Saturday, July 31

Hard boiled (effortless) eggs

Well, it has been quite some time since I have written about cooking. Not to worry, I haven't been keeping any spectacular recipes from you, unfortunately this is because I have had almost zero time to cook these days! Between work, friends and sleeping, cooking and baking has been pushed to the way-side. Because I work during the evenings, I don't have the option to make a nice dinner, so my dinner tends to be compartmentalized in my reusable lunch box. These meals vary from tuna salad to pb&j, but nothing too spectacular. However, I have mastered one trick that has made my lunch packing a bit simpler: effortless hard boiled eggs.

Not only is this method fool proof, but it also helps save on your utilities bill, just a smidgen! To hard boil the perfectly done egg, place your desired amount of eggs in a small sauce pan. Cover with cold water (this is important, because then the eggs don't crack!). Cover the saucepan with a lid and bring to a boil. Here comes the energy saving tip: Boil for about three minutes and then turn off the stove, and allow the eggs to sit in the hot water for ten more minutes. After ten minutes, voila! Eggs to-bout for the week. Also great about this little snack, it is the perfect sized protein boost and you don't have to put it in a package, since it is essentially "pre-packaged"!
Happy eating, and we will hopefully talk soon! Two more weeks of work, and then kitchen, here I come!

Monday, July 5

Independence celebrations

Happy Independence day (one day late)! This may seem a bit silly to say, but the third of July is my favorite day of the year. Yes, the third. This is simply because Milwaukee celebrates the fourth of July on the third of July. The day is idyllic really; thousands of families together at the lake, picnicking all day long to culminate the evening with a fine set of fireworks. Our family puts the boat in at the dock and I spend the day lounging on the water and seeing friends at the dock.

This year was no exception to the rule. It truly was an idyllic day at the lake. Perfect weather, friends and family, and a day of picnicking. This year however, had the best spread of food; everyone brought their best recipe. Our plates were adorned with curried lentils, grilled portobello mushrooms and homemade lemon cake. Perfect, really!

For my contribution, I made little star-shaped sugar cookies toped with homemade frosting and a blueberry! They were enjoyed by all (especially two-and-a-half year old, Vera, who enjoyed just the frosting and blueberries, leaving behind the cookies...). To prepare these star shaped delights, bake sugar cookies in the shape of a star and top with honey-cinnamon frosting or cherry frosting and a blueberry. I have included the recipes that I used for each part:
This sugar cookie recipe is from my More with Less cookbook.
Sugar Cookies
1 2/3 cups of sugar
1 cup of butter
2 eggs
1 cup of sour cream
2 teaspoons of baking powder
7 1/2 cups of flour
1 teaspoon of vanilla

1. Cream together the sugar, butter, eggs and sour cream. Then, blend in remaining ingredients.

2. Chill dough for at least 1 hour. Then roll dough out to about 1/4 of an inch thick. Using a star-shaped cookie cutter (or any shape really) cut out cookies and place on an ungreased cookie sheet.

3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Cool before frosting.

For the frosting, I made two different types of frosting and alternated. First, I used Martha Stewart's honey-cinnamon frosting recipe. This is my favorite frosting recipe at the moment. It is very tasty and very versatile! Then, for a festive pink frosting, I tweaked Martha's recipe for a cherry frosting. Here is my recipe for cherry frosting:

Cherry Frosting  
1/2 stick of butter
3/4 cup of powdered sugar
1 tablespoon of homemade cherry jelly

1. Blend all of the ingredients together, until thick and smooth.

2. Using a scraper or a spoon, put the frosting into a small sandwich baggie. Snip the corner of the bag and squeeze the frosting evenly onto each cookie. In the center of each frosting dollop, place a fresh blueberry.
Also a tip for easy storage and transportation: Place one layer of frosted cookies in a baking dish. Place two cookie cutters along-side the cookies and rest a piece of cardboard on top of the two cookie cutters. I used a piece of my cereal box, cut to the appropriate size. Then, lay another layer of cookies on the cardboard. The cookie cutters are just the right height to prevent the second layer from squishing the first layer. Result: plenty of perfect cookies, for all to enjoy! 

Happy eating!

Friday, July 2

Cherry pitting and cherry jelly

Hello friends! Summer is definitely here. I was at my dear friend Louisa's house this past weekend, and had the pleasure of picking cherries from her backyard cherry tree. The cherry tree has been there since Louisa was a child, and I was so happy to be able to share in the summer festivity. Then, her mother Fay, a crafting queen, shared this lovely tip with me for pitting cherries: Instead of using a cherry pitter that you might only use once a year, use a potato peeler! Genius! Using the pointed end of the potato peeler, scoop into the cherry where the stem connects. Then, scoop out the little seed on the inside, and you've got yourself a pitted cherry! Super simple, and efficient (and reduced the amount of kitchen appliances you need...)

After a couple days at Louisa's house, I hardly came home empty handed: in fact my hands were full, with cherries. Once I had successfully pitted my cherries, I used this recipe to make a delightful cherry jelly:
Cherry Jelly
4 cups of Pitted cherries
1 cup of water
1 package of pectin
4 1/2 cups of white sugar

1. Crush the cherries with a potato masher or a fork (or anything, really) and bring to a boil with water. Boil, covered for about 10 minutes.

2. Using a piece of cheese cloth or an old t-shirt, strain the cherry juice off of the pulp. You need 3 1/2 cups of cherry juice.

3. Bring the cherry juice and pectin to a hard boil and boil for one minute only. Then, add sugar and again boil for one minute. After boiling, pour into jars and seal the jars with a lid. Allow to set in room temperature until cooled.
A delightful summer treat, indeed!
Happy eating