Easy Peasy 2-Ingredient Fudge (and Day 3 of 7+ Giveaways)

December 16, 2013 in Family, Food by Beth Woolsey

Reposted from December 2012 because Christmas is almost upon us, and I don’t know about you, but I need something to be ridiculously simple right now.

Do you already know about this fudge recipe? Do you? Because, if so, you should not have been keeping it to yourself all these years. I cannot even believe the amount of time I spent standing over a stove waiting for marshmallows to melt, you guys. That’s time I’ll never get back.

OK, here’s the deal. This recipe was originally created by Eagle Brand or Kraft or some company like that. I don’t know for sure; the internet’s a murky pit of unconfirmed rumors. All I can tell you is that my mom-in-law let me in on the Great Fudge Secret after I told her I didn’t believe she made her fudge in less than 10 minutes of hands-on time.

“Impossible!” I said. “Everyone knows the major ingredients in fudge are time and danger, stirring pots of bubbling fat and boiling sugar over fire while dozens of tiny children play with balls and Legos and Hot Wheels underfoot. It’s tradition, Judy. Practically one of the doctrines of the Christian faith.”

And Judy said, “Nuh uh.” (Which is a total lie. My mom-in-law has never, to my knowledge, said “nuh uh” because she’s classy. But she meant “nuh uh” in her heart.)

And I said, “Prove it.”

And then she did.

Now, I’ve looked online for this recipe because I was just going to link you to it on Facebook — you know, a quick “hey, check this out” — but every one I found makes this harder on you than necessary. And can I just say? We’re moms. We do not always have time for double boilers or myriad ingredients. We need some things, sometimes, to just be easy, and since that easy thing apparently can’t be communication with our husbands or acquiring self-raising children, I give you:

Easy Peasy 2-Ingredient Fudge

Here’s what you need:

    • 3 cups (510 g) chocolate chips
    • 14 oz (396 g) sweetened condensed milk

And here are some optional ingredients (select some or none but not all ’cause ew) :

    • 1 T. vanilla
    • Nuts
    • Crushed candy canes
    • 1 T. booze, like bourbon or rum or peppermint schnapps
    • Whatever sounds delicious

Step 1: Combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk into a microwave-safe bowl.

Step 2: Microwave until chocolate chips are melted. I microwave on high for one minute, stir, microwave on high for 30 seconds, and stir. When it all stirs smoothly together, it’s done.

If you want to add other ingredients, now’s your chance. Feel free to throw in vanilla, peppermint oil (see below), nuts, candy cane bits, sprinkles or booze. Check your cupboards and add whatever looks yummy. One note on liquids, though… don’t add more than 1 tablespoon of those, ’cause you don’t want to change the consistency of the fudge too much and prevent it from setting. Serve the fudge with a sidecar of bourbon, is what I’m saying.

Step 3: Pour into a greased 9×9 pan. Embellish if you must.

What do you want me to say about this? I was feeling very Better Homes and Gardens today. Or Family Fun magazine. It happens sometimes, and then I try to love myself and not feel ashamed. Kind of like when I secretly think that Snuggies look awesome.

Let it set in the fridge for one hour.

Step 4:

Cut and serve.

And that’s it, folks. The easiest peasiest fudge on the planet.

Enjoy!

……….

Easy Peasy 2-Ingredient Fudge:
the faster, more boring directions

  1. Combine 3 cups (510 g) chocolate chips and 14 oz (396 g) sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave ’til melty (1-2 minutes) and stir ’til smooth. Add other ingredients if you insist on making this complicated.
  3. Pour into a greased 9×9 dish. Let it set for 1 hour in the fridge.
  4. Cut and serve.

……….

Today is Day 3 of 7(+) Giveaways!

I invited the 5 Kids Blog advertisers (see the column to your right) to join me for 7 (or more!) days of giveaways. CHECK BACK for a NEW GIVEAWAY EVERY DAY.

DSCN4111Today, Aliesha of Aliesha’s Oils is giving away a bottle of doTerra Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade Essential Peppermint Oil.

Peppermint oil is used for headache, fever, heartburn, varicose veins, bad breath, and nausea, and it’s completely safe to take while pregnant.

It’s also ideal for cooking; just add a couple drops to your favorite fudge recipe and VOILA! Mint fudge! 

This giveaway is now closed. Congratulations, Tina!

TO ENTER: Leave a comment on this blog post by 11:59pm (Pacific Time) on Tuesday, December 17th. One entry per person, please. A winner will be selected using a random number generator and posted on Wednesday.

This giveaway is open to international participants. International shipping provided by me.

Note: The 5 Kids Blog advertisers provided no additional compensation for these giveaways. Aliesha is paying for the cost of the giveaway and U.S. shipping. She paid me for her ad only, and this just seemed like a fun way to work together for your benefit. OK? OK.

……….

Do tell, friends: what’s your go-to recipe during the holidays? The food you always make because you can count on it. Or the food your family insists on having. Is it an elaborate Beef Wellington? Or Kraft Mac & Cheese? Your grandma’s famous apple strudel? Or Breyer’s ice cream straight from the carton? We’re not judgers. You can tell us. And you can link us up to recipes, too!

If you’re in the market for other simple, delicious recipes, check these out:

  1. Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Cinnamon Rolls — yep, from scratch to table in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Like a Christmas miracle.
  2. Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Bread
  3. Super Duper Uber Cheater Pants Cookies
  4. Easy Peasy Apple Cake – or substitute other fruit. A fun, quick holiday treat.
  5. Or, for the full list of Five Kids Blog Recipes, click here.

Easy Peasy One-Pan Sausage Cashew Stuffing

November 21, 2013 in Beth, Family, Food, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Turkey Day for us Yanks is one week away, and counting. For some of you, that means fine-tuning your menu, grabbing a few last-minute items at grocery store, and spending the weekend blissfully rolling pie crusts on your immaculate marble slabs (they keep the butter colder, I hear) while your children decorate the house with all the leaves you so diligently gathered and pressed in October when they were at the peak of their fall colors and not, you know, rotting brown goo like the leaves in my gutter. All of you who are living that dream, please say so; I mean it very sincerely when I say I want to live vicariously through you, because there’s no way my weekend’s gonna go down like that.

Instead, I sat down last night and wrote an email to my family, fine-tuning (read: correcting) the menu my cousin sent us last week. It’s not that Leslie didn’t mean well. She was thoughtful and organized, helpful and funny, and she remembered almost everything. But she’s – and I know those of you with families can probably identify with family members like this – broken.

Is that harsh?

I don’t mean it that way.

It’s just I think sometimes we need to be willing to speak out about what’s OK and what’s Not OK so certain behaviors don’t perpetuate themselves and so we don’t silently condone things that Aren’t Right.

Things like not including any desserts in the Thanksgiving menu, Leslie.

Seriously.

I’ll let that sink in for a moment.

She didn’t include any desserts in the Thanksgiving menu.

None.

Zero.

Zilch.

She didn’t even think about desserts.

Because she doesn’t like desserts, and so desserts don’t occur to her.

Ever.

And, even though Leslie is one of my very best friends, I think it’s time to publicly acknowledge that there are limits to our friendship and there always will be until she can overcome this blind spot.

Also, she didn’t assign anyone to be in charge of beer.

🙁

I know. It makes me sad, too.

So thank goodness I corrected the menu, right?? I put myself in charge of beer, so please don’t worry about our Thanksgiving; we’re going to be fine. And then I assigned Cake and Pies and Fudge to family members. And then Extra Fudge to my mom who wrote me back suggesting she also bring Extra Extra Fudge, because she’s worried we won’t have enough after she’s done “straightening all the edges” in the pan.

So here we sit, with Turkey Day almost upon us, and I plan to spend the weekend scrambling and scrubbing and buying and baking and getting only 63% of All That Must Be Done done. And that’s OK. That’s fine. That’s part of it. Because it turns out that when I’ve stopped and when I’ve sighed and when I’ve succumbed to my humanity, grace will come and fill the other 37%, and that’s when giving thanks, the kind that comes from the heart, will truly begin.

But just in case you, like me, are trying to cram Too Much AWESOME into Too Little Time, I thought I would offer you another Easy Peasy recipe, like our Easy Peasy Homemade Cinnamon Rolls and our Two Ingredient Fudge, which offer ALL of the deliciousness and cut the work time in half. Or quarters. Or eighths when we’re really lucky.

Today’s recipe is:

photo 1 (3)

Easy Peasy One-Pan Sausage Cashew Stuffing
Or Sausage Cashew Dressing since we’re not stuffing it anywhere.
Although you certainly may stuff it anywhere you like.

Alrighty then.

Sausage Cashew Stuffing!

I love this recipe because it’s delicious, EASY, doesn’t dirty more than 1 pan, and it requires a maximum 20 minutes of hands-on time + another 20 minutes in the oven. For me, that equals a Thanksgiving WIN, bigtime.

Here’s what you need:

photo 1

  • 2 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 1 teaspoon each of thyme, sage and garlic salt
  • 1 pound breakfast sausage (make sure it’s spiced as breakfast sausage… I know this seems weird, but I’m telling you, it’s a major reason this recipe works)
  • 1 small loaf of bread, cut in 1-inch chunks, or a baguette cut in rounds, which my grocery store calls “party bread” ’cause WOOHOO! PARTY BREAD!
  • 1/2 cup roasted, salted cashews
  • 2/3 cup broth

And here’s what you do:

Step One: Preheat your oven to 375F.

Step Two: Pan fry veggies, spices and sausage.

photo 4In a pan that’s safe for stove-top and oven, add 1 Tablespoon olive oil, diced onion and celery, all spices and breakfast sausage. Cook over medium-high heat on the stove-top until the sausage is cooked through and the ingredients are starting to brown.

Preferably, like all my recipes, you will do this in an ugly nightshirt, or, alternatively, with skinny jeans that are entirely too skinny which you found on your bathroom floor and threw on for “just a minute” in the morning underneath your nightie so you might be more appropriately clothed to run downstairs and tell the wild banshees God gave you for children to STOP SCREECHING LIKE THAT and OH MY WORD and SERIOUSLY, YOU GUYS? and then, as always, ended up wearing the rest of the day. Hypothetically speaking.

photo 3For the pan, you might want to use a beautiful, enameled cast iron number like this one that sits on your shelf gathering dust. OR you can use the trusty 12″ cast iron skillet you got from your grandfather because, even though it doesn’t make for the prettiest website pictures, it makes you happy.

…..

Step Three: Add bread, broth, and mix it all together. Sprinkle cashews.

photo 3 (2)photo 4 (2)

Once your veggies, sausage and spices are all nicely browned (or, like me, they’re a tiny bit brown and you’re too impatient to wait for them to be really brown ’cause it’s going to finish cooking in the oven anyway and you can always cheat by hitting it with the broiler at the end), add the bread and the broth and mix it together well.

Psst… I know those little croutons are more popular to use for this than bread is, but I don’t like how they fall apart into mush. Not a fan. I like chunks of bread that are big enough to soak up all the pan juices and flavors without falling apart, making it more like a hot panzanella, or Thanksgiving-flavored Italian bread salad, than traditional Thanksgiving stuffing. You can always add more broth for more of a bread pudding consistency or less broth for a crispier result.

Finally, sprinkle those cashews over the top, drizzle it with the remaining 1 Tablespoon of olive oil, and taste test to be sure you don’t need to add any more salt. 

Step Four: Bake in the oven at 375F for 20 minutes.

And then, if you like yours crispy on top and warm and soft in the middle, put it under the broiler for 3 minutes.

photo (84)

Step Five: Eat.

photo 1 (3)

Mmmm.

Serve it with a salad, and this makes a fantastic stand-alone meal, as well. I might have recently had it for breakfast, lunch and dinner, for example. In my nightie. With skinny jeans.

The End

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Fellow Americans, what are you doing for Thanksgiving?
What’s your favorite Thanksgiving food?
Folks From Other Countries, do you just wish we’d shut up already about this holiday? (I’m not sure I’m done talking about it, so say no!)
And what is your favorite holiday food?

Also, if you have an Easy Peasy, delicious, time saving, go-to recipe, I want to hear it, STAT. Feel free to link us up!

And you can find all the Five Kids recipes here.

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Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Scones

August 7, 2013 in Family, Food, Funny by Beth Woolsey

BruceandBrendaIt’s time for another Easy Peasy FAST Homemade recipe, and since my friends Bruce and Brenda are currently running a Kickstarter campaign to open an artisan bakery in our home town, I thought this would be the PERFECT time to sucker them out of one of their top-secret recipes. And… bwahahaha… my evil plan worked!

The Pacific Northwest is famous for a few things. Gorgeous evergreens. Pristine mountain lakes. See-through air. A little rain here and there. Weird weirdos who are weird. Blackberries. And scones. In other words, our family loves it here.

Traditionally in these parts, scones are county fair food, served piping hot with blackberry or raspberry jam. And, let me just say… YUM.

photo 13

I’ve made scones before, usually from the Fisher Fair Scone mix or, in a pinch, from Bisquick, ’cause that’s how I roll with all these kids. Imagine my surprise, then, when Brenda sent me this recipe which took exactly the same amount of time to make scones from scratch, for a total mixing and baking time of 25 minutes. To be honest, I felt a little stupid for using a mix all these years, but that works out well because I asked Bruce and Brenda for a Stupid Easy recipe, and I was planning to publicly malign them for only sending an easy one, but now I know they had faith I’d deliver the stupid part myself. (Psst… they didn’t. They’re nice people.)

This morning, because I care about you and I’m willing to sacrifice myself for the greater good, I made scones. The kids complained, but I carried on. Of course, the kids were complaining about each other and not about the scones, but I say whatever we do while kids complain earns us extra bonus parenting points. Which can be traded for nothing except feeling superior, but sometimes feeling superior is worth it, right? Yes, right.

Anyway. Here for your cooking pleasure are my directions for making scones. Brenda’s directions differ slightly in that they are concise, coherent, and don’t contain ridiculous asides about what to wear while baking, so I’ve offered hers at the bottom of this post in case any of you like things that make sense.

Here we go!

……….

photo 11

Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Scones
Recipe by Brenda of Newberg Bakery
Superfluousness by Me

photo 1

Step 1: Scones should always be made while wearing your pajamas. Preferably not attractive pajamas. We’re talking comfort here, not beauty. For example, I like to wear the gray, shapeless University of Washington t-shirt I stole from my dad’s dresser in 1991. The neck is frayed. The color is terrible. There are tiny holes everywhere. And this baby is as soft as Egyptian cotton. Probably. I’ve never felt Egyptian cotton, but I hear it’s soft, man.

You, of course, can wear whatever grody pajamas you want. Sweats or yoga pants are usually a good choice, especially when the inner thighs have worn through. And it’s obviously better if you plan ahead and don’t change out of your pajamas from the night before, especially if you’re making scones for dinner.

P.S. The 1980’s banana-clipped high pony tail is optional but an excellent way to dress up your scone-making ensemble. Highly recommend.

photo 2Step 2: Assemble ingredients.

You’ll need:

  • 2 c. flour
  • 3 Tbsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 6 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/2 c. milk

Step 3: Mix the dry ingredients and cut in the butter.

I dumped the first 4 things in a bowl and added softened butter. I think you’re supposed to use cold, hard butter; the kind that had a rough childhood and yells at kids to stay off his lawn. But softened butter is way easier to manage. This is probably why my pie crusts suck, but never mind that; softened butter worked fine for these scones and I didn’t have to put up with all the grumbling from the cold, hard butter.

photo 3photo 4For those of you who didn’t grow up with a mama who taught you these things, here’s how you cut in butter:

You literally cut the butter into the dry mix. Using 2 knives like scissors, one in each hand, cut back and forth through the bowl until the butter and flour form small pea-sized bits. Ta da! Success!

Note: I used salted butter because I think for myself and you can’t tell me what to do. (Also, I really desperately didn’t want to take 1,000 kids to the grocery store for unsalted butter, which I didn’t have.)

Step 4: Add stuff if you want. Brenda recommends 1/2 c. of inclusions like chocolate chips or fresh fruit or white chocolate chips with dried cranberries. That last is one of my favorites. I’m also a huge fan of my sister-in-law’s frosted lemon scones, which she manages to make gluten-free, dairy-free and egg-free because she’s a practitioner of black magic, but I don’t know what all she uses for flavoring other than eye of newt, so I’ll have to figure out a way to bribe her to let us in on her lemon scone secrets another time.

Might I also recommend peach cinnamon scones, chocolate chip scones drizzled with cinnamon honey, candied orange and macadamia nut scones, blackberry lime scones (tiny bit of lime juice + lime rind + fresh blackberries), and/or vanilla scones coated in orange vanilla icing? Yeah. Gonna have to go make more scones right now.

As for me, I made plain scones. I know… what? But seriously, there’s something amazing about the simple original with blackberry jam. They were calling my name, and who am I not to listen to their siren song?

Step 5: Stir in the milk. 

Brenda said, “If you need more, add just a bit at a time so as to not make them too sticky to handle.” I needed ~3 Tbsp. more milk than the 1/2 c. the recipe calls for.

photo 5The very best part about stirring in the milk is the fact that you need to be sure not to stir too much. Stop stirring when the dough comes together into a slightly crumbly ball. The less you stir, the lighter and fluffier the scones. So basically, the lazier you are, the better this recipe works. Or, put another way, I’m making scones for dinner for the rest of my life.

Step 6: Shape the scones.

photo 8Brenda recommends dusting your counter top or cutting board with flour and using that as a surface for shaping your scones. I bypass that entirely because I have a 20-year-old Pampered Chef baking stone that’s so seasoned (read: ugly and wonderful and absolutely nothing sticks to it) that I don’t need a separate surface. I just shape ’em on the place where I’m going to bake ’em.

Shape your dough into a ball and press it down. Then cut scones into 8 equal wedges and place them, separated, on your baking sheet or stone.

photo 10

Step 7: Bake.

Bake your scones in a preheated 425 degree oven for 18 minutes. Mine were done at 17, so start checking after 15 minutes or so. You’ll know they’re done when they’re golden brown and you can’t stand it; you have to eat them right now.

Step 8: Pull them out and eat them hot.

Yum. Also, yum.

This, in my humble but completely correct opinion, is the Ultimate Pacific Northwest Breakfast. Hot coffee, fresh scones, bowl of blackberries.

photo 12

Drizzle honey liberally and this = perfection.

……….

Scones:
Brenda’s Real Recipe and Directions

Ingredients:
2 c. flour
3 T. sugar
2 t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
6 T. unsalted butter
1/2 c. milk

Mix the dry ingredients. Cut in the butter.

Add 1/2 c. of inclusions if desired: 
Chocolate chips
White chocolate and dried cranberries
Toasted nuts
Fresh fruit
Etc.

Stir in the milk. If you need more, add just a bit at a time so as to not make them too sticky to handle.

Dust board/counter top with flour. Shape dough into a ball. You can either press it down into a circle and cut into halves, then quarters, then 8ths or you can cut the ball in half and make two portions of a total of 16 smaller scones.

Place on baking sheet. Bake in preheated oven at 425 degrees for 18 or so minutes.

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NewbergBakery

You can check out the Newberg Bakery Kickstarter campaign here!
They’re almost 75% funded with 7 days to go.
Every donation of any size helps.

……….

P.S. Guess what my kids were doing while I was making scones?

Did you guess playing nicely in the backyard where I sent them after all of the complaining?

Why, yes! You’re right! That’s exactly where they were.

Except not in our backyard.

Nope.

photo 3 (51)My 6-year-old boy children and their 6-year-old boy cousin scaled the fence to the neighbors’ yard to hang out with their (granted, super adorable) teenage girls.

Yes, that’s right. Because that’s practically the same thing as, “Go play in the backyard.” I mean, I didn’t specify which backyard was “the,” now, did I?

And our neighbor, being the best neighbor in the history of the world — never, ever cold, hard butter — and shockingly never incensed by the shenanigans of my children or their irresponsible mother or the heinousness of our house/yardkeeping skills, rewarded the littles with Popsicles.  And texted me pictorial evidence from her phone.

photo 4 (31)

I’m telling you; it takes a Village. Of course, I’m not sure what our Village is trying to teach our kids, but we have Popsicles and scones, so who cares?

………

Easy Peasy 2-Ingredient Fudge

December 12, 2012 in Family, Food, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Do you already know about this fudge recipe? Do you? Because, if so, you should not have been keeping it to yourself all these years. I cannot believe the amount of time I spent standing over a stove waiting for marshmallows to melt, you guys. That’s time I’ll never get back.

OK, here’s the deal. This recipe was originally created by Eagle Brand or Kraft or some company like that. I don’t know for sure; the internet’s a murky pit of unconfirmed rumors.  All I can tell you is that my mom-in-law let me in on the Great Fudge Secret after I told her I didn’t believe she made her fudge in less than 10 minutes of hands-on time.

“Impossible!” I said. “Everyone knows the major ingredients in fudge are time and danger, stirring pots of bubbling fat and boiling sugar over fire while dozens of tiny children play with balls and Legos and Hot Wheels underfoot. It’s tradition, Judy. Practically one of the doctrines of the Christian faith.”

And Judy said, “Nuh uh.” (Which is a total lie. My mom-in-law has never, to my knowledge, said “nuh uh” because she’s classy. But she meant “nuh uh” in her heart.)

And I said, “Prove it.”

And then she did.

Now, I’ve looked online for this recipe because I was just going to link you to it on Facebook — you know, a quick “hey, check this out” — but every one I found makes this harder on you than necessary. And can I just say? We’re moms. We do not always have time for double boilers or myriad ingredients. We need some things, sometimes, to just be easy, and since that easy thing apparently can’t be communication with our husbands or acquiring self-raising children, I give you:

Easy Peasy 2-Ingredient Fudge

Here’s what you need:

    • 3 cups (510 g) chocolate chips
    • 14 oz (396 g) sweetened condensed milk

And here are some optional ingredients (select some or none but not all ’cause ew) :

    • 1 T. vanilla
    • Nuts
    • Crushed candy canes
    • 1 T. booze, like bourbon or rum or peppermint schnapps
    • Whatever sounds delicious

Step 1: Combine chocolate chips and sweetened condensed milk into a microwave-safe bowl.

Step 2: Microwave until chocolate chips are melted. I microwave on high for one minute, stir, microwave on high for 30 seconds, and stir. When it all stirs smoothly together, it’s done.

If you want to add other ingredients, now’s your chance. Feel free to throw in vanilla, nuts, candy cane bits, sprinkles or booze. Check your cupboards and add whatever looks yummy. One note on liquids, though… don’t add more than 1 tablespoon of those, ’cause you don’t want to change the consistency of the fudge too much and prevent it from setting. Serve the fudge with a sidecar of bourbon, is what I’m saying.

Step 3: Pour into a greased 9×9 pan. Embellish if you must.

What do you want me to say about this? I was feeling very Better Homes and Gardens today. Or Family Fun magazine. It happens sometimes, and then I try to love myself and not feel ashamed. Kind of like when I secretly think that Snuggies look awesome.

Let it set in the fridge for one hour.

Step 4:

Cut and serve.

And that’s it, folks. The easiest peasiest fudge on the planet.

Enjoy!

……….

Easy Peasy 2-Ingredient Fudge:
the faster, more boring directions

  1. Combine 3 cups (510 g) chocolate chips and 14 oz (396 g) sweetened condensed milk in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave ’til melty (1-2 minutes) and stir ’til smooth. Add other ingredients if you insist on making this complicated.
  3. Pour into a greased 9×9 dish. Let it set for 1 hour in the fridge.
  4. Cut and serve.

……….

If you’re in the market for other simple, delicious recipes? Check these out:

  1. Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Cinnamon Rolls — yep, from scratch to table in 1 hour and 15 minutes. Like a Christmas miracle.
  2. Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Bread
  3. Super Duper Uber Cheater Pants Cookies
  4. Easy Peasy Apple Cake – or substitute other fruit. A fun, quick holiday treat.
  5. Or, for the full list of Five Kids Blog Recipes, click here.

………

AND if you have an easy peasy go-to recipe that works for your family, I would LOVE to hear it. Please add it to the comments below or send me a message via Facebook or email.

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UPDATED: The Very Best Side Dish

November 19, 2012 in Family, Food, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Creamed Onions:
the very best side dish

Now, when I say creamed onions are the very best side dish, I don’t want to take away from your family traditions by somehow implying that ours are better than yours.

That’s not my point at all.

In fact, I think blending family traditions is what this season’s all about. I bring something from my family. You bring something from yours. Together, we have something even better than the past.

Right? Right.

Like, for example, I bring creamed onions.

And my dad-in-law brings a gas mask.

And together we have something even better than before.

In conclusion,

Happy Thanksgiving, friends!

And remember. No matter how you feel about your cooking, if no one shows up with gas mask this Thanksgiving, you’re steps ahead of me.

………

P.S. I know I couldn’t possibly look more awful in that picture, circa 2003. It was our first holiday season after we jumped from one kid to three. My hair. My ratty sweatshirt and jeans at dinner. My oh-dear-lord, I have to try to smile? look.

Which is all why this picture is SUCH A RELIEF! ‘Cause it proves I really was as strung out as I thought I was. I wasn’t crazy. I haven’t been exaggerating. I was completely exhausted. Good job, Mama Me, for showing up dressed

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P.P.S. I should note for safety reasons that my dad, from whose family the creamed onions tradition hails, was less-than-pleased with my dad-in-law’s choice of facewear. My dad said, “Dave. Not smart. You can aspirate your own vomit wearing one of those things at the dinner table. Here’s my suggested alternative.”

Our dads, you guys. Our dads are always so very helpful.

………

P.P.P.S. What happens at your house on Turkey Day? Any must-haves? Any must-not-haves? I mean, although my father-in-law does have a long-standing doctrinal position against onions, he was (mostly) kidding with the gas mask. On the other hand, there was the year I had to talk a friend’s VERY upset mama down from a mashed potato ledge because we put Yukon Gold potato peels in ’em. There are some traditions you just don’t mess with, folks. Lesson learned.

……….

UPDATED:

By popular request (and because I couldn’t resist making your sister cry, Jessica), here’s the…

Recipe for Creamed Onions

Step 1: Buy the right kind of onions. They’re small and they come in a jar, like this.

They’re very hard to find. Last time my dad found them, he bought two cases. We are not kidding around about these. I suspect that they’re hard to find because they’re mostly gross and therefore hard to sell. However, that doesn’t keep me from eating buckets every holiday. What can I say? I have a strong affinity for gross.

If you can’t find these, you can use petite frozen onions, but then you should probably roast them or sauté them or something so they’re not quite so oniony. (The water in which the jarred onions are packed cuts down on that.)

Step 2: Flip open the Better Homes & Gardens cookbook your mom-in-law gave you for your wedding and find the White Sauce recipe. Make it without the pepper and salt. Unless you want to make it with the pepper and salt.

Be stunned that you’re instructed to “add milk all at once.” Next, wonder if you’ve been making white sauce wrong for years, adding a teaspoon of milk at a time and stirring thoroughly after every addition to avoid lumps. Finally, shrug your shoulders and do whatever works.

Step 3: When white sauce is bubbling, add at least a cup of shredded cheddar cheese. More if you can cram it in there. Stir ’til smooth.

Step 4: Combine drained onions and cheese sauce in a greased casserole dish.

And top with another handful of cheese.

Really, you’re just burying onions in cheese. It’s what makes this whole thing OK.

Step 5: Bake at 350 F for 45 minutes. Or at 375 F for 30 minutes. Or at any temperature you want since you’re shoving it in the oven with turkey and rolls and pies and sweet potato casserole and hoping it works out OK. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as it comes out of the oven bubbling and with a crispy, oily, golden cheesy top.

Step 6: Serve hot. Gas masks optional.

YUM!

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Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Bread

October 27, 2012 in Beth, Family by Beth Woolsey

There are places in my house that require my attention.

My little boys’ room, for example, is just begging for some quality time.

So I had to really put on my thinking cap to find a way — any way at all — to avoid the mess.

And that’s where homemade bread comes in. The perfect solution! Fall is in the air. Baking must be done. OK, so maybe we can’t actually walk in our house without tripping, but it finally smells terrific around here, and I think we can all agree that’s a stunning victory.

In case you need a way to avoid the mess, too, I’ll share the bread recipe with you here, adapted from my Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Cinnamon Rolls. Adaption and repeating successes wherever and whenever possible are some of the best keys to raising millions of children.

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Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Bread
or Focaccia or Pizza or Rolls – you pick!

 Here’s what you’ll need for the dough:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cups flour

Step 1: Dissolve 1 tablespoon of sugar in 2 cups of warm water. You can tell the water’s the right temperature if you’d stick a baby in it. (Please note: sticking an actual baby in water you’re going to use for bread is generally frowned upon in the culinary community. Make sure no one’s looking is what I’m saying.)

Step 2: After the baby’s out of the water, sprinkle 1 tablespoon of active dry yeast on top. Let it sit for 5 minutes until it gets foamy and stinky. There’s another baby joke here, but I’m going to rise above it. (Rise above it. Yeast. Bread rising. Get it? Har har.) (Sorry.)

Step 3: Dump remaining ingredients (5 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil) into a mixer with a bread hook.* Add the yeasty sugar water to the bowl and mix until it’s all blended into a lump.

*If you don’t have a mixer or are without a bread hook, just dump all of this into a bowl and mix it by hand. No need for fancy equipment. Just blend it all up ’til it pulls like this.

Step 4: Dump your dough lump into an oiled bowl.

 Cover with a towel, and set it in a warm spot to rise for 20 minutes.

It’s critical at this stage to distract yourself by reading a book or skimming a magazine or refereeing a fight between your children; anything to keep your mind off of cleaning your boys’ room. If you’re not very, very careful, you might try to convince yourself that cleaning for just a few minutes couldn’t hurt, but we all know where that thinking gets us, right? To more cleaning. And, friends? I don’t want that for any of us. Trust me on this. Learn from my poor choices. Cleaning begets cleaning begets cleaning. Stop the madness, mamas. WE CAN OVERCOME.

Step 5: Squish your dough into an oiled pan. You can choose: 2 9×13 casserole dishes OR 2 large cast iron skillets for focaccia bread. Or you can make 2 loaves using bread pans. Or 2 rounded loaves on baking stones. Or lots of little rounds for rolls. That’s probably what I love most about this recipe. Versatility!

This time, I made one focaccia loaf and one round bread loaf. I squished my focaccia into a cast iron skillet thusly.

And I drizzled it with olive oil.

For my round loaf (pictured finished here),

I punched down the other half of the dough, made it into a sphere, and put it in another oiled cast iron skillet.

Step 6: Cover and let rise 10 minutes.

Step 7: Add toppings if you like. For focaccia, I suggest 1/2 cup of shredded cheese or thinly sliced onions or 1 tablespoon of the herb-of-your-choice (fresh basil? yum!). I put leeks on 1/2 of our focaccia this time. Highly recommend!

Step 8: Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes until golden brown.

And oh, man. Is there anything better than fresh, homemade, just-out-of-the-oven bread?

Sure, we may live in squalor, but we’re eating fresh, homemade bread while we do it. I say those things cancel each other out, don’t you?

In fact, the only real downside to this entire plan is the fact that this bread only takes an hour from start to finish. Which means I’m going to have to find a lot more baking to do.

……….

Easy Peasy FAST Homemade Bread
Ingredients and Directions: The Concise, Boring Version

Dough:

  • 2 cups warm water
  • 1 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp active dry yeast
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil
  • 5 cups flour

Directions:

  1. Dissolve 1 tablespoon sugar in 2 cups warm water.
  2. Sprinkle yeast on top of sugar-water and let sit for 5 minutes ’til yeast is foaming.
  3. Dump remaining ingredients (5 cups flour, 1 1/2 teaspoons salt, 2 tablespoons olive oil) in a mixer. Add the yeasty sugar water. Mix with a dough hook ’til everything is combined and sticky.
  4. Put sticky dough into an oiled bowl. Cover. Let rise 20 minutes.
  5. Squash dough into oiled pans: choose 2 9×13 casserole dishes OR 2 large cast iron skillets for focaccia bread. You can make 2 loaves using bread pans. Or 2 rounded loaves on baking stones. Or lots of little rounds for rolls.
  6. Let rise 10 minutes.
  7. Consider adding toppings like:
    • 1/2 cup shredded cheese
    • 1 Tbsp herbs
    • 1 Tbsp olive oil and 1 tsp crunchy, coarse-ground salt
    • Thin-sliced leeks, onions, or mushrooms
  8. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 20 minutes until golden.

Eat it hot! Or at room temperature. Or cold. Whatever floats your boat.

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Easy Peasy Apple Cake

September 14, 2012 in Beth, Family, Food, Funny by Beth Woolsey

Easy Peasy Apple Cake
…….

It feels like my whole little world is ripe right now, as the blackberry season ends, the tomatoes grow fat, and the apples start to drop. We’re full swing into our back-to-school madness, and this mama and her kids want to drop, too, heavy with soaking up all of September’s changes and willing to lay on the hard earth and rot for a bit if it means we can rest.

The weekend is almost upon us, and I’m greeting it with both relief and a driving need to bake. Or can. Or freeze. Or cure meat. Anything to stock the pantry and the root cellar for the hard freeze of winter. Nevermind that I don’t have a root cellar and that our part of Oregon rarely freezes hard at all. Apparently, this is the time of year Mama Me must hunker down and gather my chickies into my nest despite the fact they’ll immediately try to peck each other’s eyes out; honest to God, as long as I can bake something with cinnamon or nutmeg or pumpkin spice, I do not care.

I’m sitting right now at my dusty patio table watching the rusty shovels lie impotently against the fence, which we didn’t stain for the tenth year in a row. The lawn mower sits half on and half off the grass, and two chairs are upended, catawampus, the last remnants of summer forts. The first leaves are starting to change even though it still smells like summer, and the fall breeze rustling in trees is making me nervous because it sounds just like a twenty-pound bag of rice spilling on the kitchen floor.

These are the sights and sounds and feelings at the beginning of fall, and so I must bake. I don’t know why or how that makes sense, only that it does.

This weekend, I’m baking apple cake. My kind of apple cake. The kind that’s easy peasy. The kind that’s possible with five kids underfoot. The kind that’s pretty. And rustic. And works for breakfast or dessert. Or lunch or coffee. Or second breakfast or afternoon snack. With apples and cinnamon delivering an awesome performance on center stage. There’s really nothing more I can ask of a cake. Unless it can bring me a beer.

And so, without further ado, I present to you…

Easy Peasy Apple Cake
…….

First, cream together 1 cup of sugar and 1/2 cup of soft butter.

I highly recommend hiring a five-year-old boy for this step. They’re vigorous mixers and they’ll work for licking the bowl. If you don’t have a five-year-old boy of your own, I’ll bet you can find a mama who’ll loan you hers for cheap. Perhaps for the low, low price of keeping him overnight.

Next, add two eggs.

Then, add 1 T. vanilla, 1/2 t. salt, 1 t. cinnamon, 1/2 t. baking powder, and 1 c. flour.

And by 1 T. vanilla, I mean a giant splash or one glug. I’ve never measured vanilla in my life. Also, don’t forget to leave out the salt. I do that every time, and it doesn’t seem to matter. This is art, not science. Well, technically it’s chemistry but it tastes like home and hearth and happiness so I’m sticking with art.

Gently, barely mix it all together and pour the batter into a greased pan. I use a cast iron skillet ’cause it’s somehow perfect for fall, but you can use a 9×9 glass casserole dish or a pie pan… knock yourself out.

Cut and layer apples for the top. You can go for pretty or just pile fruit on that thing. The batter’s gonna grow over it, anyway, so it won’t matter in the end. There’s just something about fall that rewires my brain and make me fan my fruit like this:

I can’t help it.

Then sprinkle the top with cinnamon sugar.

And throw on some pats of butter.

Just for giggles, you know.

And pop that pan of Ah, it’s fall! in the 350′ oven for 30 minutes. Or longer. Up to 40 minutes, perhaps. You pick. I slightly underbake mine (and broil the top for 2-3 minutes to crisp it up) because I leave it in the skillet — less to wash when the baking pan’s the serving pan — so my lower baking time allows it to keep cooking for a while after I pull it from the oven.

Serve warm. Or cold. Or lukewarm. With whipped cream. Or ice cream. Or all by itself.

And then pass out for a while.

Enjoy!

…….

Easy apple garnish, anyone?

If you cut an apple in the middle, instead of top-down,

…there’s a star inside. It’s fun. It’s easy. It’s more likely kids’ll eat their apples. Win/win/win.

…….

And, hey! This recipe is also good for other fall fruit. Like plums.

Mmmmm…

…….

So.

Easy Peasy Apple Cake:
the short, boring directions 

Cream together:
1 c.sugar
1/2 c. soft butter

Gently mix in:
2 eggs
1 T. vanilla
1/2 t. salt
1 t. cinnamon
1/2 t. baking powder
1 c. flour

Pour batter into an greased pan.

Top with:
2 c. sliced fruit
2 T. cinnamon sugar

Bake: 350′ for 30 minutes

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What’s your favorite, easy way to use fall fruit? Do tell! Add links if you’ve got ’em. I’m always on the lookout for new, simple, delicious recipes.

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