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Random Recipe Round-Up

Random Recipe Round-Up

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Another random photo, another list of 10 recent Pinterest cooking adventures.  Enough said!

1. Cherry Kale Salad

Pretty much balsamic vinaigrette makes everything wonderful.  However, I did like this salad recipe for suggesting a pretty combination of summer fruits to go with the aforementioned yummy dressing.  I don’t like eating straight raw kale, so I chopped it finely and mixed it with some other greens.

2. Key Lime Meltaways

A refreshing no-bake lime dessert that isn’t cheesecake!  These were a little far over on the sweet side, but still a good summer entertaining option.  Especially when limes were on sale at 10 for $1

3. Rosemary Crock Pot Bread

Yep, it works to make bread in the crock pot.  The first time I broiled the top crust as suggested (too much, and then burned it) so the second time I didn’t bother with that step.  It works fine either way.  Crock Pot bread isn’t quite as good as oven-baked, but it is sure a decent way to have fresh bread in the summertime without heating everything up.

4. Buttermilk Peach Ice Cream

What’s not to love about homemade ice cream?  I always like it.  The pureed peaches in this recipe make the texture a little icier and a little less creamy, but summer and peaches just go together so I was OK with that.  The buttermilk seemed to bring out more peach flavor.

5. Mandarin Orange Chicken Salad

Another Asian summer salad variety, similar to the one in the last post.  Make this one this week, and the other one next week–lots of ingredients in common.  I skipped frying the won ton strips and just used chow mein noodles.

6. Broccoli Apple Salad

I made this for the church picnic and it was yummy.  I made it again for staff lunch and didn’t make the dressing quite as well, but I have enjoyed finely chopped broccoli as a salad ingredient in a variety of ways lately, so this is a decent recipe to have on hand.

7. Cardamom Sugar Cookies

I didn’t actually make these ones for Christmas, but next year I will!  Cardamom is an unusual and distinct flavor that I really like, and these beauties showed it off well.

8. Lasagna Soup

This is a cold-weather classic, and was well received at staff lunch (as usual).  I think it tastes even better than regular lasagna, it is much easier, and the leftovers are delish.  I’ve modified the recipe, adding another can of tomatoes and cooking the noodles in the soup broth rather than doing them separately.  Penzey’s pizza seasoning is perfect in place of all the spices listed, since it contains fennel which gives that Italian sausage flavor.

9. Summer Salad with Orange Basil Dressing

Although this recipe is now out of season because I’ve taken so long to write this post, I had to include it anyway.  The dressing is SUPER!  Plant basil plants in the spring just so you can make this stuff.  Really.  It is even better than pesto, and lots of staff lunch eaters have asked for the recipe, so here it is.

10. Winter Salad with Sage Vinaigrette

Wow, lots of salad recipes here–you are going to think I am much healthier than I really am!  Anyway, I had to include this one because it uses ingredients that are more typical of cold-weather grocery shopping.  The dressing here is also good, especially if you can come by fresh sage.  (My sage plant is protected, so it usually has a few soft leaves all year round.)

There you have it–ten random recipes that I’ve tried over the last several months.  Bon Apetit!

Budding Chef

Budding Chef

One fun feature of this summer was the advent of Nathan’s cooking career!  Since he got a cookbook as a birthday present, he was excited to plan and cook dinner for us a few times each month over the summer.

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Nathan and I have enjoyed spending extra time together.  It has also been a good way for me to share a useful skill that I enjoy, and an excellent challenge to develop patience in this mom and life skills in this boy!

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Here are some of the yummy things Nathan has made: Tabbouleh, Carrot-Raisin Salad, Oven Fries, Chicken Burgers, Oat Bars, and Knickerbocker Glories (the fancy ice cream sundaes pictured below.)

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Come on over for a meal sometime!

Catching Up–Christmas Preparations

Catching Up–Christmas Preparations

In all that happened because of the basement flood, I was surprised to find that being forced to set up Christmas ahead of schedule was one of my most grumpy moments.  I don’t know why it mattered, since we were only a week ahead of our normal date and we were going to be out of town then anyway, but I was just grouchy and irritable about having to decorate the house because the boxes were damaged and the tree was wet, instead of decorating because I had been anticipating and looking forward to the day when it was finally time to usher in the Advent season.  Go figure.  In any case, my children we exuberantly excited, my husband was very patient, and with the addition of some real homemade peppermint cocoa, I finally felt part of the fun by the end of our Christmas set-up day.

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A few weeks later, as Than and I were talking after a date night to a musical version of The Christmas Carol (which, incidentally, was excellent), I reflected that maybe my attitude had something to do with the reason that Christmas tale is such a classic.  My idea was that everyone feels a bit like Scrooge each Christmas.  Some people more, some people less, some people for the whole season, some for just a moment here or there, but it seems that there is a process of not really looking forward to part or all of Christmas, and then eventually realizing that there is something about the celebration of Christ’s coming, both past and future, that can win us over to joy.  I know the Scrooge story isn’t a strictly religious one, but as with all good stories I think there are deep strains of godly truth even if they came from a more secular pen.

Anyway, enough ruminating!!  Here are some more pictures of later Christmas preparations.  (Who needs more words to read?!!  I know, I know, just post kid pictures and stop yapping.  OK.)

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Decorating the already-assembled gingerbread house that magically managed to stay intact in the mail, all the way from St. Louis!

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Lots of candy eating as well as decorating, which is half the fun of a gingerbread house.  (And I got to decorate the Christmas gingerbread cookies at the same time, fun for all!)

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My faithful chef’s helper, in our new matching aprons sewn by a loving grandma.  I was surprised how different it was this year to do the bulk of my Christmas baking alone, with my girl at school all day.  Not terrible, not wonderful, just different!

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Our kickoff to Christmas vacation was a visit to the Botanic Gardens light display, which was spectacular.  Very cold, but worth the shivering!  We got to enjoy a later trip to the display at the Arboretum as well, which was even more impressive.  Hooray for the gift of a garden membership and the gift of people to come with us!!

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The merry bakers, at it again.  This time they were testing out a brownie baking set kindly given by a friend at church.  They managed to make brownies from scratch with my supervision but with no actual work on my part!  I felt like the Martha Stewart mom on the front of the box, with kids in matching aprons working away with cute color-coded baking cups and spoons!

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My sweet pair, dressed in their festive best and ready for the Christmas concert downtown, a special treat each year.

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And I couldn’t resist one more cooking picture–Katya with the cookie trays she helped me assemble to bring for Christmas Eve services at church.  I love that tradition!!

Sorry for the super-long post, but I’m trying not to make two months worth of catching up drag on and on.  There will be more Christmas pics before this is all finished, but enough for now.  Stay tuned for more in the next post!

Recipes

Recipes

After many promises and very slow follow-through, here are the menus from some recent cooking events.  Most of the recipes came from Pinterest links, but I’ve re-posted them through my own recipe database so that any modifications I made will be included.

 

If I had to pick my top two favorites from all the ones listed, I’d go for the Caprese Skewers and the Strawberry Kiwi Pavlovas, although the Autumn Brittle and the Raspberry Chocolate Chip cookies are close runners up…

Pastor’s Wives Snacks

(Pinterest inspired the sprinkle-rimmed cups and skewered cookies.  Cute, but the sprinkles kept falling off the cups and weren’t super easy to eat/drink!)

 

Hummus (Test Kitchen recipe)

Olive Oil Crackers (recipe and photo from Baking Bites blog post, I added some ground flax seed and whole wheat flour to make mine multigrain)

Chocolate Chai Cookies

Butterscotch Spice Cookies

Raspberry Cornmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies (recipe and photo from Baking Bites blog)

September Staff Lunch

Roasted Veggie Sandwiches (recipe and photo from Light and Tasty website)

BBQ Pork (didn’t use a recipe, but it turned out GREAT this time–just rubbed the pork loin with salt, pepper, garlic powder, and paprika, then put it in the crock pot on low for about 8 hours.  Shredded in the food processor, tossed with not too much Sweet Baby Ray’s BBQ sauce–perfect!)

Green Bean Nectarine Salad (recipe and photo from Better Homes and Gardens)

Arugula Radish Salad (recipe and photo from Dinner, A Love Story)

Carmelized Apple Upside-Down Cake

 

Open House

Cream Puffs filled with Chicken Salad (used the basic Cream Puff recipe from here)

Olive Oil Crackers (a double batch of the same recipe I used above)

Roasted Red Pepper Hummus (double batch of America’s Test Kitchen recipe with 1 jar drained roasted red peppers blended in)

Caprese Skewers (photo from Terri’s Table blog)

Autumn Brittle (photo from Adventures in Cooking blog)

 

Snickerdoodles

Apple Pie Cookies (photo from Annie’s Eats blog)

Strawberry Kiwi Pavlovas (photo from Skinny Taste blog)

Phew, glad to get all that done!!

Staff Lunch Recipes

Staff Lunch Recipes

A well-received staff lunch today–hardly anything left!!  Here’s the menu…

Shake ‘n Bake Chicken (if you only try one recipe, this one should be it!!)

Bravas Potatoes and Sweet Potatoes

Veggies for dipping

Dipping sauces–BBQ sauce, Honey French Dressing, Spicy Sweet Chile Sauce, Homemade Bleu Cheese Dressing, Ketchup, Honey Mustard, Dijon Herb Dip

Minted Strawberry Fool

A slightly sad lunch today, since my sweet helper Katya was sick and had to stay home!  (Thanks to the last minute babysitter…)  I missed her help and her company.  I was very grateful for all the extra help from the church staff to get ready on time, since I was very late coming in.  Hopefully Katya will feel better soon.  She was disappointed to miss all the fun!

Random Quote

Random Quote

Cooking is like love.  It should be entered into with abandon or not at all.–Harriet Van Horne

This quote reminds me to just jump in and go for it!  I’m not a very good risk taker, but too much caution can be detrimental to good results (in food and in relationships.)  So take a chance…ask a tricky question…buy a kumquat…let me know what happens!  (Of course, a mistake in cooking is much easier to deal with then a mistake in love, but I think the rewards are commensurate with the risk…)

Birthday Cake

Birthday Cake

I had lots of fun making Katya’s birthday cake (and cupcakes) this year.  Hooray for little girls that ask for pink princesses!!  It was a good excuse to get some sparkly purple sugar and cake decorator’s pearls, as well as use my cutting machine and have fun with my mom.  Here are the results…

The Princess Cupcakes (an upside down cupcake with a computer printed, machine cut princess stuck in on a toothpick)

The Princess Cake (baked in a glass bowl, made a little taller with some inventiveness on my mom’s part, princess is a color-your-own wooden “paper” doll from Hobby Lobby that Katya got to keep)

They aren’t as cute as my little girl playing princess in her dress-up clothes, but they were fun and she was pleased.  Success!!

Gingerbread

Gingerbread

We welcomed my cousin Leah to our gingerbread decorating this year.  The kids did a few, then ran off to play, so I’m sure glad I had some company to finish the rest!

Later in the week, Than’s mom brought over supplies for gingerbread houses so after the kids went to bed the grownups went to work.  Fun!  We’ll do a kid version later in the Christmas break.

Failure

Failure

Just in case you think all my cooking adventures are happy ones, I better post this picture from my recent attempt to make a lavender lemon bundt cake…

Final result?  Pan in the trash, angry chef, trip to King Soopers instead of homemade dessert.  (Although I did get to serve the cake the next day to a friend and her kids, so all was not lost!)

Staff Lunch Recipes

Staff Lunch Recipes

Today was our monthly staff lunch, and I experimented with a new curry recipe.  It turned out to be an OK experiment!  Here are the recipes I used

Starter Chicken Curry

Avocado Ranch Dressing

Melon and Strawberry with Mint Syrup

Deluxe Chocolate Marshmallow Bars

Nathan was happy to be included, since he misses staff lunch during the year.  I was grateful for a little extra help from some 5th and 6th grade students that were with Than learning about how the church works.