117067982148086513282306647093844609550582231725359408128481 117450284102701938521105559644622948954930381964428810975665933446128475648233 786783165271201909145648566923460348610454326648213393607260249141273724587006 606315588174881520920962829254091715364367892590360011330530548820466521384146 951941511609433057270365759591953092186117381932611793105118548074462379962749 567351885752724891227938183011949129833673362440656643086021394946395224737190 702179860943702770539217176293176752384674818467669405132000568127145263560827 785771342757789609173637178721468440901224953430146549585371050792279689258923 … you get the picture

Fruit Pizza Redux

FruitCup_CloseLast week I had cause to make some desserts. My mom’s family came down to celebrate my uncle’s birthday and then we had an office luncheon to celebrate the birthday of one of my coworkers. I was trying to make something health (even if faux-healthy, it was still dessert) so I opted for fruit pizza. Fruit pizza is somewhat of a family ‘thing’.

When I was in elementary school each of my homeroom teachers could expect a fruit pizza compliments of my family. Excessive? You be the judge, but we were always making a bunch for the high school teachers, where my dad was principal. When you’re already making eight, what’s one more?

Fast forward to last fall when I first modified the fruit pizzas for individual consumption. My office participated in the town’s progressive dinner. We baked several dozen individual sugar cookies (rather than baking them as one giant pizza) and had people who stopped in for the event top them however they wanted. It was a HUGE hit (if I do say so myself. However, since people were talking about it after they left our office, I feel confident in that statement).

Fast forward again to where we began this tale, last week. I was looking for a way to bake the little delights but have it more contained. The toppings have a tendency to roll off once cut up into individual pieces, if baked in large pizza form. The solution (so simple I’m sad it took me this long to discover it)? Bake the cookies in muffin tins. The edges curled up and held the filling and fruit marvelously. Now I decided (since I have so much free time on my hands apparently) that I’d try something different for my coworker, so I used up all the sugar cookie dough on my uncle’s treats.

For my second attempt I started with pastry dough. This may have worked if I cooked it all at once, but traditionally the fruit pizza is cooked then cooled then topped. The pastry dough, in it’s nature, cooked to be way to fluffy and airy. No such luck in being able to then top it so everything would stay on. Panicking, since it was now eight o’clock the night before I was suppose to bring the treats, I quickly checked the pantry. I still had graham crackers from my s’more cookie experiment. This lead me to the Google machine to look up simple graham crust recipes. Low and behold the inter-webs did not let me down and using muffin tins again I baked cute little individual fruit pizza pies. Perhaps pie is the wrong word, the crusts were flat and did not curve up the side at all, next time perhaps.

Although the two attempts yielded very different results I think I’m going to keep both in my repertoire. Also, as I topped each piece I felt like a real gourmet and quite fancy. Not the usual for yours truly. Besides the pastry crust being a total fail there were no huge mishaps. Progress?

Until next time (recipes below)
~ Q

Cream Cheese Filling
(split between the two recipes)

Ingredients

  • 1-8 oz package cream cheese
  • 1-16 oz tub whip cream (I think it was 16 oz, the standard tub size)

Directions

  • Allow cream cheese to sit until room temperature. If you’re impatient warm SLIGHTLY in the microwave. Also let the cream cheese warm up a tinge. (This is only necessary if you are coming directly from the grocery store where it’s been stored in the freezer. If it’s already it’s fluffy usual state that’s not necessary.)
  • Stir two ingredients together until well combined. Set aside or in fridge until ready for use.

Fruit Cookie CupsFruitCups

Ingredients

  • 1 container sugar cookie dough (or bake your own from scratch)
  • 24 blueberries
  • 1 kiwi, cut into 24 pieces
  • 6 strawberries, quartered
  • 3/4 of cream cheese filling mixture

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350 (or whatever package instructs)
  • Spray muffin tins (or use non-stick)
  • Divide dough into 24 separate balls
  • Flatten dough into disks that snugly fit the bottom of regular sized muffin tins
  • Once oven is preheated place tins in oven and cook for 10-12 minutes – or until thoroughly cooked. I used 2-12 muffin tins so I rotated them top for bottom halfway through.
  • Allow to cool completely before filling with cream cheese mixture. I used about half a spoonful in each cookie, not a science though, just wing it.
  • Top with cut up fruit. As stated I used kiwi, blueberries and strawberries. Feel free to use whatever your little heart desires. If made to these specifications you’ll have 24 servings, each about 125 calories (according to my app).

Fruit Pie Cups Fruit Pie Cups

Ingredients

  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons sugar (although I think it could be omitted entirely)
  • 8 graham crackers, finely crushed
  • 18 blueberries
  • 1/2 kiwi, cut into 6 pieces
  • 3 strawberries, halved
  • 1/4 of cream cheese filling mixture

Directions

  • Preheat oven to 350
  • Spare muffin tins (or use non-stick)
  • Combine butter, crushed crackers and sugar
  • Once well combined, pack into the bottom of 6 regular sized muffin tins.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, or until well set/cooked. Again, here I rotated it from bottom to top.
  • Allow to cool fully before topping with cream cheese filling
  • Top each cup with kiwi slice, strawberry and 3 blueberries. Again, use whatever ingredients you want but if made to these specifications you’ll have 6 servings, each about 250 caloires (according to the app, again).