Thursday, February 24, 2011

Attack of the kitchen gadgets

So, I'm a little excited about my first ever giveaway coming up soon! Stay tuned for a review of something kitchen-y from CSN stores, and for your chance to do a little shopping there yourself. CSN sells just about everything, from flooring to wood swing sets to book racks (love!) to decor to of course, kitchen stuff.

About that kitchen stuff. I'm all for appliances that make my life easier and meal prep faster in the kitchen. But sometimes I feel like there are so many "useful" gadgets that if I got them all they would quickly take over my house. Space is at a premium in my kitchen. If I'm going to be an appliance that only has one function, it better be either small, or so convenient that I just can't do without it. Thus I don't have a salsa maker, a fondue pot, or a hot dog toaster (ha!).

I am very fond of certain appliances. I use my bread maker constantly. My cooking world opened up so much when I finally bought a food processor. My blender gets a lot of use too, as does my rice maker. (I know it's easy enough to cook rice on the stove, but I just love the "push a button and forget about it" approach.)

Currently on my wish list? A new wheat grinder; I have an old stone grinder but would like to upgrade to something smaller and more convenient eventually--maybe this one? And also, a new Bosch mixer. Mr. J, in two strokes of thrift-store good luck, actually purchased our wheat grinder and our Bosch mixer secondhand. I loved the Bosch while it lasted--I used to make huge batches of cookie dough in it.

Also, I'm really debating the usefulness of a tortilla press. On the one hand, it looks a little bulky and it only has one function. Plus, I wonder how well they really work? On the other hand, I made tortillas last night and it really is a very manual, time-consuming process. A press might be worth it.

I think I'll do a little more kitchen gadget window shopping!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Raspberry Caves

A raspberry cave is a Swedish short bread cookie filled with jam. I made these for an international-themed potluck at Mia's preschool several years back, and I have made them many times since. They are a favorite with Mr. J.

14 T butter, at room temperature
½-3/4 cup sugar
½ tsp vanilla
1 ¾ cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp cinnamon
raspberry jam (or use lingonberry, which is a Swedish favorite)
30 medium paper cups (I use regular muffin cups)

Heat the oven to 375° F.

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla. Add the flour, combined with baking soda and cinnamon. Divide the dough into 30 pieces. Roll each piece into a ball and put in a medium sized paper cup. With your finger, make an indention and fill it with jam.

Bake on a cookie sheet in the middle of the oven for about 12 minutes.

Potato Salad

Made this today and it was just right. I really like the dill pickles and the ranch dressing in it, and the very subtle hint of mustard. Adapted from here.
  • 6 eggs
  • 10 red potatoes
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup ranch dressing
  • 1/3 cup chopped dill pickles or relish
  • 1 tablespoons prepared yellow mustard
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/8 teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 celery stalks, diced


  1. Place the eggs into a saucepan in a single layer and fill with water to cover the eggs by 1 inch. Cover the saucepan and bring the water to a boil over high heat. Remove from the heat and let the eggs stand in the hot water for 15 minutes. Pour out the hot water; cool the eggs under cold running water in the sink. Peel and chop the cooled eggs.
  2. Place the potatoes into a large pot and cover with water. Bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Drain and refrigerate until cold. Peel and cube once cold.
  3. Stir together the mayonnaise, ranch dressing, pickles, mustard, salt, pepper, paprika, and celery salt in a mixing bowl. Add the eggs, potatoes, and celery; stir until evenly mixed. Cover and refrigerate at least 2 hours before serving.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Whole Wheat Bread

This is the bread we eat day in and day out around here. After several years of making it I have the recipe memorized and it only takes a few minutes for me to throw the ingredients in the bread maker, and later to shape the dough into a loaf. It's one of those little life pleasures that is worth the effort to me - for now at least!

Whole Wheat Bread

1 1/4 cup hot-ish water (not hot enough to kill the yeast--use your wrist to gage heat)
1/2 T yeast
2 1/3 cups white whole wheat flour
1 cup self-rising bread flour
1/6 cup oil
1/6 cup honey
1/2 T salt
1/2 T gluten (optional)

Measure ingredients into bread maker in the following order:
1 1/3 cup wheat flour
oil and honey
1 cup wheat flour
1 cup self-rising flour
gluten (if using)

Mix on "dough" setting. After cycle is complete, shape dough into a loaf, place in greased bread pan, and let rise until doubled in size. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes. Brush top of finished loaf with butter. Let cool for 5-10 minutes before removing from pan.

*Notes: For the oil and honey, I use a 1/3 cup measure and fill it half full with oil, then to the top with honey before dumping it all in. The honey slides right out that way and you don't have to scrape it.

Broccoli and Tortellini Salad

This salad is great for potlucks, baby showers, and such.

Salad Ingredients:
  • 6 slices of bacon
  • 1 1/4 lb. fresh or frozen cheese tortellini
  • 2-3 heads broccoli, chopped into florets
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 1 cup sunflower seeds
  • red onion, finely chopped (to taste - I only use a little as it tends to be overpowering otherwise)
Dressing Ingredients:
  • 1/2 cup mayo
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 2 t cider vinegar
Cook bacon, cool, and crumble. Cook tortellini for 8-10 minutes, drain, and rinse under cool water. Mix dressing ingredients. Combine all remaining ingredients in a large bowl; add dressing; toss. Serve chilled.