Friday, April 18, 2014

An Old Stand-by

Missy, here. It's been a crazy week--spring break for my daughter, regional tennis tournament, and four college visits. So aside from sandwiches and leftovers, I only cooked ONCE. I made my dad's spaghetti recipe. So I decided to just repost the original recipe that I shared on the blog a year or so ago. It's my go-to meal about every other week. :)  Enjoy!

Papaw's Spaghetti

First, gather your ingredients. My dad usually makes massive amounts and freezes, but I usually cook for 4 to 6. For a crew my size, you'll need 1 pound of ground beef. Two large cans of whole tomatoes (San Marzano are the best!), depending on how tomato-y you like your sauce. And 2 packets of spaghetti seasoning. Chop one half of a green bell pepper. As you can see, I only had a red pepper when I made this, and it was just as good. Also chop about a half a large onion.

Oh, and you'll need garlic. I like to buy the jars of minced or chopped garlic for convenience. The day I made this, I had to get dinner on the table quickly so grabbed the jar.

Heat a couple of tablespoons of olive oil, add onions, peppers and garlic. Cook until softened.

Add the ground beef and packets of spaghetti seasoning. I have a handy tool (from Pampered Chef) that I use to break up the beef. You just mash as you twist, and it breaks it up nice and small!

I usually buy lean beef so there's nothing to drain. If you use higher fat meat, drain off the grease. Then add the canned tomatoes and break them up with the same tool. Mash until you have the texture sauce you prefer. (My dad actually puts the tomatoes in the blender, but I don't like the extra dishes to wash. :)) Then let simmer while you cook the spaghetti noodles. Give angel hair pasta a try if you're in a hurry.

Don't forget the garlic bread! Around here, we use old hamburger and hotdog buns to help clean out the pantry. Spray with olive oil (see my nifty refillable sprayer!). Sprinkle with garlic salt and broil until golden.

Voila! A nice, hearty, homey dinner in a pinch.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Peanut Butter Sauce for Ice Cream or... well... Whatever? Like You Need A Reason????

Let's start simple:

Peanut butter rocks.

Peanut butter and chocolate = Marriage Made in Heaven

Peanut butter sauce on ice cream?


I was making Elijah's ice cream cake for his 4th birthday, and Elijah's mother (who is related to me but shall remain nameless) requested peanut butter chocolate ice cream cake.....

Layered with vanilla.

At that point I thought of how wonderful, how marvelous, peanut butter sauce would be. And that brings us to this!

Okay, this is easy-peasy, no lie:

Peanut Butter Sauce

3/4 cup whipping cream
1/2 stick butter
1/4 cup corn syrup
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup peanut butter
1 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 teaspoon of salt

Put all in 2 quart or larger saucepan.

Heat over low. Whisk when peanut butter and butter melt. I forgot the powdered sugar and added it at the end.... and got a kind of grainy looking sauce....

So I added a splash of cream and whisked:  PERFECTLY SMOOTH AGAIN!!!!!


I have a fun fudge sauce I'll share too.... It's very similar because the basics of sauce are butter, cream (or milk) and flavor....  The flavor being the peanut butter/chocolate/chicken/artichoke, whatever sauce you're making, the basics are the same.

Remember Missy doing her saffron-burning dance a few weeks back? Well, that's the only thing with sauces, the milk/sugar gets hot QUICKLY or milk/flour gets hot QUICKLY and you have to be patient.

Missy and I walk away and do other things and then we burn stuff and we should really learn from that but we don't.

Hey, anything for a laugh!

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Old Friends, New Beginnings, and Delicious Coffee Crumb Cake

Hello, everybody! The Fresh Pioneer is back! We've been having lpts of fun in my little corner of the world.

Like painting all the kitchen cabinets. Ok, this it really wasn't fun. Seriously NOT fun. Especially since the cabinets were handmade by a not-so-professional amateur carpenter and reallllly don't fit well together at the best of times. When you take the doors off their hinges and the drawers out, it takes a miracle and a half to get them back on right.
 Anyway, we also had this happening in our house. BABY TOES. Oh my goodness, best thing EVAH. 
 And whose toes are those? (Dr. Seuss would know.) Julianne's toes! Does she look familiar? No? I'll give you another hint...
 There's her big brother on the left. (See how she adores him?)
He's got the touch. You stick your face right in there and pretend to eat her fat little cheeks.
 And she laughs her head off! Nothing sweeter than sibling love. But you still can't guess whose baby this is? OK, I'll give you another hint... Remember that post about Artisan Savory Pumpkin Rolls? Our babysitter, Cassey, is magical with children and had been fighting off single dads across the state.... Until one day, she met a cellar rat (his words, not mine!), fell in love and married him. Here's a picture of their little family then...
And now beautiful Julianne has joined Cassey, Noe, and Robert! 
So, we had some baby lovin' the other day and I tried out my new camera on her. Basically, shooting baby pictures is A LOT harder than I figured. I did get this one...
She's just chillin' in the backyard. (I giggle every time I see this picture.)
So, I've also been juicing several meals a day (that means, fruits and vegetables, not juicing hamburgers, although that sounds pretty good right now). I've kicked the caffeine habit and it wasn't that bad, which probably means I wasn't drinking as much coffee as I thought. But Edna isn't really impressed with the juicing. She needs to create and bake... not liquify.
I got this great coffee cookbook from the library and she said there was more than just drinks in there.
I try not to look at this picture too closely. *gnaws on own hand*
    And this looks especially delicious!
But in the end, we decided the Coffee Crumb Cake would hit the spot.

Preheat the oven to 350F.
2/3 cup flour
5 TBS butter
1/2 tsp allspice
1 1/2 tsp espresso, ground
1/3 cup sugar
4 TBS butter, softened, and a little more for greasing
 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg
1/2 cup sour cream
1 cup flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 tbs strong espresso
 The crew, all assembled.
I know this shows four eggs, but I just love our Americuna chickens! The eggs are SO PRETTY.
 I ordered this off Amazon. A great espresso ground and works prefectly in my latte maker!
 I found this little vintage Pyrex at a yard sale. So cute! So tiny! So yellow!
 Ok, mix all the topping ingredients into a bowl, cutting the butter into the flour mix with a pastry tool. You can use a food processor but Edna was giving directions and if it's good enough for Edna, it's good enough for me.
 Set aside the topping. In a bowl, mix the cake ingredients, beating until smooth. (You like my wooden spoon? My sister was scandalized to hear I DID NOT OWN A WOODEN SPOON. Disregarding the question of how I beat my children without one ((kidding!)), how could I cook? Every good cook must have a wooden spoon. And it's true! She got me three. So, now I cook three times as well. :)
 Pour into the greased pan.
 Add topping. Pop into oven.
 Oooo, this frosting smelled SO GOOD.
 The recipe said to leave the cake in for 35 minutes or until a toothpick came out clean, but it it took much longer. Maybe my oven is off. but it didn't start to puff until about 45 minutes and then the toothpick inserted didn't come out clean until close to 50 minutes. Let it set for about ten minutes before cutting. (I forgot this part and the pieces were a little squashed.)
 Gratuitous dripping frosting picture.
 It really was a good recipe, nice and fluffy. Very aromatic but not overwhelming with the allspice and the coffee.
 I'd like to say this is my piece, but I think I ate two... or more... So, saying "my piece" is a bit of a lie! "One of my pieces" is a better term.
 Ok, leaving you with some pictures of the lunar eclipse. It was freezing cold and I was shaking like crazy, but the new camera still was great!
 I love how the color begins to change...
 Almost completely eclipsed...
Just a sliver left! At this point, my camera wouldn't figure out what in the heck I was trying to shoot, and just whirred, unable to find the focus. But I was thrilled with what I got!

 Ok, everyone, have a wonderful Holy Week and I'll see you back here after Easter! Doesn't that sound good? EASTER. It feels like Lent has been exxxxtrrrrrraaaaa long this year. I couldn't help but put out our pysanky a little early.
I ordered these from a wonderful company called Monastery Icons. My girls are taking a class on Russian Imperialism and they were so excited to see these arrive! I forgot to order stands. Hence the ink bottle stands, haha.
(I'm not Russian, or Russian Orthodox, or have a drop of Russian in me, but I DO have a soft spot for Eastern Europe after studying Eastern Euro languages for so long. Attending the Warsaw School of Economics in Poland also might have had something to do with it, but then again, maybe not. All I remember is cabbage and snow.)

 Until next time!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Cake in a Mug Even Ruthy Can Love

Thanks to Jan, I, too, am adopting the Trim Healthy Mama lifestyle. 
I'll admit that it takes some getting used to, and there is still much I have to learn. 
But it is working. Aside from losing weight, I'm sleeping better and I don't feel bloated anymore.

That said, there are two things I cannot go without--chocolate and sweets.
Okay, in most cases, chocolate is a sweet. So shoot me.

On most diets (I hate using that word), those two things would mean sabotage. 
But whether you're gluten-free, low-carb or just cutting out the sugar, this is something you CAN have.
AND, it's actually good!

So here's what you need:

  • 1 egg
  • 2 heaping tablespoons unsweetened cocoa
  • 3-4 teaspoons Truvia
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • A dash of vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon water
  • 1 level tablespoon coconut oil

 And, of course, you need a mug. :)

Crack the egg into the mug and whisk well with fork. Add remaining ingredients. 
Doesn't look like much, but just wait.

Stir vigorously until combined.

Microwave for one minute. Yep, that's it.

Turn out onto plate.
This is really a good-sized portion for one person.

I like to slice mine in half and add a couple squirts of whipping cream for a little extra sweetness.

Unlike the Cake in a Mug recipe I shared last month, the one with the funky texture, 
this is very moist, soft and very cake-like. With virtually no carbs!

Whoo-hoo! I can have my cake and eat it too!

So what's everybody been up to? 
I feel like I've been treading water since Christmas. So much to do, yet not accomplishing any of it.
Something that has GOT to change. And soon.
So if someone could push the pause button on this thing called life, I would be most appreciative. ;-)

Monday, April 14, 2014

Peanut Butter Mousse

Jan here, having fun as we get all into this spring thing, slimming and trimming, and feeling good.... But what's this? I offer you a recipe for Peanut Butter Mousse?

Don't worry - it's low carb and delicious. If you're a Trim Healthy Mama, this is an S snack or dessert. For everyone else, it's low carb and gluten free.

I got this recipe from a blog called All Day I Dream About Food. You'll have to go check out these recipes!

This one is so easy to make, it's called 5 Minute Peanut Butter Mousse in the original version. Like always, I fudged with the recipe a bit. You'll have to try both the original version and mine, and see which you like better.


1/2 cup whipping cream
3 ounces "1/3 less fat" cream cheese (softened)
3 Tablespoons natural peanut butter (no sugar added)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3 teaspoons Truvia (or to taste)
Dark chocolate bar (at least 85% cacao) (optional)

You'll need two medium bowls.

In the first one, whip the cream until stiff peaks form. I used my hand rotary beater.

In the second bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, peanut butter, vanilla and Truvia. Beat until light and fluffy.

Add the whipped cream, and beat it some more until it's well blended and creamy.

Spoon the mousse into a custard cup or dish and refrigerate for about 30 minutes.

You can decorate the mousse with shaved dark chocolate, like I did, or leave it plain.

This was a delicious treat! Since I used crunchy peanut butter, the mousse had a bit of a crunchy texture, but that just added to the experience.

Who says eating healthy and losing weight means we have to suffer?

I'll leave you with a gratuitous puppy picture. A year old, and he still can't keep his ears straight!