Sunday, October 17, 2010

Toffee Bars

Originally uploaded by jenerationx17
One of my favorite desserts--toffee bars.

Now, you aren't actually making toffee; just a bar that tastes like toffee. And it does taste like toffee.

Toffee Bars

1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 egg yolk
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups flour
3-8 Hershey bars

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix butter and brown sugar. Add egg yolk and vanilla. Mix. Add the flour and mix. Dough will be stiff.

Spray a 10x15 inch pan. (You can use a different size pan--obviously, the smaller the pan the thicker the bar; the larger the pan, the thinner the bar). Spread dough--it will be hard to spread. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove from oven and immediately top with chocolate bars. Let sit for a few minutes and then spread the chocolate.


Saturday, October 16, 2010

Foods I Should Like

I could eat massive amounts of mashed potatoes, fresh berries, guacamole and ice cream. My husband is often amazed at the amount of ice cream I can eat. I'm always amazed at the amount of ice cream he doesn't eat.

Of course, there are foods I don't eat. And some I probably should since they are actually healthy for you.

Sweet potatoes. I get that they are so much better for you than potatoes, but seriously, I can't get past the fact that they look like massive amounts of ear wax. Sorry.

Raw tomatoesAs indicated in my last post, I don't do raw tomatoes, unless it's salsa. I know, makes no sense. I know that they are nutritious, but they taste like nothing to me--even the organic, heirloom ones fresh from my own dirt.

Tea. Tastes like extremely watered down coffee. I try, really. I've tried again and again to like it. No dice. I do however like chai, but that's it.

Salmon. I like fish, but salmon? No. Tastes super fishy to me and super fishy fish usually means it is old. Yuck. If a restaurant has fish on the menu, 9 times out of 10, it's salmon. So sad.

What healthy foods do you not like?

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Tomato Sauce

I'm not a huge tomato fan. I like salsa, spaghetti sauce and other cooked tomato types of things, but raw (aside from salsa), not so much. Of course, I'm disappointed whenever my tomatoes don't grow. Go figure.

We did get a few tomatoes from our own Juliet tomato plant, but that was about it. I did however, get boatloads of tomatoes from family and a friend. Yeah!

I made some sauce that I can't wait to use! Lasagna here we come.

Here is the recipe, so you can try it yourself.

Courtesy of Fashionably Foodie.

fresh tomato marinara sauce
an original recipe by rachelle (fashionably foodie)

8 big garden tomatoes, or 10 romas (must be garden fresh. no blando supermart tomatoes! if you must, use a couple big 28 oz cans/quarts of tomatoes.)
1/2 onion, chopped
3 Tablespoons olive oil
1 bay leaf
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar

drop half of the tomatoes into boiling water in a big stockpot and boil for 45 seconds. remove to a big bowl of ice water. repeat with the other half of the tomatoes. peel dump the water out of the stockpot to use for sauce. set aside.

chop the onion. preheat the oil in the stockpot. (sure you could use less oil, but it adds richness and flavor. minimum 2 Tbsp. ok.) drop the onion in the oil and soften for 5 mins over medium heat.

working quickly, peel the skins off of the tomatoes, they should slide right off after you break the skin. cut out cores and cut tomatoes into big 2-3 inch chunks. (they cook so long, they break down. you can cut them in huge quarters.)

drop the tomatoes into the pot with the onions. add in all of the tomatoes, the garlic and the bay leaf. bring to a boil. hard simmer for a half hour.

add basil, oregano, salt, and sugar. adjust seasonings to taste. (it just depends on your tomatoes. sometimes you need more or less salt, more sugar, just taste. but for heavens sakes, blow on the spoon alot before you taste. just a tip i've come by the hard way. six thousand times.)

hard simmer another half hour. liquid should have boiled down and reduced by about half. stir in balsamic vinegar. taste, maybe add another teaspoon balsamic.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Disposable cup coffee makers

You know the ones I'm talking about. Keurig, Tassimo, etc. Thinking of buying one? Think again.

Think about the environmental aspects of using a disposable cup for every pot (or even worse--cup) that you brew! Apparently, I wasn't the only one thinking about it. Check out this article from the New York Times.

Friday, August 27, 2010

My First Canning Adventure

I remember my mom and grandma canning batch after batch of tomatoes. Enough tomatoes to last a lifetime, it seemed. And jams. And who knows what else. I've always wanted to do it, but after being food safety certified and listening to several canning horror stories from educators at UW Extension I was a bit paranoid.

Then, canning became cool. It was everywhere. Target, blogs, newspapers, etc. One of my favorite blogs, by the way, is Food in Jars. Check it out if you have any interest in canning. I got a bit more confident after reading more and more.

I drug my son with me and we picked 3 pints of raspberries at Blue Skies Farm. We had beautiful weather, yummy fruit and a great time. If you are local, visit Blue Skies. They are great and their farm is organic. Awesome!

I decided to turn this


into some jam.

The recipe I use for raspberry peach jam (yum!) came from this blog, Fiber Fool. (Thanks!)

So, I went from the berries (and peaches) to this:


Yeah!! Sorry for the bad pic, but all I had was my phone. Anyway, success! I took the jam out and heard the jars pop right away--sweet sound of success. I let them sit for the recommended 24 hours and then noticed that there was some condensation on the top of the lid inside the jar. What?!? Anyone reading? Do you have any ideas on why that happened? I ended up opening them all and freezing. That was sad, but I think I'll still try again.

A couple of the things I love

I took this week off as sort of a "staycation". Originally, I had planned to get some stuff done around the house. Um, yeah. That went out the window by Tuesday morning. That's OK though--it can wait. My soul feels refreshed in a way it hasn't in a very, very, very long time. (We had some really rough patches in life a few years ago). Ah.

A couple of the things I love, in no particular order.

I honestly, don't think summer needs any explanation. Let me know if you need for me to list the 1,987 reasons why it rocks.

Pandora Radio
At first, I didn't get the hype. At all. I have well rounded musical taste, as I like to call it--including rock, classic rock, country, jazz, hip hop, alternative, folk, grunge, etc. I tried plugging in Dave Matthews Band, Dixie Chicks, Charles Mingus and AC/DC into one station. Yeah, totally confused Pandora. But, but, then I got the hang of it. I now have about 12 stations (and adding) and love it! My newest thing? I discovered quickmix--mixes stuff from all my stations! love!

I'll post more favorites another time. What are you favorites??

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Mini Milk Showdown

I always love reading the blind-taste testing that bloggers/news/etc. do.

My mini milk showdown only consists of two types of milk. Honestly, I really didn't want to spend the money to review non-organic or store brand milk.


Milk #1
Sassy Cow Lowfat Organic Milk
Sassy Cow
is a relatively new creamery. They are local (to me), located in Columbus, WI, and it is a family operation, which I love. I do heart family farms.

Cornucopia Institute rates them a 5 out of 5.

Milk #2
Organic Valley Lowfat Organic Milk
I think most people are familiar with Organic Valley. Headquartered in LaFarge, WI, the coop is the largest organic milk provider in the US. While they are comprised of family farmers (again, I heart family farmers), they are sort of seen as "the big guys".

The milk I sampled is the ultra-pasteurized version. A drawback of this kind (aside from it being ultra-pasteurized) is that you aren't exactly sure where the milk came from. It could be from any of their family farmers throughout the country. That said, you can purchase the pasteurized Heartland Pastures milk, which has not been ultra-pasteurized AND gives you a little bit more knowledge about where it came from. (I would have chose the Heartland Pastures kind, but they were out).

The Cornucopia Institute gives Organic Valley 4 cows out of 5.

So, which did I prefer?


The winner is.... Organic Valley! It tastes just like milk should taste and I love it's creamy flavor. I appreciate that it does not come in plastic (although the gallons do).

The Sassy Cow is still a very good milk--as noted by the 5 cow rating from Cornucopia--but not as creamy. I also think the plastic isn't the best choice, either.

Thanks for reading my mini milk showdown! What milk do you prefer?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Local Is Better

We had an awesome dinner tonight. We stocked up at the farmer's market yesterday, so we were set.

We made steak fajitas with Jordandal Farm's grass-fed steak, Driftless Organics' onions, as well as sweet corn, peppers and chard from the market. Washed it down with a glass of Organic Valley milk and all was good.

I love local food and can't wait until our tomatoes, peppers, zucchini and cucumbers are ready.

If you are interested in eating more local food, join me in the Eat Local Challenge at Willy St. Co-op.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

We had a great time at the Kickapoo Country Fair over the weekend! Great food, great people and a beautiful setting. We got to sample tons of Organic Valley products, which is always fun. I love their milk! I got to sample some Maple Syrup (yeah!) and got a yummy iced maple latte from Kickapoo Coffee. YUM!

I missed Michael Perry since we went on Saturday, but heard he was amazing. Did anyone else go? Tell me about it!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Kickapoo Country Fair

Are you in Wisconsin or another part of the equally beautiful Midwest? Looking for something to do this weekend? Go check out the Kickapoo Country Fair! The Kickapoo Country Fair is held on the grounds of Organic Valley in LaFarge, Wisconsin, in the heart of the Driftless Area. The fair is a sustainable foodie's dream. There are workshops, a bike tour, music--including Miles Nielsen, authors--including one of my very favorites, Michael Perry, kids activities, food sampling, farm tours and more.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Best Pancakes!

Do you have fresh blueberries or raspberries and you are wondering what to do with them? Besides eating them plain, making smoothies, jams, pies, etc.? :)

Do yourself a favor and make these awesome raspberry pancakes. They are amazing! The raspberries taste fresh and sweet. The pancakes? They are light and get crispy around the edges--just the way I like them! Thanks to Driftless Appetite for the recipe!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

If you are a coffee fanatic, do yourself a favor and pick up some Kickapoo Coffee. Amazing. It's organic, fair trade and local, for me anyway.

I highly recommend the Driftless Dark.

And how cool are the containers?

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Margarita Chicken

I've been distracted by the glorious warm weather as of late! Apologies to anyone that might be reading.

Not sure if this is a real recipe, but I thought it sounded good, so I'm going to make margarita chicken. I'm just going to marinate the chicken in margarita mix, lime juice, cilantro and some pepper. Planning on making a pineapple salsa and black bean avocado salad to go with it. Top it off with a New Glarus Beer or a margarita. If it tastes as good as it sounds....yummy!

Monday, April 12, 2010

Granola, yum

One of my favorite things to snack on is granola, specifically Trader Joe's Just the Clusters Vanilla Almond Granola. Have you had it? It's goood!

That said, it isn't the healthiest thing ever, and while not overly expensive, not free, so I figured I could do better.

I found this recipe and decided to give it a try.

On top of greek yogurt

the rest of the batch in my reused Newman's Own spaghetti sauce jar!

Looks pretty good, huh?

Vanilla Scented Granola
* vegetable oil cooking spray
* 4 cups old fashioned oats
* 1 cup sliced almonds
* 1/2 cup golden brown sugar, packed
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
* 1/3 cup vegetable oil
* 1/4 cup honey
* 2 tablespoons sugar
* 4 teaspoons vanilla extract

Position rack to middle of oven and preheat to 300*.

Lightly spray large baking sheet with nonstick spray.

Mix next 5 ingredients in large bowl.

combine oil, honey and sugar in small saucepan; bring to simmer over medium heat.

Remove from heat; stir in vanilla.

Using hands, toss mixture until thoroughly mixed.

Spread granola on prepared baking sheet.

Bake until golden brown, stirring occasionaly, about 30 minutes (but check after 20).

Transfer sheet to rack; cool granola completely.

(Can be made two weeks ahead. Store in airtight container at room temperature.) Makes about 8 cups.

Notes: I halved the recipe, since I wanted to try it before fully committing. Next time, I would use less honey, less oil and more vanilla.


Anybody else a gardener? This will be year 4 of an "official" garden for me. The first year was great. We had spinach, lettuce, tomatoes, basil, beans and some cilantro. The last two years? Not good. The weather was horrible--cold, rainy--and looking back, I should have added more compost. Oh well. This year I'm determined it's going to be a good gardening year. To hold me over, here are a few success pictures from 3 years ago:

Lovely mixed greens


So what is everyone planting in their garden? Any tips to share?

Friday, March 26, 2010

Making me green

Do you ever read blogs and think, wow, what a great idea! I could totally do that. Yes, I say that to myself all the time and it never works as planned. Bloggers are making me green with envy!

I should have learned by now that I like to attempt a lot of things, but it just doesn't work out as planned. I am one of the clumsiest people on earth. Really. Last night I snapped a play guitar strap back together and managed to somehow rip my fingernail and caused the part underneath my nail to bleed. I also managed to somehow take a chunk out of my finger closing some fancy fishing doo-dad that really looks like a pen sized stake. (I really have no idea what it was, I was just killing time while waiting for my husband to checkout).

I need to remind myself that other bloggers are talented and probably not clumsy and accident prone like myself. It will be better for everyone. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

In search of CHEWY brownies

I love chewy brownies. Love. But, they must be CHEWY. Not fudgy, not cakey. Chewy. Who knew chewy brownies were so hard to make?

My standby is good 'ol Betty Crocker Brownies

Now, I'm not saying they are the best brownies ever, but, they have the texture I love.

I think I'm on recipe number 82 in search of chewy brownies. I'm beginning to think it's a lost cause. My latest attempt was a recipe from Cooks Illustrated that assured me they figured it all out and mastered the chewy from scratch brownie. I have to say, they've let me down. It was a good try, but again, not chewy.

So, it's back to Betty Crocker for me. If you have a CHEWY brownie recipe, let me know. I'm sure I'll attempt it if I haven't already.

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Red Velvet Cake

I'm going to make red velvet cake, or possibly red velvet cupcakes. Love red velvet cake. love. Anyone else?

Saturday, February 6, 2010

If you like Goldfish or Red Gold tomatoes..

If you are in Northern IL or Southern WI and you like Goldfish crackers, I've got a deal for you. :) Right now, Piggly Wiggly has Goldfish crackers, buy one, get one free. They are priced at $2.19, so they end up being 1.09 (and a half) each. AND, if you go to the Peppridge Farm website, they have a .75 coupon for original, pretzel or flavor blasted pizza flavored Goldfish. If your Piggly Wiggly accepts internet printable coupons, you can get two bags for .34 a piece!

Also, they have Red Gold diced tomatoes 4 for $2. Combine that with the $1 off 3 cans coupon and get 4 cans for a buck!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Moomie's buns

I had already planned to have hamburgers for dinner tonight, but didn't have any buns. I figured it was as good of a time as any to finally make Moomie's Buns which have been raved about on the Cooking Light message boards, as well as around the internet.

They are delicious! I had to sample them, of course.

Here is the recipe for you

Moomie's Buns
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 egg
3 1/4 cups flour
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon instant yeast

Place all ingredients in your bread machine. Select dough. Allow to run cycle.

Dump out onto lightly floured surface. Divide into 8 pieces. With each piece, slap into a bun shape. Usually four or five slaps will do it. Place on greased cookie sheets or your bun pans, cover; rise about 30 to 40 minutes.

Bake in preheated 375 degree oven for 12 to 15 minutes till golden. Cool on wire racks.

Notes: I cut the sugar down to 2 Tablespoons.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Cinnamon rolls....part drool

Cinnamon rolls. Picture Homer Simpson drooling--that's how I feel right about now.

I've always had issues making cinnamon rolls. Why? I'm not sure, but they never turned out right. I've used frozen bread dough, I've made them by hand, made them in the bread machine and yet, they never turn out right. Finally, I can say I made them and they were good! Yipee!

The lovely rolls after pulling them out of the oven. Makes you want to drool, huh?

Frosting added. Mmm, frosting.

Mine. All mine. Notice the dripping cinnamon filling.

After a few bites.

You are probably dying for this recipe that made me sucessful at making cinnamon rolls, so without further ado....

Bread Machine Cinnamon Rolls
recipe courtesy of Money Saving Mom
Thanks Money Saving Mom!!

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons warm milk
3 tablespoons canola oil
1 egg, lightly beaten plus 2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
4 cups flour (Add a bit more if dough seems too wet after first few minutes of kneading in the bread machine.)
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons bread machine yeast

Filling (I doubled this since we like our filling, oh yes we do!):
2 tablespoons butter
2/3 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 tablespoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon milk
1 1/2 cups confectioners sugar
4 tablespoons (or less) butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla

Put the dough ingredients in the bread machine in the order listed and run on the dough cycle. After the dough cycle is finished, roll the dough into a large rectangle and spread it with 2 Tablespoons melted butter and 2/3 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 Tablespoon cinnamon.

Roll up and cut into 10-15 rolls and place in two greased round cake pans. Bake at 325 degrees for 20 minutes or until browned. Spread the icing on as soon as they come out of the oven.

You can also cover the unbaked rolls with plastic wrap, stick them in the refrigerator overnight, and then bake in the morning.

Be sure to check out Money Saving Mom's blog for GREAT deals, freebies and more!

So what items do you have issues with cooking or baking? Do tell so I don't feel so bad!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Foodie Blogroll Giveaways

Are you on the lookout for giveaways? My blog has been added to the Foodie Blogroll--horray! So, check out the Foodie Blogroll widget on the right side of the page and be sure to enter some of the giveaways!

Monday, January 25, 2010

On to the pizza

As I said, the pizza was tast-y. All I have is this sad looking picture of 2 leftover pieces.

I made a sauceless pizza--just added a bit of olive oil to the crust and topped with a mix of Italian cheeses and some regular old mozzarella. Added some garlic from the Dane County Farmers Market, red onions and yellow, orange and green peppers. Yum.

The crust was easy and good. Thin, crispy and a bit of a chewy texture. Perfect.

Here is the crust recipe, courtesy of Lino's Restaurant:

4 ½ Cups All Purpose Flour
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Dry Yeast
7oz Water
7oz 2% Milk

Combine flour, salt and yeast in a mixing bowl. Combine milk and water in a measuring cup. Heat water and milk mixture until it is 100 deg. F. Mix all ingredients together. Use a mixer if possible. It will make the job easier. Cover with a towel and let rise at room temperature for two hours. Roll and cut dough to start your pizza.

Notes: I cut the recipe in half and used Skim instead of 2% milk.

Recipe Results

The pizza was sooo good. Soo good. I wanted to bathe in it. OK, so maybe not quite.

But, first-- the granola bars I made. I used the recipe from Make and Takes, whose picture looks oh so good!

Here is the recipe from Make and Takes:
Chewy Granola Bars Recipe:

* 2 1/2 c. Oats – quick rolled oats
* 1/2 c. Rice Krispies
* 1/4 c. coconut
* 1/2 c. M&M minis
* 1/2 c. brown sugar
* 1/2 tsp. salt
* 1/2 c. butter, softened
* 1/4 c. honey
* 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Add all of the ingredients and mix together until combined. Press into a square 8×8 pan. Bake at 350° for 18-20 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes and score into bars. Let it set completely and then cut into bars. For thinner bars, press mix into a 9×13 pan. They seem to set a little better in the 9×13 pan.

My changes: Left out the coconut (didn't have any), subbed mini chocolate chips for the M&M's (again, didn't have any) and used peanut butter in place of the honey (yes, you guessed it, out again). They were tasty, but I think I did something wrong. Mine didn't stay together as well as I would have hoped. I think I might have gotten the butter a tad too soft. That said, they are good. I'm already thinking about a different version--fruit and nuts--for next time! Thanks Make and Takes!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Long time gone

Trying to get back into the groove after an unintentional blogging break.

I'm spending this very dreary Sunday trying to add some life into January! Cleaning, organizing and baking. One room down, so far. :)

Mixed up a batch of pizza dough--a new recipe. It's from my very favorite restaurant. We'll see if it resembles the real thing. I'm also going to make a batch of granola bars.

Have you read the ingredients in granola bars? Just a few of the ingredients in Quaker's 25% Less Sugar Chocolate Chip Granola Bars:
Partially Hydrogenated Soybean and Cottonseed Oils (Adds a Dietary Insignificant Amount of Trans Fat) with TBHQ and Citric Acid Added to Preserve Freshness. For real? Nasty. The same thing, TBHQ, is used in varnishes and lacquers. Good times.