comfort food

Spring may be here, but warmer temperatures (and sunshine) are still fleeting…so what is one to do when wanting/needing warmth?

Cook.

Cook and eat.

Eat comfort food.

So that’s what I did. I prepared (and enjoyed) the fabulous fish pie from Jamie Oliver’s cookbook, The Naked Chef Takes Off. 

Be sure to gather and prep all ingredients first; a few are cooked at the same time, in the same pot…best to be organized, but don’t let this intimidate you – it’s so worth the effort!

Fabulous Fish Pie

print this recipe 

Recipe taken from The Naked Chef Takes Off, Jamie Oliver

ingrediants

5 large potatoes, peeled and diced into 1-inch squares

2 large eggs

2 large handfuls of fresh spinach

1 onion, finely chopped

1 carrot, halved and finely chopped

approximately 1 1/3 cups heavy cream

2 good handfuls of grated sharp cheddar or parmesan cheese (I used cheddar, haven’t tried it with parmesan)

juice of 1 lemon

1 heaped teaspoon of English mustard

1 large handful of flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

1 lb. haddock, skin removed and sliced into strips

fresh nutmeg (optional)

lemon juice, spinach, parsley

Preheat oven to 450 F. Put the potatoes into salted boiling water and bring back to a boil for 2 minutes. Carefully add the eggs to the pot and cook for a further 8 – 10 minutes, until hard boiled, by which time the potatoes should also be cooked. At the same time, steam the spinach in a colander above the pan. This will only take a minute. When the spinach is done, remove from the colander and gently squeeze out any excess moisture. Then drain the potatoes in the colander. Remove the eggs, cool under cold water, then peel and quarter them. Place to one side.

onion + carrot

In a separate pan slowly fry the onion and carrot in a little olive oil for about 5 minutes,

pouring cream

then add the cream and bring just to a boil.

cheese, parsely, mustard

Remove from heat and add the cheese, lemon juice, mustard and parsley.

ingredients with fish

Put the spinach, fish and eggs into an appropriately sized earthenware dish and mix together, pouring over the creamy vegetable sauce.

potatoes over fish mix

The cooked potatoes should be drained and mashed. Mash with just a bit of olive oil, salt and pepper and even a dash of nutmeg, if you wish. Spread on top of the fish. Don’t bother piping it to make it look pretty – it’s a homely hearty thing.

baked

Place in the oven for about 25-30 minutes until the potatoes are golden.

serving

Serve with some nice greens or side salad.

enjoy

enjoy!

too many ripe bananas?

We had a bowlful of super ripe bananas and quite a few kids wanting a sweet treat – so what did we do? We baked some delicious banana bread! Who doesn’t like banana bread?

bananas in bowl

It’s easy to prepare, it can be frozen and enjoyed on another day or eaten right away.  It’s perfect for breakfast or as a snack. Serve with freshly whipped cream, butter or simply on its’ own. Banana bread is also great for picnics, traveling (think muffins or thick slabs) or given as a gift – who wouldn’t love to receive a loaf of freshly baked banana bread?

Also, if your short on time, but have some overly ripe bananas – don’t throw them away, simply peel and freeze. Frozen ripe bananas work great for banana bread too!

Here’s what you’ll need;

4-5 ripe bananas, smashed

1/3 cup melted butter

1 cup sugar (or less if you’d prefer)

1 egg, beaten

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 teaspoon baking soda

pinch of salt

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour

dash of cinnamon and raw can sugar (if desired)

Here’s what to do;

Smash bananas.

Beat the egg.

Combine dry ingredients in large bowl.

dry ingrediants

Using a wooden spoon mix melted butter and vanilla with bananas, then add to dry ingredients just until moistened.

wet + dry ingrediants

That’s it for mixing then,

pouring batter

pour into buttered loaf pan.

sugar sprinkle

and, if desired, sprinkle with raw can sugar and a dash of cinnamon for added texture, crunch and flavor. Serving a crowd? Double recipe (as we did) and use a sheet pan…

Bake at 350F for one hour.

slice and enjoy

Cool on rack. Slice and serve.

Enjoy.

PS. Apologies to those of you wanting to print without all the photos. While I’ve learned it’s possible, I’m still needing to learn how, so until then, my apologies…

make it yourself baking powder

What to do if you run out of baking soda? Make some – well, a good substitute that is. It’s one step and three three ingredients, actually 2 ingredients, because one isn’t that necessary…it takes seconds to make.

baking powder substitute

Here’s what you’ll need; 

1. Cream of tarter

2. Baking soda

3. The optional one – cornstarch

What else can you do with cream of tarter? Use it to make play dough or whip up a meringue…not that I’m whipping up meringues or anything of that sort any time to soon, but it is another way to utilize cream of tarter…I like to keep things in my pantry that can serve multiple purposes, cream of tarter is one of them.

Here’s the quantities

1 teaspoon baking soda

2 teaspoons cream of tarter

1 teaspoon corn starch

Here’s what to do

Mix baking soda and cream of tarter – that’s it!

Adding the cornstarch will prevent any caking.*

*Side Note about the cornstarch – I stored a batch in airtight container for a week and didn’t add the cornstarch and it was just fine…see what works for you…

Recipe adapted from frugal living.

Enjoy.

cookie love

Sugar cookie cut-outs. Finn loves them. I think what he actually loves is the fact that they contain two of his favorite words – sugar and cookies…

We made these last Wednesday, the day before Valentine’s Day. I’d been wanting to bake cookies. It’s (usually) something fun to do together, especially during the long winter months, when it can be a bit too stormy or too cold to go outside…plus it’s a great way for Finn to learn about baking, measuring and numbers – math and science rolled into something you can eat – why not bake?

So, Valentines Day presented the perfect excuse to make a batch of these super delicious and buttery sugar cookies (aka Love Cookies). Who couldn’t use a little extra love every now and then?

The ingredients are common, inexpensive and minimal – sugar, butter, flour, plus a few ‘extras’ – what’s not to love?

Here’s what you’ll need;
(recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens Baking Book)
Sugar Cookie Cut-Outs

2/3 cup butter
3/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
dash of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all purpose flour

Here’s what you’ll need to do;

1.sugar + butter combined

In a medium mixer bowl beat butter on medium to high speed for about a minute. Add sugar, baking powder, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla.

2.add flour

Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer…I was able to mix nearly all flour with the mixer…

3.mix remaining

Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flower.

4.ball of dough

5.wrapped dough

Divide dough in half, cover and chill the dough for about 2-3 hours or until easy to handle.

6.flour in scooper

7.roll out dough

On a lightly floured surface roll half of the dough at a time to about 1/8-inch thickness.

9.cutting out cookies

Cut into desired shapes. Place on ungreased cookie sheet.

10.cookies cut-out

Bake in a 375 degree oven for 7-10 minutes or until edges are firm and bottoms are very lightly browned.

11.cooling cookies

Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool.

12.cookies with icing

If you like your cookies with a bit of extra sweetness, then drizzle with a bit powdered sugar icing (recipe below) or dip into melted chocolate…not matter how you enjoy them – frosted or not – you will not be disappointed!

To make icing;

In a mixing bowl combine 1 cup sifted powdered sugar and 1 tablespoon milk*. Stir in additional milk, 1 teaspoon at a time, until icing is easy to drizzle.

Want a touch of color in your icing, but not the chemicals? Try using the reduced juice from fresh or frozen raspberries, strawberries or blueberries. Beet juice works well too (not pickled) and doesn’t need to be reduced down. *If using juice for color, add 1/2 tablespoon milk to 1 cup sifted powder sugar, and 1/2 – 1 tablespoon juice – then more as needed…I chopped a few fresh strawberries

strawberries

and then added a few frozen raspberries in a sauce pan added a touch of water and cooked down on medium heat, continually adding water as necessary until fruit is ‘cooked’/mushy/very soft.

juice

Drain, reserving both fruit and juice. Using the back of a spoon or rubber spatula, press the fruit into the sides and bottom of sieve…Reserving all the delicious and vibrant liquid… Add a teaspoon at a time to powdered sugar and milk.

juice added

Drizzle over cooled cookies – let set – store once icing has dried.

12.cookies with icing

Eat them up. Give them away. Or do both.

13.eaten cookie

Enjoy.

oatmeal and raisin cookies

Who stole the cookie, from the cookie jar…?
1A.cookie thief

These cookies don’t stand a chance…they are buttery, crunchy and chewy – all at the same time.  If you need a cookie fix, don’t go out and buy a box – make some. This recipe is super simple, requires very little time and cost is minimal. Plus, it’s prepared in a skillet – what could be better?

Recipe adapted from Better Homes and Gardens, New baking book;

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F., grease cookie sheets.

Gather your ingredients;

1.ingrediants

1 cup butter

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup packed brown sugar

3 cups quick-cooking rolled oats

1 1/4 cups flour (I used white wheat)

1 teaspoon baking powder

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 well-beaten eggs

1/2 raisins or chopped coconut or chocolate chips (I made ours with only raisins – optional of course)

How to;

2.sugar + butter

First – melt butter. once all is nearly melted, add sugars – mix.

3.adding oats + flour

Second – add oats, flour, baking soda + powder, salt – mix4.oats mixed

Third – add eggs – mix

5.raisins added

Fourth – add raisins, coconut or chocolate chips – perhaps all 3…do you dare?

6.raisins mixed

Fifth – mix well

7.raw cookies on tray

Sixth – place a tablespoon and thensome, in hand and form ball (it tends to be a ‘loose’ mix), place 2-3 inches apart onto prepared cookie sheet.

Bake for 6-12 minutes – depending on your oven – until lightly browned on bottom/edges.

8.cool on tray

Allow to set on baking sheet – roughly 3-6 minutes.

9.cool on rack

Cool completely on rack.

10. stored in jar

Store and enjoy.

Why buy boxed? Easy, inexpensive and real. It doesn’t get better…

Just for fun – the cookie jar, cookbook, baking trays, vintage spatula, and cooling rack were all picked up from my local dump. (:

birthday express…

I have been busy with the fabulous festivities of a boy turning 3! We celebrated Finn’s 3rd. birthday this past Friday (hence, no post). The day started off with a VERY early morning wake-up…(I went to bed at 1 AM – so it felt VERY early to me!) – I should say, a sprint down the stairs is how it actually started – and I wasn’t the one sprinting…

presents

I had been up, late the night before, creating a train cake complete with wheels, track, cargo and a chocolate covered smoke stack. Not the best time of day for photographs…hence the not so great lighting…

train + little people

Then busy wrapping presents and helping Michael hang streamers, blow-up balloons and create the party atmosphere so vital to the morning ‘of’ that I had no time to post…

presests + bear

nemo

…it was a lovely day of simple pleasures… breakfast and opening presents (just the three of us) then a drive down to Portland to visit to the children’s museum – funny enough, serendipity and its willingness to ‘give’ – gave us free passes to the museum – Finns birthday was ‘Free day’ at the children’s museum – we had no idea, what a fun surprise for us (and our wallet) – as Finns’ grandparents and great-grandparents met us there too!

future farmer? fireman finn

little chef

Celebrating a birthday doesn’t have to break the bank. I picked up streamers, balloons, wrapping paper, fun party napkins and plates all from the $1 store. I baked the cake, prepared the icing (no food coloring used) and purchased small amounts of candy (for the cargo) from my local health food store (no chemicals here)… the total cost was about $15, a far cry from a store or bakery bought, chemical laden cake…The passengers are from Finn’s train set as are the little trees and house.

Going out to eat after the museum did cost more than dining at home, though we wanted to celebrate with family who had traveled so far to meet us in Portland – so out for Mexican it was! Appetizers to share kept the bill low (relatively speaking) and decorating the table and chairs with balloons, party hats and festive napkins made it fun – being able to enjoy the cake in the restaurant made the night complete!

Decorating your house for the morning of is easy enough (use stuffed animals with leis or party favors to stand in as friends – until the real ones arrive), hang streamers, balloons and birthday banners. If your going to have a party at home – keep it simple and remember, bouncy castles aren’t a requirement for fun – creativity is. Kids love bubbles, art supplies, music, face painting and fun food – so why not keep it simple while keeping your budget in tact?  Happy Birthday little man – I’m so happy you chose me to be your momma!

cranberries for Christmas

Orange – cranberry cake that is. This is a fabulous recipe! Definitely worth the time, which really isn’t very much – it’s the chopping of the cranberries which is a bit time consuming – but hey, pop on some great music and chop away…Try it, you won’t regret it – everyone loves it! Plus, it’s easy and won’t break the budget, even though your taste buds will tell you otherwise…

Gift Idea – make small loaves, wrap in simple wax paper, tie with twine (or red ribbon) and add a sprig of greenery – who wouldn’t love that? Extra bonus, include the recipe.

Happy Holidays.

finished cranberry-orange cake

Orange-Cranberry Cake

What you’ll need;

cranberry-orange cake ingredients

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour

1 1/2 cups rolled oats

1 Tbsp. baking powder

1/2 tsp. salt

3/4 butter, softened

1 cup sugar

3 eggs

1 cup milk

2 cups fresh cranberries, chopped

2 Tbsp. sugar

2 tsp. finely shredded orange peel

1 recipe orange glaze

1. Preheat over to 350 degrees F. Grease and flour a 10-inch tube pan (I used a square 8×8 pan – I don’t own a tube pan – though I’d suggest using one if you have one – if not, improvise, like I did); set aside.

dry ingredients

2. In large bowl stir together flour, oats, baking powder, soda and salt.

3. In a large mixing bowl beat butter with electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add 1 cup sugar; beat until well combined. Add eggs; beat until well combined. Alternate adding flour mixture and milk, beating on low speed after each addition until combined.

cranberries folded in

4. Toss cranberries with 2 tablespoons sugar; fold into batter with orange peel. Spread cake batter into prepared pan.

cooling on rack

5. Bake 50-60 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in middle comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Remove from pan. Cool on wire rack.

finished cranberry-orange cake

6. Spoon orange glaze over cooled cake. Let stand until glaze is set. Makes 12+ servings.

cake slice

Orange Glaze: In small bowl combine 1 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 teaspoon finely shredded orange peel. Add 2-4 teaspoons orange juice to make drizzling consistency.

half eaten cake

Enjoy

I came across this recipe in a magazine years ago… I neglected to make note of the magazine (and it’s nowhere on the page)… Whomever the credits go to, they are deserved. Thank you, this is delicious!