About Me

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Brownies with Cherries

Gooey version in front, pretty one in back

One recipe - two techniques! 

One is presentable the other a bit ugly, but they both are oh, so good! The brownie is a pretty basic cocoa-based brownie recipe and it is dense and moist, but still fluffy enough and with a very slightly chewy crispy top. 

Basic (perfect) brownie

Most recipes use all regular sugar and add vanilla in the wet ingredients.  I am trying to make a recipe that is as easy as possible to make from a dry mix and having to add three ingredients seems like too many. To counter the loss of the vanilla, I used half brown sugar which adds a lovely molasses flavor and also makes it moister. If you use all brown sugar, the top layer won't get that slightly different texture that I really want from a brownie (if all you have is one or the other, you will still end up with a delicious treat!) I'm also toying with the idea of using shortening in the mix so that egg is the only wet ingredient, but wonder about how that will affect the shelf-stability, so for now am sticking with this. 

One batch (8x8 or 9x9 pan)

1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup flour (I used whole wheat, but any will do)
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 eggs

1 cup cherry pie filling, optional

Mix all of the dry ingredients together. Add the wet ingredients. Bake in 350*oven for 25-35 minutes or until a toothpick in the middle comes out with only a few crumbs.

Top with cherry topping. 

That was the pretty version - for an ooey, gooey, doesn't come out of the pan easily treat just switch up the recipe a little! Put the pie filling in the bottom of the pan, use one egg instead of two and add 2 tablespoons of water then pour the batter on top of the cherries. 

Make ahead mix:

This is also super to keep in the pantry for a quick dessert. Below is for 4 batches, but you can do as many as you would like! When you're ready to bake, just measure 2 cups of dry mix to make one batch or adjust to whatever size you feel like eating! Ex: 1 cup mix, 1 egg, 1/4 cup oil for a few muffins or 3 cups mix, 3 eggs, 3/4 cup oil for a 9x13 pan

2 cup packed brown sugar
2 cup granulated sugar
2 cup flour (I used whole wheat, but any will do)
2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Parsley, Cauliflower, and Quinoa Salad

I've been on a bit of a quinoa kick lately and this is today's offering.

Lucille and the neighbor kids picked a large amount of parsley from the yard and so, of course, I thought about tabbouleh but didn't feel like digging in the deep freeze to find the bulghur and all of my mint died :-( so my tabbouleh-inspired salad was born.

2 small tomatoes
1 avocado
1/2 cup green onions
juice of 1/2 lemon
hearty amount of salt and pepper

about 3 cups of chopped parsley
1-2T  capers

3 cups cooked quinoa (made from1 cup of dry)

about 1 cup chopped raw cauliflower

Finished Salad!

Parsley, Cauliflower, and Quinoa Salad

2 small tomatoes, diced
1 avocado, diced/crushed
1/2 cup green onions, diced
juice of 1/2 lemon
hearty amount of salt and pepper
about 3 cups of parsley, rough chop
1-2T  capers
3 cups cooked quinoa (made from1 cup of dry)
about 1 cup raw cauliflower, chopped

Mix and serve!

Monday, October 31, 2016

Not Texan, But Still Good CHILI (and a vegetarian version)

½ – 1 lb sausage
½ - 1 lb cubed or ground beef
½ cup onion
2T olive oil
2 cloves garlic
½ t crushed red pepper
1 t cumin
1 T chili powder
1 T season salt
14 oz can chili style beans
14 oz can kidney beans (drained)
10 oz can Rotel
28 oz can crushed tomatoes
14 oz can diced tomatoes
½ t brown sugar

Chili follows the same rules as spaghetti sauce, anything goes, really.

Fry the onions and meat until the meat is cooked through and the onions are a little translucent then add the garlic and seasonings, fry for just another minute (garlic burns quickly, be careful). Then add all the beans and tomatoes.

I use whole cumin that I grind in a mortar and pestle. It tastes fresher, but can easily be substituted for ground if that's what you have. Cumin is what makes chili taste like chili, I think.

You will have to play with the seasonings to get it just how you like it, I know we like it spicier than a lot of families. The amounts listed are just basic starting points. You can use just unseasoned canned or dried beans and skip the ones in the chili flavorings but it just gives you a little head start.

Easy Vegetarian Chili
1 medium onion, diced
2T olive oil
2 cloves garlic, pressed or chopped
2 cans chili beans
1 can diced tomatoes and green chilis (Rotel)
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can kidney beans
1/2T ground cumin
1/2T chili powder
1/2T cayenne
1T seasoned salt or Jane’s Krazy Salt
Sauté onion in oil over medium-high heat until translucent, add garlic and spices, sauté another minute. Add all other ingredients, reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer as long as you like.

Monday, October 3, 2016


8 eggs
2T milk
2T olive oil
1 clove garlic, pressed
1/8C  bell peppers, diced
1/8C onions, diced
1/8C spinach, chopped
Krazy Jane’s
optional: parmesan or feta
Sauté vegetables in oil over medium heat. Mix eggs and milk, pour over sautéing vegetables, cover. Cook until almost done, about 5 minutes (will continue to cook a bit after removing from heat).

If you are using an oven safe skillet, then you can start it on the stove, then put it under the broiler to finish even more quickly and get a nice golden brown top.

Lentil Loaf

2C  lentils
4 C broth (vegetable or chicken or water with bouillon)
2T olive oil
1/2C onion, diced
1/4C bell pepper
1/4C carrot
1/4C celery
2 eggs
1C bread crumbs
1C oats
1T Worcestershire
1 ½t Italian herb mix
2 garlic cloves or 1/2t garlic granules
3/4t pepper
1/2t salt
Bring broth to a boil, add lentils, reduce to simmer, cook 30 minutes (most of the liquid should be absorbed). Smash about half of the lentils with a potato masher or heavy spoon.  In separate pan, sauté vegetables in oil until almost soft. Mix all ingredients together. Press into greased loaf pan (or any other pan). Bake at 375° for 30 minutes. Let sit for about 15 minutes before slicing.

This is great as is, but I like to top it with a ketchup glaze (ketchup and brown sugar whisked together and microwaved until smooth) about 5 minutes before it is done cooking.

I have also formed these into “meatballs” and pan fried them. If you do this it helps to smash most of the lentils and refrigerate the balls for a bit before frying.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Stuffed Pepper Casserole - and Meal Pairing

In my book (shameless plug: Eating on the Cheap) I talk about meal pairing and this is a super example. Watch the meal transformation:

Saturday - chicken and broccoli pasta

  • cooked a pound of pasta, but only used half for tonight

Sunday - pasta marinara with ground beef

  • used rest of pasta from Saturday
  • cooked a small amount of ground beef to add to sauce, then used that pan to cook more ground beef and ground sausage
  • added leftover sauce to cooked meat
  • also cooked rice in the pressure cooker while browning the meats

Monday - stuffed pepper casserole

  • used meat, sauce, and rice from Sunday

With the magic of prepping ahead, the stuffed pepper casserole took less than 10 minutes from refrigerator to table. 

I sliced bell peppers, tossed them in olive oil and layered them in the bottom of a pan, then put them under the broiler while I warmed up the filling (that was already cooked.) 
Then I dumped all the filling on top of the pan full of peppers, topped it with a mix of breadcrumbs, nutritional yeast, olive oil, and Jane's Krazy salt and broiled for another couple of minutes. Super easy and delicious! 

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sleep... aka How to Remember What Day it is...

"The importance of a good night's rest" is an expression we have all heard. Very few people give it the dire and devastating level of attention it deserves. I'm not a doctor, but I feel pretty confident saying that humans could live longer without food than we could live without sleep.

I have a tendency to attract mentally fragile people (most of whom have been tricked into thinking that I am handling my mental illness well.) Nearly every time a person comes to me with a confession of considering self-harm it is after some time of either no, inadequate, or restless sleep. Even one night of bad sleep can cause a person with mental illness to begin an awful spiral. It might take more "stable" people longer than one night, but they get there as well.

For many, many (like, 40) years I refused to take sleeping aids. I have a real aversion to taking meds and the one that I tried knocked me out so well that there would be no way for a kid to rouse me and even if they did, I wouldn't be any help to them. But, alas, the crazy teaches lessons you might not want to learn.

Recently, I was having more periods of confusion and more thoughts of self-harm and just plain negativity than I could handle. My psych knows that the idea of taking pills is ick to me and is great at accepting that. She found a not-so-scary med (basically super Benadryl) to try just when I had trouble sleeping and it worked beautifully. What happened, though, is that I realized that I always have trouble sleeping, it is just when it became drastic that I was labeling it as a problem. For the last two months I've been taking a small dose every night and, while all my problems haven't magically disappeared, things are much easier to handle. It is also very easy to see when my sleep isn't great because now I have an accurate baseline.

This is a long intro to a story about the repercussions of inadequate sleep.

Wednesday night I stayed up super late binge watching "Lip Sync Battles"... 'cause I'm a wild woman. I had to work Thursday morning and was groggy and more ditzy than normal. Nothing crazy, just tired. Well, that meant that I dozed off Thursday early evening, but then woke up feeling refreshed two hours before I should have gone to bed. Then, of course, I wasn't ready to sleep, so I stayed up too late again and then tossed and turned all night. I had fitful dreams - Paige washing my windshield with a washcloth while we were driving - me forgetting to go to work because I thought it was Saturday (complete with a tearful, blubbering call to my boss) - grocery shopping without enough money - and more that I can't remember.

So, I woke up Friday morning in a panic because I thought, to begin, that I had forgotten to go to work and then couldn't remember what parts of that were a dream and what day it really was. I get in the shower and work out in my mind that it is Friday and I have to be at work and probably didn't call and leave a frightening voicemail for my boss. Then I remember three or four things that I forgot to do at work the night before that need to be done for a party today and so I need to rush to be a little early. I'm beating myself up because we weren't even busy and I don't know why I didn't do them! I get out of the shower with a plan to be a super fast get-readier. Then I realize that I don't have any clean socks that work with my good work shoes, but, have no fear! I have a backup pair of work shoes! Actually, I have one shoe. Dang it, where is the other one. I look everywhere, seriously, everywhere. I finally give up and am just going to wear the ones that will show the "sport" sock markings. Then, I spy the other sneaky little bugger peeking out from under a pair of flopped over boots. Okay, now I'll only be about 5 minutes late when I need to be 15 early. All that's left is to grab the baby and my glasses and head out. Glasses. Glaaasseeesss... **insert your favorite curse words, I probably said them*** I could have sworn that I knew exactly where they were... Frantic searching for 10 minutes and they are nowhere NO WHERE. Fine, now I'm 15 actual minutes late/30 minutes later than I wanted to be. I throw the baby into car and then into the preschool and speed off to work sans glasses. I run in the building and grab the plates and bowls to do the things we forgot the night before only to find that they are already made. It takes me a solid five minutes to figure out what you might have noticed if you have been able to follow this story - that I didn't work Thursday night, I took a nap on the couch. That's right, I forgot the fact that I did not work, therefore did not forget to do the set up. The people who did work did the set up as they should have. Today is Friday...

Sleep. It's a good idea. Tonight I will take a little extra medicinal sleeping help.

Luckily, I am in a place where I can realize that this is fine and I can fix it. It has not made me feel like a worthless piece of excrement who doesn't deserve to waste breath that good people might need. Does that seem ridiculous? Yeah, it should, but it is part of life for crazy me. A day like today could very well have sent me into a spiral that would last days or weeks. Today, I can laugh at it and know that tomorrow will be better.

P.S. The glasses were found tonight, under the pile of clean clothes that I frantically threw around trying to find the dang shoe.