An Impersonator in Our Garden

It’s been so long since I posted something that I actually forgot how to do it.  Thank God for YouTube videos.

Lately, I’ve been harvesting rainbow Swiss chard, collard, red Russian kale, and beets from our garden.  We grew a mixed variety of beets this year.  When Kal cut into one, we were pleasantly surprised by its beautiful concentric circle pattern.  Who would have guessed beets could have layers like an onion?  We like using these fresh vegetables to make green smoothies (well, red smoothies, if we use a beet) and fresh garden salads.  Interestingly, the beet greens are supposedly more nutritious than the beet itself, packed with antioxidants and vitamins; so I’ve been using them in stir-fries and soups.

20170501 beets & greens20170505 beet concentric circles


Two great uses for yogurt whey

I’ve been making my own yogurt recently and am always left with tons of whey (like at least a half gallon!). I’ve done the online searches and been to the same web sites that give all the suggestions and tips. So far, these two uses are my favorites because they use quite a lot of whey and because the finished products are very tasty! (unlike the time I made my usual butternut squash soup and substituted the water with whey–like they suggested–and my family could tell and didn’t like it and I had to give away the leftovers to some good friends who are clearly not as picky as my brood)

The first whey-use is a crepe recipe that uses 3 cups of whey (that’s a lot!); actually, it calls for 3 cups of buttermilk but I use the whey instead. I started making this recipe because it was a good use of whey, but my kids and I actually like this recipe better than my old crepe recipe, so it’s now our family’s “go to” recipe. (What am I gonna do if I ever get tired of making yogurt and have no more free whey?)

Since I started making this recipe, I’ve started to track what I eat at MyFitnessPal, and today I put in this recipe to calculate the calories/nutrition value. I was so thrilled to learn that they’re only about 25 calories each (when I make 24 crepes from one batch).

We usually freeze the leftover crepes in batches of 6 with parchment paper in between. They keep really well in the freezer, we just take them out the night before we want to eat them and they’re almost as good as new the next morning. I like mine with a little peanut butter and banana. A likes hers the French dessert way with Nutella (and bananas if she must). K likes hers with PB and Nutella, which somewhere along the way she has started calling “peanutella”, haha!

The second great whey recipe I’ve found is a ciabatta bread. It’s HUGE. It uses 2 cups of whey. Technically the original recipe uses sweet whey, which is a byproduct of making cheese, as opposed to acid whey which is a byproduct of making yogurt, but I made it with yogurt whey, and it was soooo good as it was. (The original poster later wishes she had used her original ciabatta recipe which uses a “biga”/starter, but I didn’t have time to do that so I went with her “lesser than” recipe as posted and it was still amazing)

The dough is pretty sticky, but I just poured it out onto the floured parchment and shaped it onto itself, then scored. This is it before baking…

And this is it after baking!

I wasn’t sure if I baked it long enough, so I had to make a cut right in the middle–looked great (and smelled great too!). We had Tom’s parents over for dinner, and it was fun to serve them some fresh, homemade bread.

This bread was HUGE! I cut it in half, then served that half to 6 of us (below). At first Tom’s mom said that was way too much bread for just 6 of us, so I only filled the bread basket with about 60% of the bread. But as we were having dinner (which was a nice, big dinner with lots of other yummy foods), lo and behold, the bread basket was empty and we had to go get the rest of the bread I had cut! We enjoyed it with some meyer lemon olive oil and 15 year old balsamic vinegar that we bought up in Healdsburg at Christmastime.

A Rose By Any Other Name…

I saw those “apple rose” desserts a while ago, and it occurred to me this weekend that they’d make a great dessert for Easter since a) they’re a little more special than your typical dessert (“fancy” in fact!) and b) they’re something you can make for a smaller gathering. (Not gonna make these for 70 teens in youth group!) Okay, also, I was looking for something different since I offered to make dessert for the extended family Easter dinner, and it felt silly for me to make a cake or something that ddubs could make in her sleep! 😆

I used a combination of this recipe and this recipe. I took the pastry size and baking times from the first recipe. The second recipe I liked just for the video from Chef John, haha! I liked his humor and I thought his voice reminded me of the conductor on Dinosaur Train.

They were pretty easy to make and do present really nicely. The finished product:

A different one without the powdered sugar, before I wrestled the paper liner off it!

You might not make it for a bunch of teens, but you can teach a teen to make them! 😁

Here’s what I learned:

  • I sliced my apples too thin! The apple:pastry ratio was too low. Next time I’ll try slicing the apples a little thicker and rolling the pastry a little thinner. (I got 7 pieces out of one pastry sheet this time)
  • Mom wanted a little more tartness in the apples. Typical apples used for apple desserts like pies are granny smith, but they’d give us green roses, so I’ll have to find a tart red apple. (I used red galas since I had small ones on on hand already)
  • Despite what I thought, do NOT make the inside petals too small, otherwise the rose will come out too low in the middle, it actually looks better if you use almost the same size apples/petals from the get-go
  • The apricot preserves worked really well, not too sweet, butter was not needed.
  • Do NOT sprinkle cinnamon sugar after the rose is made, do it before you roll it all up or else you’ll get an ugly brown rose on top
  • Baking in paper cupcake liners was not so great for us, maybe if we didn’t overbake them (had to prebake at home and then reheat at D&C’s place) they might not have stuck to the pastry so badly

Overall, I’m glad we tried these and would do it again!

The hype is justified 

There’s been a lot of buzz about this butter chicken recipe in the Instant Pot world lately. I’ve made butter chicken before, but a “healthier” version (let’s just say I don’t call it butter chicken since there’s no butter in it) and on the stove. I one I usually make is a pretty good recipe, but any time you use cut up chicken thigh into bite-sized pieces, you can count on standing around prepping the meat for a while.

This new IP recipe was really so so good and so easy. You put in whole boneless skinless thighs (could prob put in with bone too) and they fall apart later, the meat is so tender. And you literally throw everything into the pot and walk away for a bit. Later you take out the chicken and immersion blend the sauce before adding the fatty stuff, but it still beats standing around the stove stirring.

My favorite things about it are how tender the chicken was and how easy it was to make. The higher-fat content than my old recipe probably contributed to its deliciousness. It’ll definitely be in the dinner rotation at our house, so I’ll have lots of opportunity to experiment with making it just a *little* bit healthier, but not too much. 😉

First time making Tri-tip!

Ok, so I am pretty proud of this hunk of meat. 

I’ve never made tri-tip before (usually hubs makes it) but there was a great sale on it at the store ($3.99!) so I decided to try it. I’m quite pleased with how it turned out! 

I used a very simple recipe found here (I used the oven method). I did not trim off the fat because I love my meat with a bit more fat for flavor (who else feels me on this??), and boy was it good.

I rounded out the meal with roasted potatoes and brussel sprouts.

Try the recipe and let me know how yours turned out!

Jumping in late with Instant Pot posts starting… now!

Okay, so I’ve had an instant pot since August 2015 (before it became an Amazon best seller). The first year I had it, I *wasn’t* super-impressed. I found one or two good meals to make, but it’s not worth keeping a big appliance for making one or two specific meals. I struggled to like it, but I kept trying to make the relationship work.

But then some time in 2016, it became a sensation, and I learned about Instant Pot Facebook groups and Instant Pot Web sites. I learned the kinds of things that work better in an Instant Pot and what things don’t.

I wish I had blogged about it all along the way, but the best thing to do is not regret and start now. So I’ll jump in and post my latest Instant Pot experiment.

Easy Smooth Pressure Cooker Flan

The recipe comes from here. I chose this recipe over others because it didn’t ask me for a vanilla bean. 😬 Also, I happened to have heavy cream on hand and this recipe used it.

It was really good! Dangerously good because now I have several in the fridge. The only thing I would change is that the caramel is a bit too much, so if possible, I’d half the caramel. (But it hardens in the ramekin so quickly, not sure I’d be able to work with half as much)

Okay, trying to keep posts short to increase the chances that I’ll keep doing it!  Good night!

Barbecue for Two

C and I decided to have a bbq together since it was Labor Day.  The only problem was, we don’t know much  about barbecuing. 😬  But that didn’t stop us!  We both hadn’t barbecued in a long time, so this was a mini adventure for us.  First, we went to the store to pick up groceries and charcoal. Oh, back up.  First, we looked up basics of charcoal barbecuing on YouTube.  Of course, the good ol’ interwebs always has the answers.  Then we walked to the stores.  I should have known that we would have too much food at the end because a.) It’s us, and b.) we decided what items to buy based on how it would look together- “Oooh!  We need some red color!  Let’s get the red bell peppers (in addition to the orange and yellow)!” We almost got blueberries because we didn’t have blue in our rainbow of barbecue items, but we figured blueberries probably wouldn’t have barbecued well. And we had them at home.


When we got home, we prepped the barbecue grill.


This is actually a super small grill.  These are not giant briquettes.  They are normal size. 😆

And the food.


Bone-in ribeye


Pork belly




Mushrooms, eggplant, red onions, bell peppers, squash, zucchini, and green onions (doesn’t it look pretty?!)


We decided to skewer by food type instead of the usual mixed skewer due to differing cook times.  We learned this from Alton Brown.

Then it was cooking time.


We even grilled a couple peaches for dessert.


These are the results!  (Three hours later!  Tiny grill!)image


Notice the small amount of pork belly above.  😧  The rest was lost in the fire. 😭😢😰


And for dessert, C made Bon Bons!  We were reminiscing about how we used to eat them as kids, so she decided to make some!  The left is almond flavored ice cream inside and the right is the coconut flavored ice cream.  The left was the first one she made when the ice cream and chocolate were at their optimal temperatures.  The right one… Was not.  That one is just sadness.  But it still tasted good!


We also had the peaches with the ice cream, as well.  We drizzled the peach with a little oil and sugary grinder thingy from Trader Joes (I never have a chance to use it so I jumped at the opportunity) and grilled it till it was softened.  Then we drizzled both with a little caramel I had in the fridge.


I would say our barbecue adventure was pretty successful!


We’ll have leftovers for days…😬