Archive for the ‘food’ Tag

Frozen hot chocolate

Monday, September 24th, 2012 by Jen

Because I’m trying to pretend like summer isn’t really gone, even though I brought out all the fall clothes this weekend, I made some frozen hot chocolate because we haven’t made it to Serendipity’s yet in NYC. Perhaps we can save our money now next time we visit, because it was yummy but definitely not hard to make and enjoy with a straw! The recipe made enough for all four of us.


Monday, January 9th, 2012 by Jen

Today we made bagels which is something I’ve never done before. We eat a lot of them so I thought we’d try. Part whole-wheat, and some flavored ‘everything’, others flavored parmesan and a few plain. They were a lot of work. The dough was so stiff that they mixer couldn’t keep mixing it, it started to smoke. So I had to finish kneeding it by hand. Josie and my mom helped out some too with the kneeding to start with. Then they rise again and we boiled and baked them off. The recipe had us flip them, but mine seemed to have no problem cooking through and flipping the bagels made their tops look terrible so next time I may not do that. I’d definitely bake them on parchment next time too, rather than a lightly greased sheet then they’d stay a little more whole. But they are/were tasty. We ate a lot of them already.

Celia got her hands into it too by making the ‘worms’ with her best effort. Here’s Josie’s discussion of the bagels later.

Favorite meals of 2011

Monday, January 2nd, 2012 by Jen

I’m always on the hunt for new recipes to try and expand our tastes and enjoy and so I want to share some of our favorites from this year that we’ve started making. This has definitely been the year of using my slow cooker.

  • Vegetable enchiladas. I’ve been experimenting with different recipes and this one is by far my favorite, especially in the height of summer when everything is ripe and perfect.
  • Veggie dogs in biscuit blankets. I know this is pathetically easy and I’ve been making them for a long time with crescent rolls, but it’s quick and yummy and when the crescent rolls from Trader Joes are disgustingly moldy even though you just bought them, biscuit dough (half a recipe) from Joy of Cooking saved the day.
  • Quinoa with black beans and corn. We’ve done a lot of quinoa this year although less so now that Celia is eating with us as it is a tremendously messy food. Still tasty, but I’ll just wait for her to get a bit better at eating.
  • Tofu with spinach in the slow cooker. This is an approximation of Indian cooking, which is good, although not nearly Punjab good. But also not Punjab prices.
  • Crockpot Tapioca pudding. Real tapioca takes a long time and requires a ton of stirring. In the crockpot it takes a bit longer but requires very minimal stirring and tastes really good. I like to get my tapioca pearls from amazon, dirt cheap although the supply will likely last me all year. I think I’ll make a version with coconut and coconut milk soon. Too bad for Jordi that he doesn’t like it.
  • Vegetarian meatloaf. (the first recipe) Unfortunately this has been off the menu since Celia joined us in eating as it has nuts in it, but it will return once she has proven non-allergic to nuts!
  • We tried two kinds of chili which I keep making, just to get some variety in the basic yummy dish!
  • I learned how to make my own falafel, which I definitely should have tried earlier. The box mixes are terrible and the already made version is obnoxiously expensive for what is purreed beans.
  • Baked beans. I’ve shared this one before, but it’s been my winner slow cooker recipe.

I look back on this list and yet still each week I’m still wondering what’s for dinner. Like right now, I should be making our grocery list and meal plans but I am uninspired. Love to see your favorite recipes for the year to inspire me too!

Pea Salad

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011 by Jen

Tonight we had pea salad for dinner. It’s ok to laugh. I did multiple times today when I had to tell Jordi and Josie what was for dinner. But it was pretty good and did not require heating up my kitchen. We had it with bread. Josie refused to even try it, more for us. Celia likes peas, although she didn’t get the dressed ones. She had her first egg yolk today and found it to be dry but she kept trying it. She also climbed onto Josie’s bed for the first time today, let’s hope she doesn’t learn to climb stairs in the next week.

We’ve now taken 10,000 pictures since getting this camera, the numbers rolled over!

Chocolate syrup

Thursday, June 9th, 2011 by Jen

Tuesday Josie and I made a batch of homemade chocolate syrup together. I’m trying to get the HFCS out of our diet and work towards whole foods as much as I can and the hersheys has the HFCS, and nestle has lots of dye’s so we made our home made stuff out of good quality Penzey’s cocoa. It’s a hit! (served from our supposed-to-be-a-mustard-squirter-so-it’s-yellow-but-who-cares squeeze bottle)


Friday, April 1st, 2011 by Jen

Last week for mommy needs some cookies now Purim, we made Hamentashen cookies for the first time in either of our lives. The dough was easy, but the recipe was terrible because they neglected to mention to add the water (or quantity of said water) they listed in the ingredients. I couldn’t get anything to stick together but thankfully someone else commented about this mis-step in the online comments and we finally figured it out. I was way too lazy/afraid Celia would wake up in middle, to make a real filling. We stuffed them with chocolate chips instead. They were yummy and Josie really got the hang of pounding out the dough by the end and filling them.

Slow cooking through February

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011 by Jen

I continued to use my slow cooker a lot in February and found some more good recipes, not so many duds.

  • Baked beans. I had forgotten this one in my first post I think, but it was actually the first thing I made at all. Served it with some yummy corn muffins and it was well devoured by Jordi and me.
  • Baked spinach and cheese noodles. This was a tremendous fail, just icky and overcooked. Do not try this.
  • Tofu in peanut sauce. This had a good flavor, but it was very dry and thick. Making this again I’d need to add more liquid into the sauce, it was almost as thick as regular peanut butter. But the flavor was right on, so some broth to thin it out would have been tasty.
  • Chili. We generally like our chili without tomatoes and made very thick so that I can just make chili cheese nachos with it. But we liked this recipe a lot too, so it was great to have a new version to add that’s different. Don’t forget the extra toppings!
  • Potato soup. This was a bit thick and I think it had all too much pepper in it, Jordi thought it was fine. But otherwise it was a good basic soup. I’d water it down a bit more next time and I’m basically finding that either my pepper is too fresh, or I just don’t pepper my foods like other people are inclined to do, I wait until the end to add salt and pepper now.
  • Split pea soup. This was yummy with a different flavor than I’m used to for split pea soup, it tried to imitate the idea of having a ham bone in it while being vegetarian, so it used some sugar and spices. We liked it and had it with grilled cheese.
  • Thai tofu vegetable curry. We liked this one again, fairly mild taste and a nice entry entree for me into Thai cooking which I don’t do much of. Next time I need to cut the yam pieces smaller so they cook faster.
  • Lentil tortellini soup. We really liked this, Josie was a big fan considering there is pasta in it. She may have even snuck a few lentils in along with it. We had it with some homemade bread.
  • Squash stew. This was kindly recommended by Bhuvana and it was delicious, slightly sweet from the squash which completely melted into the broth for a really unique and different kind of soup.
  • Wonderful Lentils. We liked this, it made a ton. I would cook the onion on the stove first next time, it was a little crunchy. I somehow totally screwed up the spice shopping for this recipe and didn’t have most of them, so I added in a little adobo seasoning. It reminded me of hamburger helper except with lentils, guess that’s the salt and garlic powder I added! Oh and I certainly did not put in reduced fat cheese, just the regular stuff.
  • Minestrone soup. This was a standard soup that came out ok, nothing amazing.

I also made this Red Lentil soup which a mom had made for me after Celia was born. It is delicious, but it’s not in the slow cooker although I’m sure it could be converted. All in all it was a month with a lot of soup, given how cold it is outside! Not too many abject failures and some really good keepers. Please do share more if you’ve got ideas!

Slow cooking through January

Friday, February 11th, 2011 by Jen

For Christmas this year my parents got me a slow cooker. I had no idea how much it would change my cooking habits or at least infuse some new recipes into my life. My stash of pre-made frozen food ran out right around Christmas (although I can still find a few things of soup or chili). I’ve been trying to figure out how to make food for dinner that is healthy and doable as all mothers of small children know, late afternoon is not the best time for focusing on something other than your kids. Enter the slow cooker which I can put the ingredients into in the morning, or throughout the morning if it’s really one of those bad days, and have something ready to eat when Jordi gets home that is healthy and yummy and to boot the kitchen isn’t a total trash pit from having just finished cooking. So here’s some of the recipes I’ve tried and our experiences:

  • Macaroni and cheese. Oldie but a goodie standard. We liked this one a lot, although I find I want to put better cheese into it than just my massive bag of shredded costco mexican cheese blend. We recommend trying it.
  • Vegetable tortilla soup. We had this with cheese quesidillas. It came out ok, a little thin as we tend to like pretty thick soups. It may appear in our house again with less broth.
  • No noodle lasagna. Why would you want lasagna without noodles? I guess if you’re gluten free or otherwise sensitive. We like our pasta around here. But I also liked the dish, Jordi and Josie were not so thrilled. The eggplant turned out sponge-like, which didn’t bother me, because I dislike slimey eggplant and this was not at all slimy. We had it on pasta.
  • Lentil Stew. This looked like it had the right ingredients and it was certainly healthy but did not taste particularly good. We won’t be making that again. It needed more flavor.
  • Potato Leek Soup. It was tasty enough, but again not a big ‘wow’. I think it needed more garlic. With a lot of these soups it’s nice to have something different than the normal ones I make.
  • Indian Spinach with Tofu. You should make this, for dinner tomorrow. It was very yummy and quite easy. We had it with the frozen garlic naan from trader joes.
  • Sweet and sour tofu. This was a recipe that clearly was being forced into the crockpot as opposed to using the crockpots strengths, but it fared well. We liked it although the sauce was very sweet.
  • Broccoli and three cheese soup. This was ok, at this point I can’t remember what kind of cheese I used but I’m not sure I believe that broccoli does all that great being cooked a long time. Makes the house smell a bit funny.
  • Quinoa casserole. This was a big win and it was the second time I’ve ever cooked quinoa, the first time was good too and was only earlier this month. It was a light dinner with nice subtle flavors, Jordi went back for several servings.
  • Refried beans soup. Nothing out of this world but a good solid bean soup that was yummy and different from my normal ones.
  • Honey tofu with broccoli. Another recipe forcing a stir-fry into the slow cooker, I think this one I actually started too late and just made it a normal stir fry. It was good and Josie even ate her fair share, but lots and lots of honey.
  • Crockpot corn chowder. A light soup that was yummy. It might have been a little more to my liking if I had taken out some of the corn and pepper before I pureed it all up, but Josie is much more likely to eat things with a totally smooth consistency. We’ll be making this again.
  • Scalloped potatoes. This was awful, and I certainly didn’t try it with vegan cream cheese. I threw out the leftovers. Got to use my mandolin a little at least.
  • Black bean soup. I have a standard black bean soup recipe that I’ve always made for us, but it’s a little spicy for Josie and so this one was much more to her liking. We liked it too, I think we’ll try it again.
  • Vegetarian curry. Nothing too fancy, but it was dinner and yummy. Got even better the next night and a good way to get to eat Trader Joes garlic naan.

That was the new stuff for January. I’ve been working to keep menu planning at least a week or two in advance so that when I find time to go to the grocery store it’s not hard to make up a list of what we need and I’m also not left standing there at 5pm with two cranky kids and no ideas for dinner. February has yet not be so successful as January with the slow cooker, we’ve had some travel and celebrations that have us eating out, I’ve got some soups on the menu for next week that I’m hopeful about. The only trouble with the slow cooker is that most recipes call for broth or stock, which I think is drastically increasing the salt in our dinners since I generally cook with very little.

If you’ve got any vegetarian slow cooker recipes you love, please share! I also made these two recipes for friends as a gift, seeing as they have meat I obviously didn’t eat them, but the recipients said they were good.

Eggs and family needs

Friday, January 14th, 2011 by Jen

As I learn to be a mom in a family of four, I’m having to pick up some new tricks to make mornings go a little faster sometimes. Timing can be rough between nursing, showering and eating, I can often find myself the slow-cog in the getting us all out the door and into the world (because I need to eat, girls need to nurse, and I want to shower). I can’t change when Celia is hungry, we’ve both learned to shower less often, but making breakfast is something that I can speed up at times now. First help, I got a slow-cooker from my parents for Christmas. I didn’t know I wanted one, but I’ve now found it very useful for many things, most of which I will discuss later. But for now I’ve found it great for cooking oatmeal overnight. I make a water bath for a large measuring cup of milk and steel-cut oats (4-1 proportions), dash of salt, and it cooks on low for 8 hours overnight and is hot for me in the morning.

But often I want to eat eggs for breakfast for a big protein boost. I have been trying to toy around with recipes for ‘egg muffins’ which basically means omelet cooked in a muffin tin. I tried this one, at least in general, as I obviously didn’t put any sausage in it and the ‘muffins’ came out very airy and decently tasty for the first time, but deflated quickly and didn’t stay well in the fridge for the next day – which misses the point, I want to make them once and get to eat them for a few days. I have a few in the freezer too, but they haven’t been terribly attractive to me pulling them out.

So do you have a good egg casserole/muffin type recipe that is easy to reheat and in small enough portions? I have one broccoli ‘puff’ recipe which combines some flour and cheese with milk in a blender, but it’s rather time consuming and messy to make so I don’t do it often. I need a good morning egg strategy. Maybe I should just boil some?

Works for me Wednesday – what I did right with this baby

Thursday, January 13th, 2011 by Jen

Here’s two helpful tips I thought I’d share that I did with baby Celia that I found very helpful.

  1. Diaper changing bucket – I picked up a cleaning bucket like this one and keep diapers, changing pad, wipes, wet bag and some extra clothes in it. I can move it around in the house to change anywhere, important when Josie sleeps in the room with the changing table and diapers. I took it to bed with us each night for the first many weeks until she stopped needing to be changed at night because then I didn’t have to get out of bed. (Note to first time moms: limit getting out of bed at night as much as you can)
  2. Extra freezer – This isn’t entirely novel but I would recommend this to anyone who is willing to do some cooking ahead and wants to save money. I stuffed mine full and lived from it for two and a half months without having to cook dinner and some breakfasts. Even if you stuffed it full of things from costco, there’s nothing like knowing that every day you can just go downstairs and grab something for dinner rather than having to go to the store. Then when people asked me if there was something I needed from the store I could list one or two things most of the time (like eggs, milk, or bread) and we’d be pretty set. It was serious relaxation, home cooking that my toddler would eat and good nutrition to keep us relaxed for the early months of the new baby.

(Works for me Wednesday is a concept I’ve found on other blogs for ideas for how you do things that others might find useful, like here’s one)