Outside is cold. I mean COLD! Here in the east, we are in negative single digit temperatures with “feels like” temperatures in the negative teens. So yes, it’s COLD outside. Of course there are the usual and logical things to do in COLD weather like; wear a hat, scarf and gloves, blah, blah. What about things to do in cold weather? How about making DIY rice to warm you? What the what? Yep. It’s easy, even for those of us that don’t sew. Cut up squares of fabric, match them up inside out, sew up three sides, flip right side out, fill with rice, sew closed. Microwave to heat. Done. Now, here’s the important (and tricky) part, bring the hand warmers with you.
Snow is swirling both from the rooftops and the sky. The wind is howling and temperatures are plummeting all over the east. What to do? What to do? Bake of course! Dah! First, I made a double batch of homemade pastry dough; then, I used it to make a rustic apple tart with leftover almond filling. I also used the dough as the topping for chicken pot pie by turning leftover chicken soup and veggies into that comfort food and serving it for lunch. Then, just for fun, I made a big dish of chocolate brownies. Slices of the apple tart and brownies will be portioned and brought to our college student to cheer her spirits. I plan to wrap each portion with paper, ribbons and love. Each serving will be from my heart to her heart.
Freshly baked cinnamon rolls are perfect on a snow day. Let’s be honest, they’re good on any day. Am I right? Of course a little icing when it's icing is the best. A quick solution to a sweet craving? Frozen bread dough of course. Defrost it, roll it, spread it with butter, cinnamon and sugar, slice, raise and then bake. Ice while warm. Scarf! A quick icing? Confectioner’s sugar+milk+vanilla+soft butter. A touch of stirring and spreading and a huge helping of ‘That’s what she said.’
I have something to confess, Dear Readers. It’s a little embarrassing to admit but I don’t like chocolate. That’s right. I’m part of Club 19. What is Club 19? It’s the percent of people in the universe that don’t like chocolate. My family are confirmed chocoholics however so I make them chocolate chip cookies and other chocolate treats. I portion the dough, freeze it, bag it and then bake on demand. Frozen treats are great to have on hand because let’s face it, what’s better than on demand chocolate treats? LOTS of on demand chocolate treats.
Today was a busy day. I made orange sweet rolls this morning. Worked out and edited my cookbook. I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies too. I baked a few abut most I portioned and froze to bake later. Then, I made a big pot of Julia Child’s chowder while I made my Coq au vin recipe. That’s right, Dear Readers, you read that correctly. I made soup and stew at the same time. There were a lot of similar ingredients between the two pots so I did double duty and saved a lot of time and effort. Both the soup and stew will be delicious reheated, all the mess is cleaned up AND we have meals for the next few days. The next time you are planning a meal, think about doing double duty. Chop some extra onions, garlic and herbs. Cook a little extra bacon or pasta. That tiny bit of added effort now, will result in rest and relaxation later.
The past few days have become a sort of cookbook cook up. Visions of dips, dressings and delectables are dancing in my head. Recipe details like; should the parsley be chopped? Should the garlic be minced? What is the perfect way to melt chocolate? Comma or no comma? The process of editing recipes is both exhausting and fulfilling. (Mostly exhausting.) I remember when and how each recipe was developed and tested until they became old friends, both trusted and true. The most difficult aspect of editing is knowing when to stop.
Super Bowl Sunday is fast approaching. Game day calls for something extraordinary. That means only one thing, game day burgers. How about freshly ground beef burgers? I got lucky and found a vintage meat grinder attachment at a yard sale and since I began using it, have become hooked. If you’ve never tasted a burger made from freshly ground meat, you’re in for a treat!
Here is what to do:
1. Cut meat into 1 inch chunks.
2. Place chucks on a parchment lined baking sheet in a single layer.
3. Freeze beef, bowl and attachment 20 minutes.
5. Portion and cook or freeze.
Have you ever come home from a long day, made longer by a migraine? Have you come home from a long day and still need to make dinner? How about have you had a long day, have a migraine, have to make dinner AND have nothing in the house to make into a dinner? Yeah. Me either... IF however, and I mean IF this sounds like something you can relate to, I have a suggestion of something to make from nothing, crispy pasta with fried eggs and spinach salad. It’s a one pan wonder of a meal for 2 and is yummy with minimal effort. Here’s how to do it:
Heat a large pan over medium high heat. Had a tablespoon of oil and then dump in the leftover pasta. Spread it into a single layer and salt the top with coarse sea salt. Pour a glass of wine and do a bit of deep breathing to relieve your migraine while this side browns. Loosen the bottom, sprinkle whatever cheese you have over the top, slide it onto a dinner plate, crispy side down. Add another tablespoon oil to the pan and flip the pasta, cheese side down in. Lower heat to medium. Have another glass of wine because you deserve it; after all, you’re cooking with a migraine for Pete’s sake! Slide the crispy pasta back onto the plate, return the pan to the heat once more. Now, add 4 cracked eggs, cook and flip. Halve the crispy pasta, divide it and the eggs between 2 plates. Squeeze in a spinach salad wherever there’s room on the plate and serve. Reward yourself with a third glass of wine, a dark room or both.
A great BIG thank you to the The Safe & Fair Food Company folks for sending me this scrummy assortment of goodies to enjoy. I was a semi finalist for their first ever Thanksgiving Recipe contest and these treats just arrived! Guess what, Dear Readers, I am telling you now, something yummy is coming because the four granolas are not even available until Monday, January 24th! So far, I have tried the Blueberry Cinnamon and our youngest daughter, Mia, tried Birthday Cake. I shamelessly ate three bowls! Mia did the same both last night and this morning! I can’t wait to try the Chocolate and Kettle Corn! YUM! Please visit Safe &Fair’s website to learn more and to order their products, you will be glad you did!
Dear Readers, it’s COLD outside! The best thing to do is roast a chicken. The second best thing to do is make chicken stock. That’s right, cold weather means it’s time for stocking up on chicken stock. Nope. I don’t mean the store bought kind. I mean the homemade kind. Homemade stock is as easy to make as throwing a leftover roasted chicken carcass into a pot, covering it with water, adding a teaspoon of coarse grey sea salt, placing the pot lid askew and simmering for 2-3 hours. In fact, that is precisely all there is to it! Cool and chill. The next day, strain and use or portion into double-bagged resealable bags. Then, just seal, label with date made and amount and freeze flat. Do this all winter long and the dividends will offer a high yield.
Avid home cook and passionate instructor