Happy February! It has been soooo busy in our house these past few weeks, that I literally had no time to blog. I have been cooking a lot though, and actually managed to attempt four new recipes a midst the chaos. The first recipe I tried was for a veggie friendly puttanesca sauce. I actually purchased a jar of puttanesca sauce at Trader Joe’s a few weeks back, and obviously blanked on the part of the jar that listed anchovies as an ingredient. When we got home and I reread the label, I saw it. Of course, I dropped an “f bomb,” and cursed myself for having purchased a food item that my family could not eat. That said, my mistake did inspire me to make the sauce from scratch. The only recipes I have ever seen for puttanesca sauce contain anchovies or anchovy paste. As vegetarians, we do not eat anchovies, so I decided to omit them from the recipe. Additionally, the sauce calls for capers and kalamata olives. I do have capers, but I didn’t have the olives as I think I am the only person in my house that eats olives. Since I didn’t have any, I decided to omit those too. Well, minus the couple of classic ingredients, I am happy to report that the sauce came out delicious! It is tangy and rich and so so yummy. Dan and Victoria loved it. Ryan, of course, wouldn’t try it, but he did eat the pasta.☺ Here is a link that is similar the recipe that I used: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/puttanesca-i/
The next two recipes I experimented with were both for blueberry waffles. We go through a ton of Eggo waffles in our house. Ryan and Dan LOVE the cinnamon toast, and the Nutri Grain blueberry waffles. I truthfully don’t eat waffles, but I decided to try and make them in the attempt to save a little cash, and to improve the healthiness of the waffles that my family loves so much. Well, I am not certain that I increased the healthiness all that much. Let me rephrase. I didn’t improve the healthiness in the way that I intended. For example, I thought if I made the waffles at home, I could cut the fat and the sugar content. Well in all honesty, I am not sure I accomplished that. What I did accomplish however, was increasing fiber, and the cleanliness of the ingredients that I used. I used whole wheat white flour, so I automatically increased the fiber. Also, I used organic ingredients wherever possible, so that improved the healthy factor as well. As far as cutting the fat, I think I broke even. The first recipe I used was a “copy cat” recipe for Eggo waffles that I found on the internet. I followed the instructions exactly (minus the food coloring), but my waffles didn’t taste anything like an Eggo waffle. That said, they were good. Here is the link to that recipe: http://www.topsecretrecipes.com/Kelloggs-Eggo-Waffles-Recipe.html
The second recipe was even better. Dan and the kids LOVED the second recipe. I actually liked it too. I didn’t even use butter or syrup on my waffles, because I though they were pretty darn tasty all by themselves. In the second batch, I added a little extra yumminess to the batter. I bought some organic reduced sugar blueberry preserves from Trader Joe’s and stirred it into the batter to increase the blueberry flavor. Man was it worth it! These waffles were really good. Dan said they were restaurant quality good. Since I don’t ever order waffles at a restaurant I will take his word for it. They didn’t last too long so I had to make another batch to keep in the freezer. I wish I could report that since finding these recipes I could quit buying frozen waffles all together. No such luck. Ryan still prefers the store-bought, Eggo Nutri Grain Blueberry waffles, to my organic, made with extra love, homemade blueberry waffles. I think I understand his objection though. He likes thinner waffles that aren’t too fluffy. Also, he likes me to really toast them up…so that they are almost burned. My blueberry waffles are fluffy, and no matter how little batter I poured into the waffle iron, they fluffed up. They are also not crispy at all. I did attempt to crisp them up in the toaster oven for him, but he still prefers Eggo. Oh well…I tried. Here is the link to the second recipe: http://southernfood.about.com/od/pancakesandwaffles/r/bl30109k.htm
The last recipe was for lemon pound cake. I have never made a pound cake before so I was eager to try it. I actually made this recipe less out of want, and more out of an attempt to be resourceful. Last week, I made a few batches of amaretti cookies. They are delicious and a “fan favorite” among my cookie recipients. The recipe for amaretti cookies only calls for egg whites, so I had all the yolks left over. I hate to waste food, so I saved them. Once I had accumulated 8 yolks, I decided to do a search for recipes that would utilize the left over yolks. I came across a website that had a list of recipes to choose from. I chose the lemon pound cake recipe and doubled it. I intentionally doubled it so I could share the yummy pound cake with the office staff at Ryan’s school. Since right before Christmas, I have been making treats for them on a regular basis. They are always so appreciative, and it makes me feel good to spoil them a bit. So I actually chose this recipe with them in mind. I am happy to report that my maiden voyage with pound cake was a success. It is delicious. I mean with 12 tablespoons of butter it has to be good right? Right! I usually attempt to “health up” the recipes that I make, but this one I left as is. I mean who ever heard of a healthy pound cake?? Anyway, I informed all my recipients yesterday as I delivered the cake, and they didn’t care in the least. Unfortunately, I haven’t gotten any feedback yet as today was a snow day (YIPPEE), but I am sure next week they will give me their critique. Despite it’s deliciousness, I am uncertain that I would make this cake again, unless I was trying to get rid of a bunch of egg yolks. I mean 12 tablespoons of butter, and 8 egg yolks isn’t exactly waist friendly or heart healthy. That said, the recipe did make three separate pound cakes, and I gave all but a few pieces away, so it’s all good. Here is the link to the site where I found the recipe: http://www.fortysomething.ca/2010/04/recipes_to_use_up_extra_egg_yo.php For the exact recipe I used, look under the “Four Egg Yolk” list and select the “Lemon Pound Cake (Italian Desserts)” The cake is pretty delicious all on its own, but I did glaze it to enhance the lemony flavor. I just mixed powdered sugar, water, and lemon extract to my desired flavor and consistency, then I glazed all three cakes.
I mentioned above that I’d probably get a critique next week. I love love love when people give me feedback on the eats and treats that I’ve made for them. I love to feed people, and I especially love to feed people food that makes them happy. These are a few of the critiques that I received last week when I dropped off some treats:
- Oh my God, those cookies are unbelievable!
- Holy cow those are the best!
- May I please please please have the recipe?
- Can I please move in with you? I’ll even sleep in the garage.
- (From the Principal’s Administrative Assistant to Ryan) how big is your room?
- This one really needs a visual but imagine a grown woman sitting at her desk with her eyes closed, she is smiling, she is swaying ever so slightly, and she is eating one of my cookies. ☺
- You are so sweet…you somehow know the perfect time to bring treats in…I really needed this today
- I was so stressed and the fact that you dropped off cookies three times over the last week probably saved a few jobs here
- Chris… those cookies….I mean… it was like biting into a piece of heaven
I think the comment about tasting heaven is my favorite. That comment actually got me to thinking about heaven. If heaven really exists, what is it like? I saw a movie awhile back titled “Defending Your Life.” It is a great movie. The premise is that after we die, we go to a place called “judgement city”, where almost like a trial, we have to defend our choices in life. Based on the results of your “trial” you either get a ticket uptown, or you get sent back to Earth to try again. Anyway whilst in “judgement city,” you can eat whatever you want, the food tastes amazing, and you never gain weight! Well if that is actually true, I don’t know that I ever need to leave “judgement city.” Maybe I can just hang out there for eternity. ☺ If you ever get a chance to see the movie, you should watch it…I really enjoyed it.
Anyway, since I was thinking about heaven, I’ve made a few decisions. I’ve decided that in my version of heaven it smells of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. My fellow Spartans will totally be able to relate to this, but my version of heaven smells like “Melting Moments” on Grand River! For those of you not fortunate enough to ever visit “Spartan country” and experience this first hand, “Melting Moments” is an ice cream shop. They obviously serve ice cream, but my favorite treat when I was a student at MSU, was their ice cream sandwiches made with chocolate chip cookies. DIVINE! I only ate there a handful of times, but I stopped outside the store quite frequently just to inhale. Man did it smell good. Actually, once you got within about 10 feet of the store you could smell that heavenly aroma. I am not sure if it was the cookies, or the ice cream cones they made there, but in my version of heaven, it smells like “Melting Moments.” In addition to smelling wonderful, in my version of heaven, you can eat all the yummy food you want, and never ever gain weight. In my version of heaven, you will be reunited with all your loved ones that have passed…pets included. In my version of heaven, there is no pain, no sickness, no more goodbyes, no worries, no fear, no financial issues…none of those earthly issues to muddy the waters. In my version of heaven, you are a guest at the greatest party you can imagine, and you never ever have to leave because everyone you love is right there with you. You can sit and chit chat as long as you want. You can reminisce for days. You can dance all night if you want, because there is no work or school tomorrow to worry about. No deadline to be met. No grade to be earned. No expiration date on happiness. There is no alarm clock to interrupt the most blissful sleep you’ve ever experienced. In my version of heaven there is only love, only peace, only light, only happiness…and of course an endless supply of chocolate chips cookies. ♥