Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Classic Potato Salad


Potato salad season is upon us. Want a really good one? Yes. Yes, you do.

Have a great Memorial Day!

Potato Salad
Adapted from The New Best Recipe
Serves: 5-8
Prep time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes plus you'll need time for the potatoes and boiled eggs to cool before assembly.
Cost: $3.30
(potatoes: 2.00, eggs: .60, mayo: .05, pickles: .50, other stuff: .15)

3 lb red potatoes (I left the skins on)
6 Tbsp red wine vinegar (you can use any, but the red wine flavor does make a difference)
salt and pepper
6 hard-boiled eggs, diced
dash onion powder (or 2 Tbsp minced red onion if you peeps aren't averse to pieces of onion)
1 C dill pickles, chopped small
3/4 C mayonnaise
3 tsp mustard (Dijon is nice, but not essential)
2 Tbsp parsley leaves or dill

Boil potatoes. (I left mine whole, let them cool, and then cut them, but you can just chop and boil if you wish). Hard boil eggs (Put in cool water, bring to boil, boil 10 minutes.)

Drain potatoes (and cut into 1/2 inch pieces if not already cut). Let cool until just warm and add vinegar and 1/2 tsp salt and 1/4 tsp pepper. Gently toss. I put mine in a bowl with a lid and flipped it over a time or two. (NoteBest Recipe claims that the slightly warm--not hot--potatoes will absorb the flavors better than cold potatoes. I admit that I let mine cool completely before reading this tip. The potatoes still absorbed quite a bit of flavor and were good, but I trust the Best Recipefolks, so try it with the barely warm potatoes). 

Let cool completely in refrigerator (20-30 minutes). Once cool add remaining ingredients and gently toss. Season with salt and pepper to taste. 


Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Spinach Quiche


This past week, I went to my friend's house and had her delicious quiche. It reminded me how very much I love quiche. And, as my friend stated, it's the perfect food. You can eat it warm or cold, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It's a vegetarian meal, but with lots of yummy proteins. And at this time of year when hens start laying more (and eating more vitamin-rich bugs and plants if they're free range), it's the perfect time for a perfect quiche. We just adopted a couple of our friends chickens and so we've been rolling in eggs (not quite literally). But I've definitely been looking for egg heavy recipes lately.

Even better: This meal can be made in 45-60 minutes even if you make your own crust. If you use a store-bought crust, it's a solid 30-minute meal (okay, maybe 35 if you don't want to burn your mouth on the quiche).

And it's cheap. If you make your own crust each serving (1/6 of the quiche) is about $.50. Even a bowl of cereal struggles to beat that people (and it cannot even begin to compare in taste or nutrition). A store-bought crust adds an extra $.20 to each serving. Still a deal and a half.

The cream cheese (and other cheeses) in this recipe rescue it from being too spinach-y or too eggy. Enjoy!

Spinach Quiche
adapted from smittenkitchen
Serves 8 
Prep time: 5 minutes
Cook Time: 25 minutes plus a few minutes to cool/set
Cost: $2.25 with crust: $2.90 (This breaks down to about $50/serving--1/6 of the quiche)
(spinach: .70, cream cheese: .40, milk: .10, eggs: .30, Cheeses: .75)

Note on spinach: The original recipe calls for 10 oz. We made several times with about half that and loved it (meaning that I loved it and Kip liked it). This last time I decided to live dangerously and used about 8 oz. spinach. It did not go over as well, which is what I get for living dangerously. I liked it, and Kip ate it, but didn't eat the whole serving--which was large, but still--and hasn't had any leftovers.) So use more spinach at your own risk.

3 oz cream cheese, room temperature (if you happen to think about it; otherwise throw it in the microwave for 20 seconds)
1/3 C half and half or milk
3 eggs
4-5 oz spinach, frozen (thawed and drained) or fresh (chopped)
1/2 C shredded cheddar
1/4 C shredded Parmesan
1/4 tsp onion powder (or a few sliced green onions if you and yourn like to live dangerously)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper

Heat oven to 425. 

Beat cream cheese. Beat in half and half, then eggs. Add seaonings, cheese, and spinach. 

Pour into a pie crust.

Bake for about 25 minutes or until you can stick a fork in it and come out clean (between 160 and 180 on an instant read thermometer). Cool a few minutes before serving so it sets up.

Cost: $.64
(flour--combo white and whole wheat: .14, butter: .50)
(Yeah, you can buy one, but if you have a food processor this takes only about 10 minutes and it tastes so so much better. And of course, even with that real butter, it's cheaper too.)

1 1/4 C flour (I use half whole wheat and half all-purpose)
1/2 C butter, cut into tablespoons
1/4-1/2 C cold water

Stick flour and butter in the food processor and process until you've got pea-sized chunks of butter (if you accidentally make them smaller, it's okay). Add water, starting with 1/4 C. If it comes together in a ball, proceed to roll it out. If not, add more water by the tablespoon until it does. (Alternately, you can cut the butter in with 2 knives or with a pastry cutter if you don't have a food processor or if you are a purist when it comes to pie crusts.)

Take dough out  and roll it to 1/8 inch thickness. Put in ungreased pie pan and shave off overhanging sides. Or, if you're me, cut and patch because your roll-out job wasn't perfectly round or even close and you have places that need more and places with too much overhang.


Thursday, May 10, 2018

Chocolate Volcano Cake (Chocolate Bundt Cake with a bunch of icing in the center)


This week it was my birthday! I love my birthday. But the night before my birthday I got home five hours later than planned from my conference. I did not have time to lovingly create a nice layer cake for myself. I actually didn't want to do anything hard at all. And I didn't. I made a gorgeous bundt cake that is super easy and super delicious and stays moist for DAYS (not that we need days around here, but still it's nice to know...).

I made it that morning. It takes about 20 minutes of hands on effort, though you do have to hang out at your house for an hour while it cooks. We ate it that night.

A few notes while I've got your ear.
-The fancy pants pan was a little small for this cake (it may have oozed over in the oven), so be sure you use a larger bundt pan.
-The frosting. The first time I made this it was perfect and liquid-y and glaze-y like it should be. But since then, I've sometimes had it seize up when I add the cocoa. I do NOT know why this happens (scientists???). I suspect it has to do with the temperature of the butter/water, but I'm really not sure. Anyway, when it seizes, it forms this thick chocolate-y paste. Do not fear if this happens. Put it in the bowl and add the powdered sugar. It will loosen up (I know it seems it will only get thicker, but it doesn't) and get runnier (the above picture is with a frosting that seized; you can see that it was still drizzle-able). It won't be as runny as a glaze, but it will be runny enough to drape over your cake in a glorious show of awesomeness.
-At the bottom of this post you'll find pics of the big bundt cake with the glaze-y frosting

Chocolate Volcano Cake
adapted from Through Her Looking Glass
Makes one large bundt cake
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 1 hour
Cost: $8.00 (much more than a usual cake in this house, but it's birthday season and I will splurge on those birthday cakes. Plus, as I sometimes point out, it's so much cheaper than buying a lousy cake make from lousy ingredients from the store. And it will feed a crowd. It's at least 16 servings making this only $.50/serving)
sugar: .30, butter: 1.25, eggs: .30, flour: .25, cocoa: .50, chocolate pudding mix: .50, chocolate chips: .90, more butter: .60, cocoa: .50, powdered sugar: .90, other stuff: .30


2 C sugar
1 C butter, somewhat softened
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
3 eggs
2 1/2 C flour
1 C cocoa
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 C instant chocolate pudding mix
2 1/4 C buttermilk
1 C semi-sweet chocolate chips

Chocolate Icing:

1/2 C water
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1 tsp vanilla
1 C cocoa
3 1/2 C powdered sugar

To make the cake: 

Grease that bundt pan, baby. Grease it, or you will regret it.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Beat sugar, butter, and vanilla. Add eggs

Add flour, cocoa, baking soda, salt, instant chocolate pudding mix. Of course you're supposed to sift this, and if you're a person with grit, I suppose you will. I always just dump it in the bowl and then sort of fluff it around with a fork or, heck, the beaters. Because I'm lazy. My cakes turn out anyway.

Now add the buttermilk.

Then the chocolate chips.

Pour it into the bundt pan (or a tube pan).

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes. Then, without opening the oven, turn the temperature down to 325 and bake for another 30-ish minutes (mine was about 35 minutes). Insert a knife or other long cake testing device. It should come out with moist crumbs, but not batter.

Let it cool for 10 minutes. Then turn it out onto a cake platter. Here I must issue another warning. Don't leave this thing in the pan for an hour or few and then expect it to come out. The longer cakes sit in pans, they less they want to leave them. So give it just a brief cooling period and then turn it out.

When it is completely cool, you'll add the frosting.

For the frosting:

Heat water and butter. Melt butter. Then remove from heat and whisk in cocoa and vanilla. Add the powdered sugar and beat (I always have to move it to a bowl for this step because my pan isn't big enough and is non stick and I like to beat icings so the ingredients incorporate fully).

When the cake is cool, pour this into the center. It will overflow down the sides. I should tell you that I also like to spoon it up onto all the sides so that it is on all sides. In fact, I do this a few times (every couple hours or so) to get a chocolate glaze coating on the cake. Because I like it like that, okay.

Old pics so you can see it with the glaze-y puddle of awesome. 


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