Easter Dinner Plus

I tend to over-cook on holidays. Growing up, our holidays were so focused on food that I feel like my children will be missing something if I don’t have a feast for them every holiday. So, Easter.

Brunch Menu:
Deviled eggs
bacon
sausage links
poppy-seed muffins
fruit and juice

Dinner Menu:
Roast Pork
mashed potatoes
carrots
potato salad
spinach salad
green beans
lemon meringue pie

This is what I planned for my family. Me, husband, two girls. Four people.  I was the only one to eat the roast on Sunday. Apparently, I should have assumed that my children would prefer left-over chili-mac to a roast dinner. The dreams of sitting down to a well laid table with flowers and candles and children in their frilly Easter dresses was dashed. The reality being children gobbling up chili-mac surrounded by pastel colored tin foil candy wrappers. And my husband sitting in his chair in the living room, eating only potato salad and sausages. That seems to be the way holidays go in our house. If I really cared I would force my family to change, but if they are happy, I’ll leave it alone.

I might have got a bit carried away, but, BUT I learned something! I put two small roasts in the crock pot and I have three different meals. After I had my roast dinner, I put the left over meat in Ziploc bag and stuck it in the fridge. The next day I took out the bag and kneaded the meat until it was shredded. I love to use a mixer to shred chicken when it is hot, but this was even easier. You just need more time. So, after I smooshed the meat around the bag I took out half and warmed it up with BBQ sauce (recipe below) and served pulled pork sandwiches. The other half I warmed up with salsa verde (Herdez brand) and made pork tacos. And tonight my family can decide if they want BBQ or tacos. I love left overs.

I did make a change to my menu; I made a chocolate chess pie instead of the lemon meringue. I wanted something a little easier, with fewer steps. Here are a couple of recipes so people like me might actually read this post.

 

Sonny’s BBQ Sauce
Ingredients:
1 ½ cups brown sugar
1 1/2 cups ketchup
1/2 cup red wine vinegar (scant)
1/3 cup water
2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons dry mustard
2 teaspoons paprika
2 teaspoons salt
1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper
½ teaspoon cumin
½ teaspoon chili powder
½ teaspoon garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper or less for the kids
Several dashes liquid smoke

Whisk it all together and heat on the stove if you want.

Chocolate Chess Pie

½ cup margarine
1 ½ cups sugar
¼ cup cocoa
3 eggs
1 tsp. cornmeal
1 tsp cornstarch
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. vinegar
Unbaked 9” pie shell

Cream margarine and sugar. Add remaining ingredients, mix well. Turn into pie shell and bake at 325º for about 45 minutes or until firm. Let cool before serving. If it is still warm at serving time add a scoop of vanilla ice cream. This pie is also yummy the next day just out of the fridge. It is chocolate pie, it’s just good.

 

When I came up with the BBQ sauce recipe Sonny’s wasn’t selling their sauce except at their restaurants. When we lived in Florida we went to Sonny’s quite often and we always had sauce packets in the fridge. BBQ isn’t so popular in Idaho. We have a couple of places that we like to go, but (even though it’s a chain) I miss Sonny’s. Now I see that you can buy their sauce on Amazon, but I like the recipe I use. I really don’t feel compelled to spend $17 on BBQ sauce. If you have never been to a Sonny’s, the sauce is sweet, a little tangy and a little spicy, but mostly sweet. I like it that way. We once went to BBQ in Alabama and there was no sugar in their sauce; tomato base with mustard, vinegar and no sugar. No thank you. Yes, I am from the Northwest and no, I don’t know anything about barbecue, but I know what I like. (And that wasn’t it!)

The chocolate chess pie recipe is from my mom. You can leave out the cocoa and have a plain chess pie, which I love covered in fresh blackberry or raspberry syrup. THE taste of summer! Better make a note of that and make some chess pie and berry syrup in a few months. I love summer.

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Christmastime is here again…Let’s EAT

When I was growing up Christmas was about family, church and food. I have so many magical memories. I wish I could just do a little flash back with you! I grew up in Southern Oregon, so we never had snow for Christmas. I know no one knows what the weather is like in Southern Oregon because most people haven’t heard of Oregon apart from Portland, but it is wet and cold and foggy in the winter. We had black ice a lot, freezing fog, drizzly, misty, green and gray Christmases. But inside our tiny little house with dark brown multi-level loop carpet, there was a fire in the stove and candles on every horizontal surface. We always had a fluffy, fresh, fragrant tree, covered with ornaments made from Styrofoam and covered in glitter or tiny hand prints cut out of old Christmas cards. We had fat glass lights that had to be screwed into the sockets. And two special lights; one that was shaped like a snowman and one shaped like a house covered in snow. Topping the tree was an angel with blond feathered hair and dressed in a miniature Princess Diana wedding dress. She was glorious.

My mother started making treats before Thanksgiving and didn’t stop until New Years. She made fudge, Rocky Road, English toffee, divinity, peanut brittle, peppermint bark, Buckeyes, coconut candy balls and sometimes caramel. Plus there were cookies; Spritz, filbert crescents, butterscotch rolled cookies or sugar cookie cutouts. We always brought plates of goodies with us to visit relatives, even though they always had plates of goodies out on the coffee table for visitors.

Christmas Eve my grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and various other slightly related family members would bundle ourselves into several cars and slide our way through the fog to church. The sanctuary was always full with family from out-of-town, kids home from college and people who only ever came to church on Christmas and Easter. I remember  being so impatient for the end of the service. Every year I held on to that candle with the paper ring around the bottom just waiting for the lights to go out. I never got to hold the candle once it was lit though. All the children would come forward and sing Silent Night with the pastor. If I close my eyes I can see all those points of light in the dark church. Then we would slide our way back to our tiny house filled with family. Mama would set out platters of goodies and platters from other family members would cover the dining room table. Hot coffee and hot cider would be served. I’m getting a tummy ache just thinking about it. How wonderful it was.

Well, I don’t make near as many treats as my mom did, but I still make a few. This year we are having fudge, (I just finished the second batch) macaroons (if we want some for Christmas I’ll have to make another batch of those too) and candy balls. Well, on to recipes!

Five Minute Fudge

2/3 cup coconut milk creamer, original barista style
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 2/3 cup sugar

Stir together in large sauce pan over low heat. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and add:

1 1/2 cup miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 cup chocolate chips
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Stir until marshmallows are melted. Pour into a 9×9 pan and chill. Store in airtight container at room temperature.

 

Coconut Macaroons

1 1/3 cup fine shredded coconut, unsweetened
2 Tablespoons all-purpose flour*
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

Preheat oven to 325*. Stir all ingredients together. Drop by teaspoonful onto greased and floured or parchment covered baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. Remove from baking sheet immediately.

*I have used coconut flour to make these GF, totally works.

Can I Give Up SWEETS? Um, no.

The thinnest I have been as an adult was during my vegan experiment. However, my hair was also falling out, so perhaps I wasn’t doing it quite right. Last night I was thinking that I should make another vegan effort. The thing is, I don’t think that meat is a problem for me. I don’t have the passion for saving animals. That sounds heartless, but I like to eat meat. I know where it comes from. I ate vegan just for health reasons. Pretty sure skinless chicken breasts aren’t making me fat. Yes, I gave up meat and all animal edibles, but I also gave up sweets and alcohol.

So here I am again, facing my problem, my addiction, my passion: sugar. As I am writing this I have two tabs waiting for me to click them. The Minimalist Baker is calling me! Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies! AND Easy Raw Vegan Brownies! I want to make them so much and they are vegan! Doesn’t that count for something? Am I over-thinking this whole eating thing? No, I don’t think I am.

Not over-thinking, but thinking the wrong way. I have a problem with eating sweets until they are gone. I can’t make a pan of brownies and eat one. I am greedy. Ooh, that is an ugly word! It’s true though, I don’t want to share my sweets. I want the first cookie out of the oven and I want the last one too. So, what do I do?

Either, 1. give up all sweets (will work for a time, but not a permanent solution), 2. make healthier sweets (better, as long as I don’t eat the whole recipe, negating the healthy part) 3. make small batch recipes (again, I still have to pay attention. I got into trouble with “single serving” desserts. I ate a mug cake that was almost 700 calories. That is still less than Cheesecake Factory cheesecake, but as I will never eat that cheesecake…um…did I have a point?) 4. give sweets away (I can’t eat the sweets if they are not in my house). (My apologies to any grammarians reading this post.) New Plan! I will implement all of these ideas.

I need to have sweet-free days. A dessert break, that sounds too good. A break from desserts. I know people who don’t eat sweets after every meal, they do exist. Every one has different temptations. I can walk past a slot machine and feel nothing. I cannot walk past a pan of brownies and feel nothing. Even though I know that I can never eat cheesecake, I still like to visit the cheesecakes at the Cheesecake Factory. They look so good in that case. I like to read the descriptions of them in the menu. Focus! How did I get hung up on the Cheesecake Factory? Stop saying cheesecake! Deep breath, drink of water. OK, moving on.

I can make small batch, healthy dessert recipes and give them away. Good idea. Let’s start with pumpkin sugar cookies! To make them a little more healthy, I halved the fat and added more pumpkin. One of my favorite muffin recipes Irresistible Double Chocolate Muffins, doesn’t have any added fat and uses pumpkin instead. I also used more whole wheat flour. Pretty sure I could use all WW pastry flour, but my kids might not eat them. Next objective: smaller batch, well 20 is a pretty small batch for cookies. Plus I am making these on Monday so that I can take most of them to Bible study Tuesday morning! I think that sounds pretty good.

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I decided to use a cookie scoop and not get my hands all gooey.

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A flat bottomed bowl works the best for the cinnamon and sugar.

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I  always use parchment paper for easy clean-up.

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A picture of my hand. I always wanted to be a model.

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These would look so much better if I had any talent for photography or a camera. Both would probably be good.     On to the recipe!

Vegan Pumpkin Snickerdoodles

 

Makes: 20 cookies

Adapted from Minimalist Baker Vegan Pumpkin Sugar Cookies

 

  • 1/4 cup vegan butter or solid coconut oil
  • 1/2 cup pumpkin puree (I like Farmer’s Market Organic Pumpkin)
  • 1/2 cup organic cane sugar
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 Tbsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder (for thickening/binding)
  • 1 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 3/4 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour

 

  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

 

Instructions

  1. Add butter or coconut oil, pumpkin and sugars to a large mixing bowl and cream with a mixer for 1 minute.
  2. Mix in vanilla.
  3. Add corn starch, baking powder, baking soda, salt, pumpkin pie spice and 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon, mix to combine.
  4. Add flours. Mix until incorporated, being careful not to over mix.
  5. Freeze dough for 15 minutes, or refrigerate for 30 minutes (or chill overnight), preheat your oven to 350 degrees F, and position a rack in the center of the oven.
  6. Mix 2 tablespoons of sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl. Scoop out heaping 1 Tbsp amounts of dough and roll into balls (it will be sticky) or use a cookie scoop. Swirl dough in cinnamon sugar to coat and place on a baking sheet 2 inches apart to allow for spreading.
  7. Bake on the center rack for 10-14 minutes, depending on how you like your cookies.
  8. Let rest on pan for a few minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack to cool completely.

These stay puffy and are a bit cakey. I’ve only eaten two three, you know for research.

 

 

 

 

“Clean Cooking”

I don’t mean healthy or anything, but the opposite of “messy cooking”; the way I usually cook. I think I am a great cook. My family had to suffer through some interesting dinners when I was in high school, but by the time I was on my own, I could make just about anything with a recipe and I had some killer go to recipes. Good or bad, down-home or gourmet, my cooking style is messy. I use every pot/pan, knife, utensil, cutting board, anything I can get my hands on. Now that our home is for sale, I need to adjust my cooking style. Yesterday I went through the Chick-fil-A dive-thru three times. My kitchen stayed clean, but I don’t think that fast-food is a solution to any problem. Unless you are too skinny and have too much money. So…Today I made a pot-roast. Definitely not fancy, but I pretty much used one knife, one cutting board and my crock pot. The only problem was the smell of onion cooking all day. If you are showing your house, onions are not the first smell you want hitting people when they walk through the door. Luckily I have been wasting time on Pinterest looking for bar cookies. Why do cookies have to be messy and time-consuming? These bars have all the sweet cinnamon-y goodness of Snickerdoodles, but they are so much easier. Snickerdoodle is a good smell for prospective buyers. And while the pan was in the oven I washed the mixing bowl and measuring cups/spoons. After the bars cooled I cut them all and put them in an airtight container and then I washed the pan! I had cookies AND a clean kitchen. Amazing.

snickerdoodle bars

Chewy Snickerdoodle Bars
Adapted from The Domesticated Redhead, adapted from Frugal Antics

Ingredients:
1 cup shortening
1½ cups sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk yogurt
2 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cream of tartar
1 tsp baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 tsp vanilla
⅓ cup sugar
1 Tbsp cinnamon

Instructions
  1. Cream shortening and sugar.
  2. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down the bowl between eggs.
  3. Mix in yogurt.
  4. Combine flour, baking soda, cream of tartar, baking powder and salt.
  5. Mix into shortening/sugar mixture.
  6. In a separate, small bowl, combine ⅓ cup sugar and cinnamon.
  7. Sprinkle half the cinnamon sugar mix into a 9X13 pan.
  8. Spread batter on top.
  9. Top with remaining sugar mixture.
  10. Bake 350 degrees for 25-30 minutes.
  11. You don’t want this too much like cake, so opt for less time if you need.

I didn’t think it looked like enough batter for a 9×13 pan, but it raised beautifully. I don’t know why I need to confess this, but I ate three bars last night after dinner. They tasted so good I couldn’t stop. And then I felt sick. Perhaps today I will only eat one at a time. Shouldn’t I have learned that lesson?