Friday, December 31, 2010

Popcorn Soup

This really isn't a soup, it's more like a breakfast porridge. We call it popcorn soup, because we ground popcorn kernels to make it. (That 25lb bag of popcorn from Sam's takes a long time to use up, even for a family of 8!) Maybe it should be called Cream of Popcorn, or Sweet Polenta or, yeah - Sweet Polenta. I like the sound of that. Anyway... here's how you make it:
1 cup polenta (or coarsely ground corn meal -or coarsely ground popcorn, in case you have about 20 pounds too many, like we did)
3 cups cold water
2 cups milk
dash salt
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine 2 cups of the cold water and 2 cups of milk in a medium saucepan. Slowly bring it to a low boil. Stir the polenta into the remaining cup of water. Once the milk mixture is boiling, add the salt and slowly stir in the polenta/water mixture. Keep whisking it so that it doesn't get lumpy. Simmer for several more minutes while stirring, or until it is thickened. Remove from heat & stir in the sugar & vanilla. Ladle into bowls and serve with milk, if desired. (Which, around here, it always is.)
Serves 5-6.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Octopus & Seaweed

I know this isn't a real recipe, but it's such a fun & cute idea that I just had to post it here. I first read about it several years ago, but hadn't made it for my younger set of kidlets. So, if you aren't philosophically opposed to feeding hotdogs & ramen to your children, here's how ya do it:
Get a hot dog & cut legs all the way up to within an inch of one end. (Mine only had 6 legs, but only a couple of my kids noticed.) Boil the hotdogs for a couple of minutes, and their legs will magically open up and they will become Octopi. (Design their faces with mustard.) Serve over a bed of ramen, which you can tint with green food coloring if you want it to be more realistic, that is, of course if you aren't opposed to feeding your kids even more chemicals. :P

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Sugar Cookies

I just love Christmas baking, and in case I haven't posted enough sugary recipes here lately, here's another one...

This is another slightly altered allrecipes recipe. I love the flavor of these cookies. If you roll them out a little thick (1/2") they are just soft enough without being cakey. Thinner and they will be a bit crispier, but still tasty. The flavor is sweet, but not too sweet, which is important because most of my decorators like to really pile on the icing & sprinkles!

This is important & will save you lots of mess: instead of rolling the cookies out on a floured surface, I have found it much easier to roll them out on floured parchment paper and transfer the paper to pans for baking. The dough is rather sticky and may bunch up or tear if you try to transfer it with a spatula.


  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups white sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 6 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt

  1. In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in eggs and vanilla. Stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt. Cover, and chill dough for at least one hour (or overnight).
  2. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C). Roll out dough on floured surface 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick. Cut into shapes with any cookie cutter. Place cookies 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheets.
  3. Bake 6 to 8 minutes in preheated oven. Cool completely.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Overnight Caramel Sticky Buns

This recipe came from The buns are so sticky, gooey and delicious [how could they be otherwise, with all that butter & sugar?] and make a great special breakfast (i.e. Christmas!). The best part is that you do all the work the night before, so that in the morning all that is left is to stick them in the oven. I changed the recipe to double the caramel goo, because they weren't quite gooey enough for me.

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 (.25 ounce) packages active dry yeast
  • 1/2 cup warm water
  • 1/3 cup white sugar
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 egg
  • 7 cups all-purpose flour

  • 2 cups packed brown sugar
  • 1 cup butter
  • 4 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 1 cup pecan halves

  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons ground cinnamon

  1. Warm the milk in a small saucepan until it bubbles, then remove from heat. Let cool until lukewarm. In a small bowl, dissolve yeast in warm water. Let stand until creamy, about 10 minutes.
  2. In a large bowl, combine yeast mixture, milk, sugar, oil, baking powder, salt, egg and 3 cups flour. Beat until smooth. Stir in the remaining flour, 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. When the dough has pulled together, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic, about 8 minutes. Lightly oil a large bowl, place the dough in the bowl and turn to coat with oil. Cover with a damp cloth and let rise in a warm place until doubled in volume, about 1 hour.
  3. Heat brown sugar and 1/2 cup butter until melted. Remove from heat; stir in corn syrup. Divide mixture between two 9x13 inch baking pans. Sprinkle 1/2 cup pecans in each pan.
  4. When dough has doubled in size, punch down and turn out onto a lightly floured surface. Roll out into a large rectangle and spread with butter. Sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon. Starting with the long side, roll up the rectangle into a log, and slice into 1 inch wide rolls. Place the rolls slightly apart in pans. Wrap pans with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 12 hours but no longer than 48.
  5. Remove rolls from refrigerator and let stand in a warm place until doubled in size, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
  6. Bake uncovered in preheated oven until golden 30 to 35 minutes. Immediately invert pan on heatproof serving plate. Wait for 1 or 2 minutes before removing pan, so that caramel drizzles over rolls.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010


Every year for the past 4 (I think!) we have made gingerbread houses. It is a lot of fun & is something the kids talk about and look forward to all year. I got this recipe from friends who make incredible gingerbread constructions (Noah's ark, lighthouses, etc...) every year. It is very dependable and makes yummy cookies, too.

1 1/2 cup molasses
1 cup brown sugar
2/3 cup cold water
1/3 cup shortening
7 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp cinnamon

Combine first four ingredients. Stir in the remaining ingredients until well blended. Cover and chill for at least 2 hours. (I've even made the dough up to a week ahead of time.)

Heat oven to 350F. Roll dough 1/4" thick on floured surface. Cut with floured cookie cutter or knife or pizza wheel, etc...Place about 1" apart on lightly greased cookie sheet. Bake until no indentation remains when touched, about 10-12 minutes. Cool before using for construction.

For icing glue, beat together 4 egg whites and 4 cups of powdered sugar until smooth. If you're building houses, you may need to support the structures (canned vegetables work well for this) until the icing hardens.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Hakuna Matata Breakfast Frittata

Hakuna Matata Breakfast Frittata
Ain't no passin' phrase!
It means no worries, for the rest of your days.
Breakfast - problem free, with eggs and cheese...
Hakuna Matata, Breakfast Frittata!
I love this recipe, because it is easy and simple. You can make it plain or dress it up. When I make it for the kids, I make it plain, but I think adding some sauteed mushrooms, red onions & swiss cheese would make it even better!
6 eggs
1 cup milk
1 Tbs melted butter (I subbed 1 Tbs of the leftover grease from the bacon instead of the butter - bad me!)
salt & pepper to taste
1/2 cup finely diced ham or crumbled bacon
1 cup shredded cheddar
Beat the eggs, milk, salt & pepper. Pour it into a greased 9x9 pan. Sprinkle with ham or bacon and then the cheese. Bake at 350F for about 25-30 minutes or until knife inserted near the middle comes out clean. Serves 5-6.

Monday, December 6, 2010


I love hummus. It is so yummy, healthy & easy to make. I've seen many recipes for it and have come up with my own version. If you don't have the Gochujang, never fear. It is not necessary, I just like the hint of zippy flavor that it adds. If you don't have it, just use a dash or two of tabasco sauce or cayenne.

2 cans chickpeas (a.k.a. garbanzo beans)
2 Tbs lemon juice
1 Tbs sesame oil
1 clove garlic, crushed
1/2 tsp gochujang
salt & pepper, to taste

Drain the beans, saving the liquid from the cans. Put all the ingredients into a food processor and process until it looks like mush. Mix in enough of the bean liquid to make it creamy. Serve with cut veggies, crackers, bagel chips or even spread it on bread & make a sandwich!

P.S. This is what Gochujang looks like. It has a very, very, VERY spicy and unique flavor. You should be able to find it at an asian grocery store.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Sweet Potato Chips

I've turned 35 and have entered a new phase in my life. (I'm not sure how long this phase will last, but that's beside the point.) I'm trying to seriously reduce the amount of white flour & white sugar that I eat, and add more whole grains, fruits & veggies to my diet. This excludes my Coffeemate French Vanilla Coffee Creamer. And ice cream. And cookies. Oh, and cake, pie, etc...

Anyway, my sister-in-law told me about this recipe. I love sweet potatoes, anyway, so I thought I'd give it a try.
It was really good! Three of my children liked the chips, two tried a small crumb & wanted no more, and one remained true to his anti-sweet potato convictions and wouldn't touch them. (Oh well, more for me!)
Even though the taste of these were really good, I probably won't make them very often unless I get a mandolin slicer. It was really hard to get them sliced thin enough (think paper-thin) by hand.
1 sweet potato
Slice the potato into very thin slices. Lightly coat with oil. Lay the slices on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper and sprinkle with salt. Bake at 350F for around 30-40 minutes (turning them over every now & then). Keep an eye on them! They won't be crispy unless they are a little brown. Remove them from the pan as they start to brown, leaving the rest behind until they are brown, too. They will get crispier as they cool, though, mine weren't 100% crispy. It was more like a combination of crispy/chewy and sweet/salty - which I loved.
One potato made 4 baking sheetfulls.