Thursday, December 8, 2011

Fudge for the Lazy

I love homemade fudge, but, until recently, I rarely made it. I have a tendency to either burn the sugar or undercook the fudge, leading to less than optimum taste or texture. Plus, I live in Florida, so, the idea of standing over the stove stirring sticky candy is not always appealing.

However, I started making fudge more once I found a super easy recipe to make it. The magic lies with sweetened condensed milk. This is not to be confused with evaporated milk, by the way. Sweetened condensed milk is sweetened, while evaporated milk is just milk. Sweetened condensed milk gives foods a smooth and pleasant texture that is great for fudge and other desserts.

I usually make this in the microwave. You can vary the flavor by using different kinds of chips, or even subbing some peanut butter or almond butter for part of the chocolate chips.

Try adding nuts, crushed mint candies or other add-ins to mix it up.

Stupid Easy Fudge
  • one pound (3 cups) chocolate chips
  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Combine all ingredients in a microwave safe bowl. Cook at medium heat for 30 seconds at a time, stirring at the end of each interval. The fudge is done when all ingredients can be combined. Pour into a parchment or plastic wrap lined 8 in by 8 in pan. Cool in the fridge.

If you do not want to use the microwave for this, you can also heat the items in a double boiler over medium heat until melted.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Stupid Easy Winter Soup

This recipe came to me by way of my ex-MIL, a chef. She said they used to make it as a quickie second soup at the inn where she worked. Every time it was presented, it was the most popular selection.

This is one of those super tasty, but super embarrassing recipes. Jellied cranberry sauce? You feed that to people over the age of 12? Seriously, though, the result is delicious. It is just the thing to accompany a grilled cheese sandwich on a cold night.
Cranberry Tomato Soup
  • 1 can jellied cranberry sauce
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
Dump both of these in a sauce pan. Cook until heated through. Seriously. That's it. If you want to fancify it, you could add a drizzle of heavy cream, a handful of dried cranberries, or perhaps a bit of crystallized ginger.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Beautifully Animated GIFs

This one is my favorite:

There are many more food and fashion animated photographs here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Preserving tomatoes with almost no work

I'm impressed. This blogger grows 2000 pounds of tomatoes a year. There's no way I could pull that off in my tiny, shady yard, but, I do buy some at the farmer's market when they are in season. I usually slow roast and freeze the ones I'm putting away. For those who wish to can but are overwhelmed by the usual work, check out this blog post: How to Preserve 100+ Pounds of Tomatoes with Almost No Work.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Like Coffee? Like Contests?

Just a short entry to let you know that jenzshoppin over at My Mom is a WAHM is giving away a $10 Starbucks giftcard. Head over to this post to enter.

Because I'm also cheap: the guide to group buying sites

I love eating in new restaurants. Unfortunately, I'd go broke if I ate out as much as I wanted. Luckily, I have found a nice workaround that has allowed me to double, if not triple, my restaurant budget.

By now, pretty much everyone has heard of group buying sites such as LivingSocial or Groupon. The concept behind the sites is this: you pay a small amount, such as $20, to get a larger amount, say $40 or so, in credit with a local merchant. These blow deals out of the water. There's no minimum purchase to get the credit, and usually few or no restrictions on how to use your certificate.

So, none of this is news, so why I am telling you? Because I want to share a couple of my strategies for getting even more out of my discount:

  1. Buy your certificate through a site like SwagBucks. Swagbucks gives back an amount of points that turns out to be about $2 back. Sadly, they no longer offer Groupon deals there, but, you can still buy EverMore and HomeRun.
  2. Buy your certificate through eBay. They pay out 5% in eBay bucks. EBay bucks, of course, can only be used on eBay. However, I shop there enough that I always wind up using my bucks.
  3. Buy through eBates. They usually offer 3% back, but sometimes double to 6%.
  4. Make sure you buy using a rewards card. My rewards card of choice is my PayPal debit card, where I get 1.5% cash back each month.
  5. Think you won't use a deal before it expires? Resell it on Lifesta. On popular deals, you can even make a profit.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Homemade Vegetable Bouillon

As I've mentioned before, I think that having a pantry full of high quality ingredients is key for lazy foodiness. I can throw together a pretty respectable pasta with aged parmesan, some preserved lemon and some parsley snipped from the plant by my door. It's even more satisfying when these ingredients are homemade.

I found a great recipe for making your own homemade vegetable bouillon a few months ago on the fantastic cooking blog In Jennie's Kitchen. This has become a regular key player in dishes that need a little oomph. It has a much nicer flavor than bouillon cubes or canned broth, and it's cheaper, too. This recipe may seem high in salt, but, you only use it a teaspoonful or so at a time. Plus, the high amount of salt is needed to cure the vegetables and prevent them from spoiling. You should cure the bouillon for a couple of days to let it develop its peak flavor. However, I found that it's pretty good right after you make it, too. Feel free to make some substitutions for preferred vegetables, or to use up what you have on hand. For instance, Jennie's recipe calls for leeks. I omitted them and upped the onion and garlic, since those were what I had on hand.

Homemade Veggie Bouillon
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 2 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, peeled & quartered
  • 4 cloves garlic
  • 6 sun-dried tomato halves, chopped
  • 3/4 cups cremini or white mushrooms cleaned and quartered
  • generous handful of fresh parsley, including stems
  • 3 1/2 ounces kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns

Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender. Store in a clean container in the refrigerator. To use, mix one teaspoon bouillon with one cup boiling water.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Chickpea Patties

I found the recipe that this is based on on the Chowhound boards a few months ago. The poster described it as falafel, but, since the chickpeas are cooked and other veggies are included, I don't really consider the description accurate. However, that doesn't stop it from being a good last-minute dinner option that can be cooked with ingredients you probably have on-hand.

Chickpea Patties
  • 1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 carrot, shredded
  • 1 small zucchini, shredded
  • 1/2 small onion, minced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • more flour for dusting
  • olive oil

Toss the chickpeas in a food processor, and process until they're broken up. You want some chunks left. Stir in vegetables and spices. Add just enough flour so the mixture holds together. Form into walnut sized balls, flatten, and roll in flour.

Heat oil in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Cook patties for three to four minutes each side, until golden brown.

This can be eaten in pita bread like falafel. Serve with tahini or another flavorful sauce. These can also be baked to cut down on fat content.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Lazy Peanut Butter Cookies

My husband is a peanut butter fanatic. I love easy recipes with very few ingredients. When I stumbled across a recipe for peanut butter cookies made with only three ingredients, I knew it was something I had to try. And no, the lack of flour is not a typo. These come out exactly like traditional peanut butter cookies.

Stupid Easy Peanut Butter Cookies
  • 1 cup peanut butter
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg

Mix all ingredients until combined. Preheat oven to 350. Drop walnut sized blobs of cookie dough onto a greased cookie sheet. Bake for about 8 minutes. They should be lightly browned. Don't worry if they seem really soft. They will firm up as they cool.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Restaurant Review - Ozona Blue

One of the things I love about the marina where we keep our boat is the little restaurant across the canal. They have live music a few nights a week, and I enjoy sitting on the deck of the boat with a beer or a glass of wine taking advantage of the free sounds.

The restaurant is pretty pricey, but in a uniquely Floridian way. I can't think of many other places where sweaty folks in cut offs can buy a dry aged steak for lunch. The food is high end, but the atmosphere is decidedly casual.

Simon and I went there today to grab a quick bite after sanding the finish on the boat. As ever, we were very happy with what we got.

It's not a place for microbrews, but, there are a couple decent macrobrews on the menu. I grabbed an Ozona Lager, which is actually Budweiser American Red in disguise. Simon had a Yeungling.

One of the best things on the menu here is also the cheapest. Their seafood gumbo is one of the best I've had, anywhere. It's mildly spicy, and has a generous portion of firm and flavorful fish, shrimp and scallops.

I also ordered a dish I was trying for the first time, the Atlantic Salmon Flatbread:

They make the flatbread in-house, and cover it with smoked salmon, feta, capers, onion and sour cream. The texture of the bread was nice and crispy. The salmon perfectly set off by the capers and onions. I'm not crazy about the appearance of the sour cream squiggles across the top, but, other than that, this is a great dish.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Cooking with the Kansas Dad

My friend Lon has been posting pics of his cooking for years. He's a great cook, and has just launched a YouTube-based cooking show. Definitely worth checking out.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


It still feels like it's in the 90s outside, but fall fruits are already starting to show up in stores. Today, I found one of my favorites:

Red currents! They are not even a bit local (Florida is too hot) but I still treat myself to them a few times each fall. I love the tart flavor and their translucent glow.

Usually, I just eat them out of hand. I get too few to ever cook with them. Readers who live in places where currants are more plentiful: what are your favorite ways to use these fruits?

Monday, August 22, 2011

Soup for the Lazy

I came up with this one night when nobody was that hungry, but I was sort of craving Chinese, and also had some tofu that needed to be used.  Wound up with a real easy and tasty hot and sour soup. The best part is that this is really quick, which is an asset in any soup you are cooking during the summer.

Lazy Hot and Sour Soup

  • 6 cups water
  • medium sized handful dried slivered tree ear mushrooms
  • 1/2 block tofu, cut into strips
  • 4 chicken bullion cubes
  • a couple of cups of bok choi, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • big glug hot sauce
  • 2 teaspoons corn starch

Bring the water to a boil and toss in the mushrooms. Turn off the heat and let them sit until tender. Package says 30 minutes, but I find it's more like 10. Turn the heat back on to medium and add the rest of the ingredients, except the corn starch. Simmer about 5 minutes. Take a ladle-full of hot soup, and stir in the corn starch. Mix this all back into the pot, and give it a minute or two to thicken a bit and for the raw flavor of the corn starch to cook off.

When looking at recipes online, I found that most include dried lily blossoms. I've seen these in Asian grocery stores, but always forget to pick some up. I'll grab a pack some time when I'm shopping, just to have on hand.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Refrigerator fermentation!

Just a quickie post to point you to an exciting post on a great blog. Tigress in a Pickle (gawds, I love the name of that blog) has a recipe for refrigerator fermented pickles.

I ferment things in the winter months, but, it's too hot here in the summer to get anything other than a mold-furred, smelly mess.

Having a few fantastic, homemade ingredients on-hand is a great way to make excellent meals quickly. I will be trying out these pickles, since they look super easy and delicious.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Stupid Lazy Dinner

Sometimes, I just don't freaking feel like it. But, I'd much rather cook something at home than spring for take out (I am as cheap as I am lazy) so, it helps to have some super simple recipes on-hand.

I think I spent maybe 5 minutes of hands-on time making this, and everyone in the house raved about it.

Tomato Bean Thing
  • 1 can diced tomatoes
  • 1 can generic RoTel
  • 1 can hominy, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cans black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can corn, drained
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • glug of olive oil
  • couple of teaspoons of cumin seeds
  • couple grinds fresh pepper

Drop it all in a pan and cook over medium heat until the celery is crisp-tender.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Just Say No to Gunk in Plastic Pouches

Lazy as I am, I am opposed to most convenience foods. There's just no need for them. I can make fudge in 5 minutes (I'll probably share my recipe around the holidays) with three ingredients and my microwave. Why would I bother buying overpackaged goop?

That said, I still read columns like SuperTaster over on, just in case he stumbles across some packaged food that's worth trying. Oh, and because he's incredibly funny when he tries out something that is particularly loathsome. His recent review of Reese's Dessert Bars does not fail to deliver the funny:
Standing in the kitchen squeezing softened, low-grade chocolate icing out of a plastic bag, all I could think was: "If Michael Pollan saw me doing this, he would be displeased. I don't even think he'd yell at me. He'd just stare for a moment with a wounded look in his eyes, turn slowly around, and walk out of the room, never to return."
I won't be buying this dessert mix anytime soon, but I'm glad SuperTaster was so willing to suffer in my place.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Next Project: Homemade Ice Cream

I don't own an ice cream maker. I've picked up a few, but, I always wind up taking them back to the thrift store after too long. They take up a lot of room for something I only use a few times a year. They're also a pain to clean, which is a real turn off for lazy folk like me.

I've been seeing recipes online for homemade ice cream without the machine, however. Many have you putting the custard mixture in a metal pan, putting that in the freezer, and stirring periodically until it is frozen. Others use cream that has been whipped.

I am extremely curious about the ones on Kevin and Amanda. I'll report back on how they work out.

Monday, August 8, 2011

What to Do with Too Much Zucchini

Zucchini season is long gone down here (Florida) but, still in full swing in other parts of the country. Broke Foodie had a recipe a few weeks back for something to do with some of the excess, Zucchini Hummus.

I'm a serious hummus fan, so, I will be giving this a try next time I have some and I don't know what to do with it.

Naan Bread: Post Game Report

The bread came out great, and was a big hit.

One important note: if you don't have ghee, use vegetable oil. Do not, ever, think that you can cheat and use regular stick butter. Otherwise, like me, you will wind up with a kitchen full of smoke and a sore throat.

I did make a batch of ghee today to use while making more naan bread. I'll dedicate a post to that a little bit later.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Lazy Homemade Indian Food

My friend Kimberly is moving to China in a couple of weeks. Until she goes, she's hosting a weekly potluck each Sunday. This week, it's Indian food. I had planned a super simple raita, and maybe a potato curry or something. And then, I had a rather alarming conversation midweek:

Me: I'm still deciding on my second dish.
Kim: I thought you were going to make some sort of flat bread.
Me: ........

Now, I typically don't commit to bring bread to gatherings. Like the title says, I'm lazy. It's entirely possible I did in this instance, since the last gathering included lots and lots of sangria.

I was going to flake and just bring the raita when I remembered about Five Minute Artisan Bread. Five Minute Artisan Bread is my secret bread weapon that makes me look like one of those people who knead things and monitor rising times and stuff like that. I get tons of compliments when I bring one of their breads, but they are dead easy.

A quick google search confirmed that you can use Five Minute Artisan to make naan. Naan is an Indian flatbread that is very similar to pita bread.

I made a batch of the master dough, and let it cool its heels in the fridge for a few hours. Then, I pulled out peach-sized bits, and rolled them about 1/4" thick, using lots of flour to keep things from sticking. After a few minutes in a hot pan, they were nicely browned and ready to go.


  • 1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and cubed
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coriander
  • 2 tablespoons plain yogurt
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro

If you are using whole coriander and cumin seeds, toss them in the coffee grinder and make into a powder. Mix all ingredients together. Chill overnight.