Archive for the ‘the ones about cooking’ Category

If you find yourself in a Thanksgiving bind, Ava has a time-saving turkey recipe for you.

Thanksgiving Day Turkey

by Ava:

  1. Get it from a turkey store.
  2. Stir it on a pot on the stove for 7 minutes.
  3. Then in the oven for 8 minutes.
  4. Take it out and sprinkle spices and little pepperonis on it.
  5. Put it on the table and eat it!

There you go, spicy turkey in 15 minutes.

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I love to cook. I don’t love to knock over every jar in my cupboard to shake out a little rosemary and thyme. And I am slight of stature, which make it difficult to see in the back spaces of upper cabinets.

For years, I tried different spice organization tips. I tried the stair-step tray. I tried the spinning wheel.  These both required either a step stool or arm extenders. Then a neighbor recommended stashing the spices in a drawer and taking a sharpie to their lids. That work fine until we moved to a home with too few drawers.

Two Decembers ago, I was peeling a Christmas clementine while staring at it’s crate. I don’t know what it is about those little wooden boxes, but I love them. I always want to find some good purpose for them.

Before I had finished spitting out all the seeds, I was loading cumin and coriander into the crate.

Now instead of trying to reach the unseen spices, the spice rack comes to me.

The spices are arranged alphabetically. So even if the name’s not written on the lid, they are easy to find.

Works for me!

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Today is Works-For-Me-Wednesday in reverse, which translates into Works-For-YOU-Wednesday.

Menu planning. How do you do it? Seriously, I want to know.

This is a project that I have been wanting to tackle for weeks, but I’m not sure which way to go about it. I have seasons of menu planning, but I’ve never found a method that I can stick to.

I love cooking. I even enjoy grocery shopping. Remember I have one child, and she also enjoys grocery shopping. However, I do not like planning out what we are going to eat days in advance. I have enough trouble coming up with a plan for that evening.

Far to often 4:00 rolls around and I realize that in one hour HungryMan is going to walk through the front door and I haven’t a clue as to what I’m going to feed him before he faints from hunger. At 4:15, I’ve settled on a meal, but realize that I’m missing two or three ingredients. I scoop up Ava and her three purses and dash out the door. We race in and out of the grocery store, and arrive panting at my front door thirty minutes later. I carry up the groceries praying with each step that HungryMan will be delayed in traffic so that I can finish this meal before he arrives. And somehow more nights than not, dinner is ten minutes away from the table when his car pulls up.

While my frenzied method succeeds in feeding my family. Daily grocery shopping and hectic cooking doesn’t appear to be the most effective or efficient way to go about things. That’s where you come in.

How do you do it?

When do you plan your meals? How far out to do you plan them? Do you have a rotating menu or do you come up with new menus each week? Do you shop by sales and seasons? Do you keep a pantry stocked with standard fare and come up the meals on the fly?

Please share you secrets! I have three hours before HungryMan arrives famished and dizzy. And no one wants HungryMan to faint. Believe me, he has a long way to fall.

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Have you ever crunched your teeth on a unwanted pit while enjoying a piece of a cherry pie? Or worse, have you ever tried to remove a pit from a cherry with only a knife and your fingers.

Your fingers look bloodied without so much as a scratch and the cherry looks like it’s been massacred. It’s neither aesthetically pleasing nor appetizing.

Enter the cherry pitter.

Slide a cherry in. Squeeze the handles together and presto: one edible cherry, two clean hands and one disposable pit.

It’s so simple, my four-year-old can do it.

Again and again and again.

What doesn’t work for me is having my camera switched from automatic focus to manual focus.

Again, so simple a four-year-old can do it.

(Edited to add: I bought my cherry pitter at Crate & Barrel. It’s very simple and works great. The OXO one pictured has great reviews and is available through Amazon).

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If you thought I was kidding about making a cherry pie, then you must be new here.

Our Depression Era status coincided perfectly with my mother-in-law’s birthday. Wait, no, that came out wrong. It wasn’t supposed to be a jab at my mother-in-law’s age. I was trying to say that Penny loves cherry pie, so it was actually a perfect day to make cherry pie. Phew. That was close.

And plus, my mother-in-law is hip. Literally she rocks, check it out:

She brings out the rock in all of us. Generally, I’m pretty quiet and reserved. But Penny, she gets your groove on.

Unless your Hungryman, then your groove is always on.

Hey Rock Star, the screen is the other direction!

So, what was I talking about before Rock Band hijacked my story much like it is hijacked my living room?

You try blogging to “Buddy Holly,” it’s rather distracting. And it has nothing to do with cherry pies or baking or birthdays or anything important really, but it does have one giddy man hitting sticks to its beat. Which is again, distracting.

You know what also is distracting? Forgetting to switch your camera from manual focus to automatic focus.

It kind of casts a whole blurry mist over my Auntie Em impersonation. I suppose it is in keeping with the whole old-timey theme of no cell phone, no land line, bright aprons and fresh cherry pie. Seriously if I don’t have a cell phone I clearly shouldn’t have a camera that automatically focuses.

What I did have was bowl full of cherries. Cherries with pits and stems.

Luckily I store a cherry pitter in my drawer for occasions such as this.

A Cherry pitter that can be fully operated by a four-year-old or who-ever-else you have on hand. Ava preferred to pull the stems off by her teeth. That mouth is always looking for chewing employment.

These sweet cherries are about to get sweeter. Hello Cherries, meet Sugar.

Okay, that would have been a very sweet shot had it been focussed. Blasted AF/MF button.

I know the preview screen on digital cameras is designed to prevent these sort of results, but I was too busy keeping small fingers from snatching up all the cherries to be monitoring pictures. And my Canon Rebel has always been so loyal and true, how was I supposed to know it would desert me the same day as the phones?

As you can see from Ava’s cheeks, I wasn’t able to keep those little fingers out of the dough. Their quick and nimble. In fact, I’m fairly certain their responsible for these less than crisp pictures.

Eventually HungryMan appeared on the scene bringing things a bit more into focus.

I do believe that his arrival coincided perfectly with the unrolling of the dough. It seems to me that some of the ends of those strips were prematurely snipped.

After an unexpected costume change and impromptu switch from sugar to glitter sprinkles, the pie was ready for the fire.

Because nothing says, “Happy Birthday” better than a bashful birthday princess holding a rainbow sprinkled cherry pie.

Except maybe a mouthful of the hot sweet cherries bursting in warm buttery crust.

Happy Birthday Grandma Penny, you’re every bit as sweet as a slice of cherry pie!

If you are wanting to play a 1930’s housewife, you will find the Fresh Cherry Pie recipe at Cooking Light. Ava and I followed the recipe to a “T,” except for the addition of colored sugar sprinkles. Or, better yet, come over and try some. There’s still a few slices left in the icebox.

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On Wednesday I spied a bounty of bright fuchsia at SuperTarget. And since my mind was still simmering in a world of soup, I was reminded of this delectable strawberry soup that I had enjoyed at a tea house last summer. I immediately thought that a sweet strawberry soup would be the perfect summation of a week of soups. If I couldn’t melt the snow, I could at least bring the sweet bounties of summer indoors.

I spent an unreasonable amount of time on Friday scouring the internet for the perfect strawberry soup recipe. Nothing seemed reminiscent of the liquid strawberries and lemon zest that I had so enjoyed last July. They were either overladen with dairy or not legally consumable by minors.

I briefly considered trying to make it up all on my own, but I’m simply not that talented. By the time our guests arrived Friday night, I was still flipping through online pages. It wasn’t until Nate opened up the freezer to serve our guests strawberry ice cream of all things that I gave up my quest.

Between catching up on LOST, heaps of sweet family time, the political controversy that has become our neighborhood school, and the random violence that unleashed itself on Nate’s car, the strawberries have remained untouched in the refrigerator. With no recipe on the horizon, they may very well comprise the better part of Ava’s afternoon snack.

Since I have no conclusion to my week of soups, I’m turning it over to you. What is your favorite soup recipe? And if you have a strawberry soup sans cream or alcohol, please do share.

If you post a soup recipe on your blog, let me know in the comments and I will put a link to your recipe on this post. You can also e-mail soup recipes to badgersontheloose (at) gmail.com.

Oh, oh, and I love hearing how your are enjoying the soup recipes. I’m eager to stir up a pot of yours, so send them my way!

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Despite all the pots of steamy soup brewing around here, it is still Ugg-weather. According to Fox News the current temperature is “0”. Not a lot of comfort in “0.”

As I was driving my frosty-breath preschooler to her class this morning, she looked at her window at the frozen world and asked, “Mama, why is God making it cold still? I want to see the flowers and the leaves!”

When I didn’t have a satisfying answer for her, she asked, “Do you think when the birds come back it will get warm again?”

I explained that it had to get warm again before the birds came back. She was sure her birds had gone to St. Louis because it “much warmer there” and wanted to know what her birds were up to down there. So if you live in St. Louis, could you please say “hello” to Ava’s birds? She misses them and the sunshine they follow.

Finally in exasperation, she turned to the window and shouted: “Get Warm!” Seeing that her words had had no effect on the street locked in gray, she turned to me and said, “It’s taking a long time!”

Oh girl, don’t I know it.

While I can’t control the elements that chap her cheeks, I do reign over the ones that warm her tummy. Butternut Squash is not only my favorite soup, it is a vitamin power punch. I have yet to find a recipe that touches the heavenly concoction over at Wolfgang Puck’s, but this is a close second. I love the rich golden color, smooth texture and sweet earthy flavor. It is the down comforter of soups.

I do realize this may be vegetable overload for many of you. I am almost embarrassed to show you the picture, because I paired the soup with a broiled beet salad. Upon hearing this, my dear friend, Mindy, who only ever says kind things, kindly said, “Oh, oh, I can’t go with you there.”

So this is a soup for the brave or the chilled-to-the-bone or the so-anxious-for-sunshine-that-they-will-make-a-bowl-of-it.

Butternut Squash Soup-Sweet Potato Soup with Herbed Cream Cheese

(adapted from American Bistro)


Here’s what you need:


(Sorry, more glare. I prefer to cook in sunshine.)

For the Soup:

  • 1 small Butternut Squash (obviously), about 1 1/4 pound, peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 3 medium Yams/Sweet Potatoes (red, not yellow), peeled and cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 1 Onion, quartered
  • 1 1/2 tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh Thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp fresh Sage, finely chopped
  • 4 – 5 cups Vegetable Broth (I didn’t have vegetable broth on hand this time and used chicken broth. Big mistake. Don’t do it.)
  • 1/4 tsp ground Nutmeg
  • Sea Salt and Pepper to taste

For the Swirl:

  • 1/3 cup of Sour Cream
  • 1 tsp fresh Thyme, finely chopped
  • 1 tsp fresh Sage, finely chopped

Here’s what you do:

  • Preheat Oven to 425
  • In a large bowl mix together Butternut Squash, Yams, Onion, a tablespoon of Thyme, and a tablespoon Sage. Add in Olive Oil and mix until well blended.
  • Spread vegetables on rimmed baking sheet and season with Sea Salt and Pepper. Place in oven and bake until caramelized and tender, about 35 to 40 minutes. Wearing long oven gloves, stir vegetables twice while baking.
  • Mix 1/3 cup of Sour Cream with teaspoon of Thyme and a teaspoon of Sage. Place mixture in a small plastic storage bag and press mixture down to one corner. Cut the tip of the corner and place bag aside.
  • When vegetables are very tender remove them from oven. Place half of the vegetables in a blender with 2 cups of Vegetable Broth (again, do not use chicken broth) and puree until silky smooth. Pour mixture in a stock pot over medium heat. Repeat with the other half of the vegetables and bring to a simmer.
  • Stir soup and add more broth if needed (you may not need any more broth). Stir in Nutmeg. Salt and Pepper to taste.
  • Ladle into warm bowls, add a swirl of the herbed cream cheese, and ENJOY!

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