Friday, February 24, 2012


If there is one food that the whole house gets excited for, it's waffles!

Years ago Mark and I were inspired by Alton Brown of  Food Network's "Good Eats" fame to purchase a waffle iron. As Mr. Brown suggested we got a simple inexpensive model like this one. The first batch we made was this recipe from Good Eats. The waffles were good but not as light and crispy as we had hoped for. A quick internet search by Mark revealed that the secret to truly crispy waffles was corn starch. He found this recipe which I adapted and used to make this mornings waffles.

The recipe below is a doubled version and will make about 8. The waffles freeze nicely. Mark toasts the frozen waffles for a few minutes until they are warmed through and serves them on school/work day mornings. Beats the pants off store bought waffles any day!

To make you need:

1.5 Cups Flour (Whole Wheat or White Whole Wheat are especially good)
1/2 Cups Cornstarch
1 teaspoon Salt
1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
1 teaspoon Baking Powder (There are recipes that use yeast instead of chemical leavening but they require more advanced planning than waking up and deciding to make waffles)
2 Cups milk
2 Lemons worth of Zest and Juice
3/4 Cup Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs (separated)
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 Cup Turbinado Sugar
2 Tablespoons Sugar

  1. Zest two lemons into a 4 cup measuring cup or a medium bowl. 
  2. Squeeze lemon juice from both lemons into the same cup/bowl.
  3. Add milk to lemon juice and set aside. (This is a substitute for buttermilk that I like more than using buttermilk itself. I always have milk and usually have lemons. I never have buttermilk.)
  4. Whisk together flour, cornstarch, salt,  baking powder, baking soda and turbinado sugar in a large bowl. Set aside. 
  5. Separate the eggs. Yolks can go directly into the milk/lemon mixture. Whites go in a separate bowl.
  6. Add oil to the milk, yolk mixture and whisk to combine.
  7. Pour step 6 mixture into step 4 mixture and whisk to combine.
  8. Whip the egg whites that you separated into their own bowl in step 5 until frothy. Add the 2 Tablespoons of (plain) sugar and whip until soft peaks form. Sometimes I do this by hand just to prove that I can do it. Other times I am more reasonable and use a hand mixer with a whisk attachment.
  9. Fold whipped egg whites gently into batter, set aside.
  10. Pre-heat your waffle maker according to manufacturers instructions. 
  11. For my waffle maker I can fit about 6 oz of batter per waffle without it exploding out the side. Cook waffles for about 3 or so minutes until the steam stops and the waffle is golden brown. Trial and error is the only way I know of to come up with the right amount of both bater and time. As I have discovered, steam and smoke can look surprisingly similar.
  12. Do let your waffle maker return to temperature between waffles. A hot iron will lead to better texture. 
  13. Waffles for a crowd can be kept warm in a 200 F oven.
  14. Waffles are especially good with the best syrup ever.

    Sunday, February 12, 2012

    They're Bananas!

    One of (the many) reasons my husband and I make such a good couple is our ability to complete a bunch of bananas together. I only like barely ripe bananas with a good bit of green. He only likes ripe bananas that are just beginning to get spots. Sometimes we completely miss the proverbial banana boat and the bunch goes all the way to over ripe. When this happens I toss the bananas into the freezer and save them to make banana muffins. Thrifty, huh?

    To make you need:

    3 to 4 over ripe bananas
    1/4 cup of melted butter or vegetable oil
    1/4 cup sugar
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 1/2 cup whole wheat flour (sometimes I use 1 cup flour plus 1/2 cup almond flour)
    1/4 tsp salt
    1 egg
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    Chocolate Chips (as many as you want)

    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F
    2. Mash the bananas in a large bowl.
    3. Mix in the melter butter (or oil), sugars and egg.
    4. Add flour, salt and baking soda.
    5. Mix together by hand until just combined.
    6. Add chocolate chips and stir to incorporate.
    7. Did you notice that this recipe can almost be accomplished in one bowl!
    8. Line a muffin tin with 12 muffin liners. I've never successfully extracted a cupcake or muffin without a liner so I always use them.
    9. Divide batter evenly, should make 12 muffins.
    10. Optional: Sprinkle the top of each muffin with some turbinado sugar to give them a little sparkle and crunch.
    11. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes until puffed, cracked and golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through for even cooking.

    We had these muffins for dessert the night I made them and then for breakfast the next morning.

    Monday, February 6, 2012

    Surgery Day

    February 7th is surgery day. It started in 2006 when my infant son had open heart surgery to repair a defect that prevented oxygenated blood from properly flowing through his body. Before the surgery, he was blue; after he was pink. I am certain we celebrated 2/7/2007, 2008 and 2009 with a fancy meal and a bottle of wine. We remembered last minute 2/7/2011 and I think I threw something together, but I don't remember what.

    Tomorrow is 2/7/2012, my son has no memory of the surgery and has perfectly normal heart function. This year, I am going to let it go. It's time.

    So for 2/7/2012, we are going to have turkey sloppy joe's (made with a pound of ground turkey, a can of tomato paste and a packet of sloppy joe mix) and microwaved sweet potatoes because that's the kind of "easy to throw together everyone likes" dinner we have on a an average school/work night.

    Sunday, February 5, 2012


    I call this dish risotto. I use arborio rice and I stir it a whole bunch. I think it is pretty easy to make. According to the hours of cooking TV I've watched, "real" risotto is nearly impossible to make. Maybe you can't believe everything you see on TV. Maybe I'm not really making risotto. Either way this tastes really good and you should try to make it sometime.

    To make you need:

    1 cup arborio rice
    1 medium onion chopped fine
    1 clove garlic minced
    3 tablespoons butter (regular or for added yummy-ness use part herb butter)
    1/2 cup white wine (you can use red but then your rice will be pinkish-purple)
    3-4 cups warm broth or stock
    grated parmesan cheese to taste
    salt and pepper to taste

    Get yourself a beer or glass of wine, a snack and your phone. You are going to be stirring for the next 20-30 minutes, so be prepared. I liked New Holland The Poet Oatmeal Stout.

    • Pour broth/stock into a small sauce pan and set over medium low heat.
    • In a medium pot with rounded sides (saucier) melt butter over medium heat. I used 1/2 plain butter and 1/2 herb butter.

    • Add onions and garlic and cook until translucent but not browned.
    • Add rice and cook until slightly translucent and well coated with butter.

    • Add wine and stir until wine is absorbed. Turn heat up a little to medium high.
    • Once wine is absorbed, start adding broth one ladleful at a time while stirring. 
    • Did I mention stirring? Keep stirring!
    • Once you are able to see the bottom of the pot for a few seconds in between stirs it is time to add more broth. Sort of like the picture below which was really hard to take with my phone while I was stirring. 
    • The further you go in the risotto process, the more starch you coax out of the rice and the more likely it is that your "risotto" will stick to the pan -- so keep stirring!
    • After about 10 minutes of adding and stirring, taste the rice to check for doneness. You want it to have a little chew but not be crunchy and stick in your teeth.
    • By about 15-20 minutes you should be close. The rice should be slightly runny since it will thicken as it cools. 

    • Grate in parmesan cheese (you can use cheddar or whatever you have on hand) as much or as little as you want.
    • Season with salt and pepper to taste.
    • I covered the risotto with a lid and set it aside off the heat while Mark cooked the rest of dinner for me.
    We had "risotto" with Salmon Glazed with Honey and Mustard. Mark made the salmon and not only was it beautiful, it tasted amazing! I was hungry and dug in before remembering that I wanted to post a picture. Sorry if that's gross.