Tag: cooking

Happy Weekend

Btw- this is my 800th post!

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This weekend has been fabulous.  I’m very happy! Since I have done my fair share of moaning and groaning on this blog (despite it’s merry title), I thought I’d share some pure happiness with you all.   I didn’t really take any photos of the days (mistake but I was just busy being happy not worrying about photos)

So here goes.  I’ve had a good work week and enjoyed watching the Olympics despite NBC’s attempt otherwise.  It has been a little bit of a disappointment in certain ways but I still enjoy them as a whole.  I know I’m working my hardest and whatever happens workwise in my future I’m enjoying the time right now.  So there’s that.

I’ve also had a pretty good sleep week and am feeling 100% healthy for the first time in over 2 months.  Hurray!

Even though I was feeling good I was having a hard time motivating myself to exercise.  I can’t really explain why I just was.  So I called my trainer and explained the problem and as the amazingly supportive person she is, she came up with a great, creative idea.  She offered to teach me some aqua aerobics instead of our normal meeting.

I’ve wanted to do this but simply never had, so I jumped at the chance.  My friend Lisa was planning on coming down for a visit and so I asked her if she would like to join in on the fitness class and she did.  The three of us had a blast!  It was a lot more fun than I thought it would and definitely a good workout (feeling it today!).  It was just fun to do something different and with friends.  I would like to do it again.

IMG_20140219_163151After exercise we went to dinner and had some Mexican food and good conversation.  It was a good time.  We ended the night by going to see the much hyped lego movie and you know what- it lived up to the hype!  It was extremely creative, funny and great for adults and kids (without the winking double entendres I hate in movies like Shrek).  The look is great and I thought it was going to be a Toy Story rip off but it really isn’t.  I definitely recommend it.

It has something for everyone.  Go see it.

So yesterday was great.  Then today I went to my BFF Emily’s baby shower.  This is baby shower #3 but it’s actually the first one I’ve been able to attend.  Emily was the only person I knew but it was a really cheerful fun group with great food.  I love finger foods, dips and things on skewers.  It’s just delicious.

One of the great things about Emily is she is a wonderful present opener.  She lights up no matter what she gets.  You could give her notepads and she’d say ‘you know I have been wanting notepads’ with a big smile.  I hope to be a great gift opener too.  I think I’m pretty good.  It’s a skill that should be taught because it really makes people feel good and it’s such a commonly needed social convention.

This is an old photo of Emily and I but I love it.  Great friend.
This is an old photo of Emily and I but I love it. Great friend.

Anyway, it was a lot of fun.  Then I got home and talked to my Mom for over an hour.  She was driving home and so I entertained her.  We talked about politics, Olympics, philosophy, family, my life, her life, everything.  When my Mom and I talk like that it’s our way of saying we love each other.  She’s been under a lot of stress lately and I think it helps to just talk with someone.  So many people are unwilling or awkward about talking about politics but it’s been something my Mom and I have always shared.  I love it.

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little worried about my strabismus in this picture but oh well!

So then I ended the night by making a very special dinner.  I’ve been carefully buying all the ingredients for the ultimate BLT-  sourdough bread, mayo, thick cut applewood smoked bacon (roasted in oven), romaine and vine ripe tomatoes.   Perfect!

That’s my weekend!  How are you doing?  I hope you are happy like me.  Happy Weekend!

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Cookbooks

Last week I made 2 recipes from a very special cookbook- ‘the best white bread’ and ‘italian chicken’.  Where did I get these recipes why from my very own cookbook. See below:

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a nice big hole in the sleeve for the main dishes. Kind of appropriate.
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Drinks
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Desserts my favorite section and not a bad drawing!
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yummy salads

When I was 17 I was heading off to college I wanted to take my mother’s best recipes with me, so I gathered them together into a 3 ring binder on blue paper separated into categories like drinks, bread, salads, desserts.  The thing that I love is even though it was just for me I did my own drawings to accompany the recipes.   How many 17 year old’s who can’t really draw to save their life do that?

Isn’t it interesting because I could have just written the recipes down.  I’m not an artist so why did I feel inspired to add the drawings to my little cookbook?  Who knows exactly what inspired me but I would like to think it was because I knew that the recipes were special, that they deserved to be memorialized in some way and even if I was the only one who would see the drawings (which I pretty much am until this post) it was still worth it.

And you know what? It has been worth it.  I feel happy whenever I look in my cookbook and see the drawings.  It’s like 17 year old me waiving and saying hello to 33 year old me.  Over the years flour and guck has built up on the plastic covers of the pages and even had several that got briefly melted but I haven’t changed them to new covers.  I like seeing the years and remembering the time I made candy and it melted the on the fudge recipe or seeing the flour and remembering the pancakes that I’ve made over the years.

Other recipes remind me of the cooking contests we used to have (some are actually from the contest like the Green and White Lasagna one below).  That is one of the best times of my childhood cooking with my siblings.  Pancakes also remind me of my Dad and how he tried diligently for weeks to make the perfect pancake.  A recipe for spaghetti  makes me think of my Mom and how we ate pasta and sauce at least once a week growing up.  I also see the apple pie recipe and think of all the family gatherings where my Mother made the perfect pie and wistfully wonder if I will ever have such a culinary moment (her’s are seriously the best)

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Italian Chicken is one of my favorites.
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Even have the butter label stuck on the pancake page1

It’s an amazing thing because at the same time that my cookbook brings back all those memories it is creating new one’s that I will look back on 5 years and see the flour from when I first made bread in my new house or the raspberry pies I made and brought to my friends the Porters. I don’t if I can think of anything else that is both a time capsule of past and present more than this cookbook.

For some reason I had an idea when I was young that this would be important so I not only made such a book for myself but when my sister got engaged I made a similar (if a bit nicer!) cookbook for her.  You see, she and her husband and spent much of their courting time with me and I had done most of the cooking.  At the time I was working and it was fun for me to cook for hungry guests and hear about their plans and adventures.  So, when I made Megan a cookbook it was more based on the recipes that I had made for her and not as much about the recipes Mom had made.

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Megan’s recipe was all based on things that were quick that I had made for them as they were courting and engaged.
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You’ll notice I have hand drawn drawings on Megan’s too. It just makes it more special.
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Chili was a favorite of mine in college. It was sort of dotored up canned goods but always tasty and cheap.
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the cover. So fun.

You will see in hers there is also the hand drawn artwork which I still find amazing as I am not much of a drawer but there was something about making a cookbook that made me draw by hand.  It’s like passing on a bit of who you are with what you cook so nothing else would work but your own hand at drawing.  And maybe the memory of making the drawings becomes part of the time capsule for past and future memories.  I hope it has been that for my sister.  I know she uses it often.

As I was making bread I said to myself ‘I wonder if most people would just look online for such a recipe?’ I’m sure they do and I look online often for sure but I hope that with the advancement we haven’t lost the value of creating family cookbooks, with personal touches of story and art for your life, your family to share and add on to.  Such a legacy of flour and egg cannot be transferred to an email or a pinterist pin.

Food has such a link to our survival, to what makes us literally alive; therefore, the stories it can tell can be monumental or sublimely small.  Without the family, homemade cookbook we lose some of those stories and some of that life.

So make a goal of it this year to write down your family recipes, add some illustrations (you’ve seen mine, don’t have to be so great) and then give similar gifts to those you love for their memories and by transference now your memories.  It’s just a good thing to do!

Don’t get so lost in the world of blogging, even food blogging, that you forget to make things that make memories.  Writing is powerful but so is art and beauty and cooking, so make a cookbook as a gift to your life! You’ll love it!

Ps.  I know there are companies that can make it all professional but I would discourage from that.  Make it you and everytime you see your wobbly version of a salad or a turkey you will smile and say to yourself ‘thanks 17 me love ya’ and those are the sublime moments of life.

Fast Comfort Food Contest

Don’t forget to send me your recipes for the cooking contest and get 6 month birchbox subscription!

Smilingldsgirl's Weblog

cooking contest2So friends we are going to have some fun together 🙂

Way back in 2010 I did a healthy recipe contest that was a lot of fun.  Recently I found myself thinking about it and wondering if I should try again now that I have many more followers than back then.  I’m afraid I have had little to no cooking motivation lately and just testing out the recipes will be motivating on that front so I figured why not!

rachel-at-party

So here are the rules to the contest:

All entries must be in by the end of 2013.

They can be appetizer or entrees but they must be able to cook within 30 minutes of prep (If they are crockpot or require more baking time that’s fine).

The healthier the better and while I am not going to forbid processed ingredients (canned soups, bisquick etc) the less the better.

Make it…

View original post 129 more words

Fast Comfort Food Contest

cooking contest2So friends we are going to have some fun together 🙂

Way back in 2010 I did a healthy recipe contest that was a lot of fun.  Recently I found myself thinking about it and wondering if I should try again now that I have many more followers than back then.  I’m afraid I have had little to no cooking motivation lately and just testing out the recipes will be motivating on that front so I figured why not!

rachel-at-party

So here are the rules to the contest:

All entries must be in by the end of 2013.

They can be appetizer or entrees but they must be able to cook within 30 minutes of prep (If they are crockpot or require more baking time that’s fine).

The healthier the better and while I am not going to forbid processed ingredients (canned soups, bisquick etc) the less the better.

Make it your recipe, but if it is based off somewhere else tell me.

1 entry per person.

Winner gets 6 month birchbox subscription (3 months for birchbox man).   If I get a great response will do 2nd place.

I’m open to any cuisines, and while I’m not rolling in cash, the price is not a qualification for the contest.  I’m also just one person so try to keep the recipes down to a normal family size- serve 4.

Seriously guys I need your help on this.  Please send your recipes in.  I will do my best to judge recipes as quickly as possible and announce a winner in early January.

Fun times!  Email entries to smilingldsgirl@yahoo.com.  Also you can ask my friend Amber I’m good on giving out the reward.

cooking contest

Thanksgiving for One vs 2.0

So the guest post is here!  Check it out at http://littleferrarokitchen.com/2013/11/thanksgiving-1-guest-post-smilinglds-girl/ .  It is based on a post I did last year when I was home for thanksgiving and missing the food I was used to. Take a look at last years post and you will see how much better this one is (especially the photography.  Thanks Dad! https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/11/25/thanksgiving-for-one/

I’m really proud of how everything turned out so please take a look and make some comments on Sam’s or my site.  Pass it on (especially to the singles that you know)

Last year I found myself facing a new predicament in life.  For the first time in my 32 years I was alone for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  Now I had friends who had me over for meals and the like but for the season and for Christmas day I was alone.

This is a situation that more Americans are finding themselves in every day.   In his wonderful book, Living Alone, Eric Klinenberg says that “In 1950, 22 percent of American adults were single. Now that number is almost 50 percent. One in seven adults lives alone”.    One in 7 and yet our society is still built on the assumption of companionship. When I venture out to say a movie or a nice restaurant by myself it is a near social pariah.  I do it anyway but it is still definitely outside the norm.

So, where does that leave the single who is alone for even more family-centric moments such as birthdays or holidays?  If they cannot find an urban tribe, quasi-family to associate with then they are left to celebrate alone, a depressing prospect for most of us.

Well, last year I decided to change that.  I was going to be spending the holidays alone and I would make the best of it.  I did pretty well through Halloween and even Christmas but Thanksgiving proved particularly difficult.  I had a friend invite me to her place for the actual day which was lovely but it wasn’t the meal I was used to and I found myself feeling nostalgic for the flavors of my family.

The logical solution was to make Thanksgiving for myself but how can one make a feast for one?  It seems impossible?  Fortunately I am not the type who is left undaunted by challenges and I decided to give it a try and you know what I learned- you can do Thanksgiving for One!  It is not only possible but very enjoyable. 

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

Here’s what I learned:

        1. Plan ahead so you don’t have all the cooking in one day.  Both  years I have done thanksgiving for one I have made the desserts the day before.  You could also do the rolls the day before if that is important to you.   Since it saves well I make the cranberry relish or sauce in advance also.
        2.  Pick 2 sides and make them really well.  It is impossible to duplicate a huge thanksgiving meal for one person and if you did how would you eat it all (and let’s be honest you will be a little sad so tons of food and lonely person probably not good combo).  I chose to make mashed potatoes and stuffing.   Sweet potatoes are an everyday item and not that special for me, so I will leave them out.
        3. There’s no reason to make everything yourself.  I used canned rolls because rolls aren’t that important to my Thanksgiving but you could certainly buy them from a good bakery or your local market.  You could even buy the turkey already cooked (or a rotisserie chicken) and focus on sides.
        4. Pick a veggie that you can buy in small amounts.  For example a head of lettuce is often too much for me and goes bad.  Green beans are great because I can buy just a handful and not waste.  One ear of corn, a couple carrots, things like that save on time and money.
        5. Don’t forget little details like real whipped cream and cranberry relish.  If your family always has a pickle platter have pickles.  Or if you secretly hate the family jello salad don’t make it!  That’s the great thing about cooking for yourself you can do whatever you want.  If you want to make turkey curry go for it.  Want to try sugar free recipe, go for it.   Want to make collard greens or eat ham instead of turkey do it!
        6. Because you are cooking for 1 live a little.  Buy lobster or mussels, get the good french butter or be like me and get a massage while on break!  There will be plenty of your life when you are scrimping and saving every cent to pay for kids and retirement.  An occasional treat for a single’s dinner is highly worth it!  Plus, you can afford to go organic, get grass-fed meat, artisan bread.  Whatever excites you!
        7. Plan on ways to save meals and use components for 2nd and 3rd meals.  Like having turkey sandwiches or potato soup after thanksgiving dinner.  I make up these little TV dinners so they are ready to go when I’m in the mood for a little home cooking.To quote the amazing Judith Jones “Some say Why would I want to go to all that trouble just for me? My answer is: If you like good food, why not HONOR YOURSELF enough to make a pleasing meal and relish every mouthful.”  Cheers to me!

Menu

Turkey breast roasted with fresh herbs and gravy

Cornbread stuffing with maple sausage and apricots

Yukon gold mashed potatoes

Cranberry relish

Green beans with bacon vinaigrette

Rolls

No bake pumpkin cheesecake

Turkey Breast  

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • Thaw bird completely before cooking.  Make a paste with fresh herbs and butter then rub the bird with it and put underneath the skin.  Check the label but it usually ends up being about 30 minutes for every pound at 350.
  • It should get to a temperature of 160 to be done.

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes

  • Cook 4 yukon gold potatoes in the crock-pot under high for 6 hours (which saves time) and then mash with skins on.
  • Add 1/4 cup of cream/milk and 1/2 stick of butter and mix until most of the clumps are gone.
  • You can make it with as many potatoes as you like or just one if you want.
  • Season with salt and pepper, to taste

or you could just cook them regular on the stove.

  • Cornbread Stuffing with Maple Sausage and Apricots
  • Cook onion, celery, maple sausage until onions soft, sausage cooked.
  • Add cornbread stuffing cubes and 2-4 cups of chicken broth.
  • Add diced dried apricots and then put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.Gravy
  • Take pan drippings and skim off excessive oil.  Then mix together a little water and flour until smooth.  My Mom even uses the blender for hers but I prefer minimal dishes.  Then you add the flour-water to the drippings and stir until the mixture thickens up.  Then add salt to taste.Cranberry Relish

    Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • In food processor pulsing blade finely ground 1 bag of fresh cranberries, 2 tbsp agave nectar or sugar, a whole orange cut into segments and a cup of nuts (I’ve made it with almonds, walnuts and pecans all good). Add more sweetener to taste.

 Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • Green beans with bacon vinaigrette. Cook bacon into bite sized pieces.  Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan leaving a couple of tablespoons inside.
  • Cook beans in boiling water (I’ve actually found the microwave does this quite well) add red onion, 1 tbsp of sugar to the bacon fat and then ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (you could use any vinegar you like.  I used an apricot balsamic from Sutter Buttes Olive Oil that I got in one of my subscription boxes.  It was great!  Combine beans with sauce and stir.  Top with crunchy bacon.  Yum!No bake pumpkin cheesecakes (recipe adapted by I Wash You Dry)

    Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

  • 1 box gingersnap cookies ground to fine crumbs
  • 3 tbsp butter melted
  • 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener

For the Filling:

  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream (I accidentally bought light cream cheese but it worked fine)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ c marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I added more because I like things on the sweeter side especially for dessert)
  • 1 ½ ts pumpkin pie spice1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream whipped.

For the Crust:

  • Mix together all ingredients press into bottom of molds or spring-form pan.  You can then bake it for 5 minutes to create a more solid crust but I don’t think that is even necessary.
  • For filling mix together cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin, and sugar.   Heat up marshmallows and butter until cooked and bubbling.  Add to rest of wet filling mix.  Beat vigorously.  Add to molds.  Set overnight.  Top with whipped cream.

So those are the recipes I used.  Have fun cooking for one.  It will be a great journey for you!  Good luck and let me know how things go and what strategies work for you. 

Thanksgiving for 1

Ingredients

Turkey Breast
    • 1 Turkey breast with skin
    • Fresh herbs (variety)
Cornbread Stuffing
    • 2, 6oz bags Dried cornbread stuffing cubes
    • 1 cup onion, chopped
    • 1 celery, chopped
    • 1-2 links of maple sausage
    • 1/2 cup dried apricots, diced
    • 2-3 cups Chicken broth
Gravy
    • 2 Tb flour
    • Water
    • Salt, to taste
Green Beans with Bacon Vinaigrette
    • 1 cup Green beans
    • 1 slice of bacon (more if you want extra for salads)
    • 1 Red onion, chopped
    • 1Tb sugar
    • 1/4 cup Balsamic vinegar
Cranberry Relish
    • 1 bag fresh cranberries
    • 2 Tb agave nectar or sugar
    • 1 orange, cut into segments
    • 1 cup nuts (almonds, walnuts or pecans)
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
    • 4 Yukon potatoes
    • 1/4 cup milk or cream
    • 1/2 stick of butter
    • Salt and pepper, to taste
No-Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake via I Wash You Dry
Crust
    • 1 box gingersnap cookies ground to fine crumbs
    • 3 tbsp butter melted
    • 4 tbsp sugar or other sweetener
Filling
  • For the filling:
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1 cup sour cream (I accidently bought light cream cheese but it worked fine)
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1 ½ c marshmallows
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp sugar (I added more because I like things on the sweeter side especially for dessert)
  • 1 ½ ts pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 cups heavy cream whipped.

Instructions

Turkey Breast
    1. Thaw bird completely before cooking.
    2. Make a paste with fresh herbs and butter then rub the bird with it and put underneath the skin. Check the label but it usually ends up being about 30 minutes for every pound at 350
    3. It should get to a temperature of 160 to be done.
Cornbread stuffing
    1. Cook onion, celery and maple sausage until onions soft, sausage cooked.
    2. Add cornbread stuffing cubes and 2-4 cups of chicken broth.
    3. Add diced dried apricots and then put in oven at 350 for 45 minutes.
Gravy
    1. Take pan drippings and skim off excessive oil.
    2. Then mix together a little water and flour until smooth in a separate bowl. My Mom even uses the blender for hers but I prefer minimal dishes. Then you add the flour-water to the drippings and stir until the mixture thickens up. Then add salt to taste.
Green beans with bacon vinaigrette
    1. Cook bacon into bite sized pieces.
    2. Remove most of the bacon fat from the pan leaving a couple of tablespoons inside.
    3. Cook beans in boiling water (I’ve actually found the microwave does this quite well).
    4. Add red onion, 1 tbsp of sugar to the bacon fat and then ¼ cup balsamic vinegar (you could use any vinegar you like.
    5. Combine beans with sauce and stir.
    6. Top with crunchy bacon.
Cranberry Relish
    1. In a food processor, add the cranberries, agave, sugar, nuts and orange.
    2. Pulse until finely ground.
    3. Add more sweetener to taste.
Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes
    1. Cook potatoes in the crock-pot under high for 6 hours (which saves time) and then mash with skins on.
    2. Add 1/4 cup of cream/milk and 1/2 stick of butter and mix until most of the clumps are gone.
    3. You can make it with as many potatoes as you like or just one if you want.
    4. Season with salt and pepper, to taste
No Bake Pumpkin Cheesecake via I Wash You Dry
  1. For crust- mix together all ingredients press into bottom of molds or spring-form pan. You can then bake it for 5 minutes to create a more solid crust but I don’t think that is even necessary.
  2. For filling mix together cream cheese, sour cream, pumpkin, and sugar.
  3. Heat up marshmallows and butter until cooked and bubbling.
  4. Add to rest of wet filling mix. Beat vigorously. Add to molds. Set overnight.
  5. Top with whipped cream.

All of the food made can be up-sized or downsized. If you would like less turkey buy a smaller breast or only 2 potatoes instead of 4. Use half the cranberries and make less relish.

Thanksgiving for 1 (Guest Post by SilingLDS Girl} via LittleFerraroKitchen.com

Cooking, Blogging Photography

So I have had an exhausting but fun day.  Sometimes I think the hardest days are the days doing normal stuff- cooking, cleaning, gardening etc).   My feet always hurt the most.  My body aches.  My back hurts more than in the toughest workouts.  Anyone else feel that way or is it just me in chronic pain village?

Anyway, today was very exciting.  I got to take the day off work and make the food for my piece on my guest blog at my friend Samantha Ferraro’s website http://littleferrarokitchen.com/

I’m really excited to get a chance to show what I can do and the tips I have come up with for cooking for 1 or 2.  Of course, I will go into the food when the post is put out but I’ll give you a taste

dinner

cheesecake pumpkin
Madi and my Mom helped out with a lot of the prep and cleaning. The cheesecakes were yummy
pumpkin cheesecakes
dad photography Dad taking photos of the food. The food was a little cold by the time we ate but it was well worth it.
No bake pumpkin cheesecakes. Turned out delish!

The most enjoyable part of the day for me, besides the food, was learning some things about food photography from my Dad.  He is a gifted photographer and I can’t believe how the photos turned out.  It is going to be an awesome post! cranberry sauce

Anyway, it was a really fun day and I feel excited and satisfied.  Even if a few people read it and like the recipes that’s all that matters.  Plus, it convinced me to buy a nicer camera, something I have thought about for some time.  To better blogging photos!

PS I think it would be fun to take a photography class at SLCC.  Anyone want to do it with me?