Sometimes a girl needs a cookie (or two)

cookieSometimes a girl needs a cookie. I mean really needs a cookie. My craving hit me on a Friday night. Chilling out at home after a steak dinner with red wine, then a Manhattan with corn whisky from Cashmere, WA (local is good) I found myself craving a cookie. Two problems were keeping me from fulfilling my desire for warm crumbly goodness: 1. I am allergic to wheat. Yeah, I know, bummer is right. And 2. I did not have the energy to make a batch of cookies. I mean I could, but man, all the measuring and mixing and blah. Not on a Friday night, and not when I am a little buzzed.

Then, it hit me. I can make my super easy Peanut Butter Cookies. I call them Bachelor Cookies because they are so easy, but they will also do for a single girl wanting to relax on a Friday night. I can hold my own in the kitchen. There are times when I consider myself a sure win for Top Chef (Although usually only after a glass of wine). But there are times that I need to give myself a break and not have to prove my domestic goddessness to my cats. I mean, do they really care anyway?

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Red and Max, two very unimpressed kitties

So, back to the cookies. A super easy sweet treat that you can do any time. Use them to satisfy a craving, or impress those who are not in the know. There are only three ingredients. That is right, three ingredients. How can that be you ask? How the hell am I supposed to know? Do I look like a scientist? But, somehow, these three ingredients work together to make yummy, crunchy but soft cookies.

IMG_0894This recipe is from a cookbook that I got at a thrift store called “Cooking the Costco Way”. In between the recipes to make 20 lbs. of some salad, there was this great recipe that warmed the heart of this gluten-intolerant girl.

Peanut Butter Cookies, The Easy Way

1 Cup sugar (you can choose white, brown or organic, as I had on hand)
1 Cup Peanut Butter (creamy, crunchy – whatever floats your boat)
1 Egg

That is it. Mix it all together, drop onto a cookie sheet and bake 11 to 13 minutes at 350 degrees.

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Then, you open the oven and you are in heaven. Cooking doesn’t need to be labor intensive or time-consuming; you just need to find the short cuts.

Making Butter Like a Pioneer Woman (If pioneer women had a KitchenAid mixer, refrigeration, homogenized milk, etc…)

After a catering I did recently, I had a half gallon of cream and I thought that I could freeze it or something so it wouldn’t go to waste. Freezing milk products is possible, but it changes that viscosity and I wasn’t sure it would whip up to whip cream when I thawed it out. My crazy mind started to think that I might have the makings of butter. I made it once in grade school by putting it in a jar and shaking it for a hell of a long time. But this time, I was older, smarter and lazier.

I headed to the place that I get all my cooking instruction –  YouTube. I watched a handful of videos, then started the process.

I began with Heavy Whip Cream – I had about 1.5 quarts. I then poured it into the ol’ KitchenAid Mixer (which I have named Bessy) and, using the wire whisk attachment, I began whipping the cream. As you whip, it will start to look pebbly and also begin to look more yellow. Just keep whipping. After about 15 to 20 minutes of whipping, the milk solids gather and completely separate from the milk. At this point, stop whipping.

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Easy, low-fat, single serving blue cheese dressing

 

I LOVE blue cheese dressing. If ever there was a perfect dressing, it would be blue cheese. But, if you’ve ever looked at the nutrition label, you know that blue cheese dressing is also evil. So high in fat! But low-fat blue cheese dressing is just kinda gross. I do sometimes cheat a bit – I’ll buy one jar of low-fat blue cheese and one jar of full-fat and mix the two. I figure it’s still better than full-fat, but not as icky as the low-fat. IMG_2865

Recently I found a recipe online that allows you to have the creamy blue cheese dressing without all the calories and fat. It is so easy to make, and you can make just enough for your salad and not have to worry about storing the rest! Continue reading

Eating for One: It’s all in the preparation!

Cooking for one should be simple and easy, but most things are packaged for multiple servings. The problem is, I like variety. I hate cooking something and then having to eat it throughout the week just so that it doesn’t go to waste. But, with a little preparation and planning, (and even if your cooking skills are less then perfect) you can make healthy, tasty meals for yourself.

meet stefAs a young girl, I loved to watch The A-Team. My mother let me watch because no matter how many bullets were fired, no one got shot. My favorite character was Hannibal. He was the planner, the one who saw the big picture and made it happen. Who can forget his famous line, “I love it when a plan comes together”? This is how I feel in the kitchen. Life is crazy busy and, many times, we resort to the easiest choice instead of the healthiest. Driving home form work, it seems so much easier to just pull into some fast food joint and not worry about cooking when you get home. I have been there; I was there just this week. Fast food has it’s place, but, when relied on too often, it negatively impacts both your health and your wallet. With a little prep and planning, you can have fast, fresh meals for yourself that are health and easy.

Planning your Menu

As a personal chef, I would sit down with a family and work out what they were going to eat for the next two weeks. Sometimes the menu would be very specific, but a lot of times there was wiggle-room to allow for seasonal foods,

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MEAT MUFFINS! (and other muffin pan dishes)

Today, my friend Stefeny sent me a link to a very cool recipe site: Do You Know The Muffin Pan? Such a cool idea – all recipes that can be made in a muffin pan! Sadly, I had this idea years ago! I wish I’d thought to extend my idea to create more recipes.

Many years ago, I was in a co-ed Bible study with a group of friends. Each week, we took turns cooking for the group of ten or so of us. My week was coming up, and I had no idea what to make. I asked Becky what she was in the mood for, and she suggested meatloaf. I don’t know how the idea came about, but at some point I decided I could make personal-sized meatloaf using a muffin pan. All I did was use an established meatloaf recipe, but divided the recipe in the muffin pan cups and baked. MEAT MUFFINS! were born.

(At this point, I must explain the all-caps of the MEAT MUFFINS! You cannot just say meat muffins. There’s a very specific way you need to say it. It’s a kinda screechy MEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEET MUFFINS!)

Since then, I have made only one other dish in my muffin pans (other than cupcakes or muffins, of course) – egg scrambles. It’s actually extremely simple. In a bowl, scramble eggs with a little bit of water or milk the way you would if you were making scrambled eggs. 1 egg equals approximately one muffin cup (depending on how much stuff you add too it). Add whatever extras you’d like. I recommend cheese for sure, but you can also add ham, sausage, peppers, bacon, veggies, etc. (a good recipe can be found here, but feel free to add what you’d like). Combine it all in a bowl. Spray your muffin pan with a non-stick spray, or, you can use aluminum or silicon muffin pan liners. Divide your mixture between the muffin cups and bake. I bake mine around 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. They are done when the tops are slightly browned, and a toothpick comes out clean.

Cooking in a muffin pan makes for great personal-sized meals. They are easy to freeze, and easy to bring to work for lunch. And they make for great conversation starters at parties!

I would love to hear your ideas of what else you have made in your muffin tins!

Save your salad!

As a single girl, I’ve discovered I throw away so much food. I just can’t seem to eat it all before it goes bad. The worst are the packaged salad mixes. They last two days, maybe three, before the lettuce turns soggy and mushy against the plastic bag. Half the time, the lettuce is already wet and mushy when you buy it!

I have discovered a solution, a pretty simple one. When you buy bagged salad, immediately open it up (well, ok, when you get home!) and empty the contents into a colander in the sink.

Sort through it, taking out any bruised or mushy leaves. Next, gently shake it in the colander a bit to get the water off and separate the leaves. Let it sit for an hour or two, until it’s dry. Be sure not to leave it out too long, or it will start to wilt, which defeats the whole point!

Once it’s dry, put the lettuce in Tupperware or a plastic container. Don’t pack it in too tight – keep it loose so the air can circulate. This trick also works for the boxed lettuce. You can put some of the lettuce back into the plastic box, but not all of it! It will be too squished, and you’ll be back where you started. Put about half in the box, and put the rest in new containers.

Store the container(s) in the refrigerator and it should keep for at least a week, sometimes longer.

This trick has been a great money saver! And now I’m able to buy my two favorite mixed salad bags (Arugula Blend and Herb Salad mix from Trader Joe’s), combine them, and eat them until they’re gone, instead of until they go bad!

An Introduction to the Modern Homemaker: Single Edition

This blog is dedicated to my mother and all the other strong women of the world

Growing up, we had an old fashioned family – my mom stayed home and my dad provided for the family. But when it came to home repairs and such, they were both involved equally. My dad designed the plans for our house, and I watched my parents build our home when I was just five years old. My mom worked right alongside him, even operating a chainsaw and the power tools. To me, it seemed normal to have a mom who could do just about everything my dad could.

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Despite that show of strength, I guess I mostly just saw the partnership of it. I still had this thought that life started once I got married and I had someone to work alongside. My parents had married really young, and I assumed I would to. I kept waiting. And waiting. I finally got married at 30 years old. I was so excited that we had our own house that we could fix up together. But I soon found that he was really no good at home projects. He didn’t enjoy it or seem to have any interest in it. It seemed so unfathomable to me that a man could have no desire to take care of a home, or even to learn how. I quickly realized I was perfectly capable on my own. Why did I need someone else to do the manual labor for me? Why had I waited so long to do all these things that I really enjoyed doing? Four years later, and for a variety of additional reasons, I am now a single girl, managing my household. And loving it!

And you can, too. I hope to share with you what I’ve learned. You can take care of yourself and your household – whether you live in a house or apartment. I don’t claim to know everything, but I’ve learned a few tricks I can share. And I would love to hear any tips you may have along the way.