Monthly Archives: July 2014

[25/100] Homemade Resource Round-Up

These recipes aren’t mine, though I’m happy to have memorized most of the methods by now.   Over the last year or so, we’ve shifted to making some things from scratch at home in order to have more control over ingredients and/or cost per unit, and also discovered some methods of cooking that make things easier.  This is a brief round-up of resources to be referenced over time (sort of like my “how to bake a potato” post). 

1. How to cook bacon in the oven.  By far, the simplest way to make a bunch of bacon all at once, without a lot of mess.  (You’ll even be able to pour off the grease once the pan has cooled a bit so you can use it for cooking later, if that’s your thing.) A web search will turn up myriad opinions about specifics, ranging from “cook at 375 degrees for 15 minutes” to “cook at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.” It’s all just about calibrating temperature and time for your preferred crispiness, but I think this link has the best set of pictures and explanations.

2. Homemade vinaigrette.  This is my favorite recipe for vinaigrette, which includes some Dijon mustard and a little honey — they add a bit of thickness and some sweet/savory “notes” (pretend that I know some culinary terms).  I make it about once a week in a mason jar, which gets stored in the fridge and shaken up whenever I want a drizzle of YUM on my salad or with some grilled meat.  Very flavorful. I have been known to lick the jar.  Don’t tell. Mine comes out a bit darker than what you’ll see in the picture at this URL.  Also: olive oil will solidify at refrigerator temperatures.  Don’t be alarmed.  Give it a few minutes to come to room temperature on your counter and then shake it up before pouring. If this kind of dressing isn’t your thing, then it’s well worth the difference in taste and freshness to investigate making small batches of whatever sort of dressing prefer. If you don’t like balsamic vinegar at all, then there’s no hope for you, but we can still be friends.  Probably.

3. Baked sweet potatoes.  I have something of a love affair with sweet potatoes.  You *can* cook them exactly the same as regular baked potatoes (as described in an earlier post), but due to their much denser texture, I’ve had better luck with using the “wrap ’em in foil” method.  It hardly counts as a recipe.  No URL for this one, sportsfans.  Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Scrub clean under water and dry (don’t peel).  Poke some holes — I use a fork, stabbing nine times because I’m weird about the number nine.  Wrap with foil.  Place directly on the oven rack and bake for about 1:10 (that’s one hour and ten minutes).  Gently squeeze the sweet potato bundles after the time is up; they should feel quite smooshy.  Cooking time might vary by 10 minutes or so in either direction, due to the differences in size and thickness of your tubers.  (That sounded a bit naughty.)  Let them cool a little while, open, and enjoy!  This method of cooking will separate the “meat” from the skin very easily, if you don’t like the skin.  MORE FOR ME.  Foil-wrapped sweet potatoes keep well in the fridge and reheat really nicely, but be prepared for some sticky juices when you unwrap.  I’ve heard that they can also be cooked in the crock pot (on low for 8 hours, wrapped in foil), but have yet to test that method. 

4. Magic almond butter.  I’ve heard that, if you’re expecting almond butter to taste like peanut butter, then you’ll be disappointed.  If you’re not expecting that, then it’s delicious.  I like it with apple slices or on a toasted English muffin (nooks and crannies FTW!).  Almond butter can be pretty pricey by the ounce at the grocery store, however.  This URL provides the most comprehensive description of the process I’ve found.  What it takes is almonds, your food processor, and TIME — specifically, about 20 minutes of noise.  Yes, it really does take that long for the magic to happen, but it *does* happen! I make about one cup at a time and all I add (toward the end) is a bit of sea salt to taste.  I don’t bother with drizzling in any oil or whatever, but you might experiment for your own tastes.  Keeps well in a mason jar in the fridge for a week or two.

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Posted by on July 16, 2014 in Recipes


[24/100] Homemade Granola

[24/100] Homemade Granola

I can’t believe this hasn’t been posted yet.  We’ve been making it for months now — and the kids make it now, even — and I think it’s pretty well calibrated to our tastes.  Credit where it’s due, though:  found the basis for this recipe via Martha Stewart at  We’ve changed it quite a bit, however.  You’ll need:

  • four cups old-fashioned oats (the rolled kind)
  • one cup sliced almonds (raw will be best)
  • one cup pulverized pecans (or 1/2-cup pecans and 1/2-cup almonds)  
  • one cup dried cranberries (craisins)
  • 1/2-cup sweetened coconut flakes
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/3-cup vegetable oil
  • 1/4-cup honey
  • 1/2-cup brown sugar
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract

Mix your dried ingredients in a large bowl — oats, almonds, pecans, craisins, coconut, cinnamon, salt.  Start the oven preheating to 325 degrees, and prep a large cookie sheet with either some vegetable cooking spray or parchment paper.  In a small- to medium-sized saucepan, warm the oil, honey, and brown sugar slowly, then bring to a low boil.  Remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract (the mixture will “flare” a bit, but don’t worry…it won’t catch fire).   Quickly empty the warm liquid into the dry ingredients and stir thoroughly to coat.  Empty the mixture onto the cookie sheet and spread evenly.  

Cook for about 20-25 minutes, stirring a few times to everything browns evenly.  It’ll smell toasty when it’s done, but pull it out before it’s deeply toasted or it’ll be overcooked.  Let cool and then crumble up by hand.  It’ll keep in a sealed container (unrefrigerated) for a week or so, but you’ll likely finish it up before then.  Tasty on its own or stirred into some yogurt.  Serving size is about 1/3-cup.  It’s much better than it looks in the photo, which is my actual hand holding a fresh batch we baked in our actual kitchen, rather than some random photo from the web.  So there’s that.  

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Posted by on July 6, 2014 in Recipes


[23/100] Sweet Potato Hash

[23/100] Sweet Potato Hash

Just discovered this blissful weekend breakfast dish, though I bet you could eat it happily any time of day.  It ain’t pretty, but dear heavens it’s good.

This recipe serves one, but it’s pretty easy to scale up to two.  It’s not really something easily made for more than two people at a time…which is cool for me, because it only makes sense for me to cook this on a weekend morning when nobody else is around anyway.  You’ll need:

  • One small- to medium-sized sweet potato, grated — I think teeny-tiny chopped pieces would do, but I really love the texture of the shredded sweet potato and how quickly it cooks up.  You’ll get one serving from about half a sweet potato, and the other half will keep (unshredded) and wrapped up in the fridge for a day or so).
  • About a handful of finely chopped onion — I’ll dice up one onion at the beginning of the week and use it up one handful at a time.  I estimate a single serving will use up about 1/4 cup of onion bits.
  • 2-4 slices of your favorite bacon — less than two slices probably won’t give you enough bacon grease, so make as much as you’d like to serve for yourself

You’ll use one large, nonstick pan for the whole process.  Start by cooking the bacon over medium heat.  Once it’s done, set it aside to cool on a paper towel and leave the grease in the pan.  (Incidentally, the time the bacon takes to cook is just about the right amount of time to get the sweet potato shredded.)  Throw the onions and shredded sweet potato into the pan; stir it around so it’s all nicely coated with the bacon grease and the spread it out in a thin layer.  For the next five minutes, you’ll stir and flip it around a few times, until it’s browned and a bit crunchy.

I’ll usually empty the hash onto my plate — onto a smallish bed of greens, if I’m clever — and then put the pan back on (sometimes with a bit of butter if needed) and then cook up an egg or two over-medium to have on the side.  Oh, yeah.  And the bacon.  BOOM.  Breakfast magic.  I swear, I don’t get hungry for at least four or five hours after this.  You’re welcome.



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Posted by on July 5, 2014 in Recipes