These just looked too fun not to make- even though I’m not really a s’mores fan (it’s the marshmellows).  I’m a cute-dessert fan, and a chocolate fan, and…well, the kids thought this was a fun project, especially as it meant they got sweets before bed.

I broke a graham cracker in half, then cut a large marshmellow in half and stuck it sticky-side down to the cracker (oh, and please ignore the ugliest cookie sheet ever- the “good” ones were in the dishwasher!).

Then, into the broiler (on low) they went for literally two minutes- keep an eye on them bc one minute they’re fine, the next, burning.  Once you see a bit of brown, turn the pan- I had to, bc the marshmellows in the back weren’t browning, while the others were nearly burnt.

Then, once everything seems as dark as you’d like, take ’em out and pop on a Hershey kiss- three minutes tops from start to finish, and how cute is this?

The kids really loved this project- although a few of the s’mores ended up losing their kisses 🙂

And, being too little for s’mores doesn’t mean that you miss out on dessert- you just get a giant marshmellow to drool over!

E “customized” his s’mores…by adding French vanilla ice cream and some strawberries…yum:

Definitely a fun treat- and, for three minutes of prep time, totally worth it!

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This recipe is from “Veganomicon”, a vegan cookbook I got awhile back when…ugh, it’s embarrassing to admit, but I got it right after baby #2 bc I wanted to lose baby weight fast- and so, I started eating vegan.  And I learned that that’s incredibly difficult, especially for someone who loves meat more than anything!  At any rate, the book has some really great recipes, and I still try to use it for meatless meal ideas.

Anyway, after making the vegetable broth yesterday, I really wanted to make some soup- and after a pantry reorganizing project the other day, I found that I have way too many bags of beans lying around.  So, here’s hoping to reduce that number by usin’ up some lentils!

Here’s the recipe- I’m going to do a photo-dump style post:

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and cut into fine dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons dried tarragon
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon paprika (Hungarian if you’ve got it)
  • 5 plum tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 6 cups water or vegetable broth
  • 2 cups French lentils
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • Several pinches of freshly ground black pepper

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat a large pot over medium heat and add oil. Sauté the onion and carrots for about 10 minutes, until onions have browned a bit. Add the garlic, tarragon, thyme, and paprika, and sauté for 2 more minutes. Add the tomatoes and a little splash of water if necessary, and stir to deglaze the pot. Cover and cook for 5 minutes.
  2. Add the water, lentils, bay leaves, salt, and pepper, then cover and bring to a boil. Once the soup is boiling, reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, covered, for about 45 minutes, or until the lentils are tender. If the soup looks too thin, uncover and simmer for a couple more minutes. If it looks too thick, add a little more water. Serve with good, crusty bread.

Sauteeing carrots and onions

W/garlic and herbs...I have to admit that the smell of tarragon kinda makes me queasy. It's the same way w/celery- once it's cooked, I'm fine 🙂

W/everything added in and simmering

And now, we wait- it should simmer for about 45 minutes, or until the liquid’s reduced a bit and the lentil’s are tender.  Be back soon!

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Wow, it’s really good- despite the tarragon! 😉  No, really…this is yummy!  If I have any criticism for the recipe, it’d be that there are WAY too many lentils- I didn’t even cook it for 20 minutes when the liquid was gone, and it was like lentil craziness.  Way, way too many lentils- if I made this again, I’d probably only use one cup, and not two.  This time, though, I scooped out some, and added in another cup of broth.

All set!

But wow, sooo good- the tarragon really adds something unique.  It’s much more of a complex blend of flavors than I might have thought, and wow, the leftovers will be so good for lunch!  (And I’m sure the yummy homemade broth had a lot to do w/this delicious meal…or, at least I’ll pretend it did!)

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E did have some “constructive criticisms” when he tried this- mainly that it was just a “giant bowls of beans” (It’s not, clearly- just look at that ingredient list up there, mister!  But again, this was why I think the amount of lentils should be cut down- seriously, it’s a lot!).  So anyway, for the leftovers, I’m going to add in more tomatoes and maybe even some roast chicken (we still have some leftover from the other night).  The flavor of the soup was really great…just maybe too many lentils! 🙂

I’ve saved the easiest broth for last!  Really, after fooling w/huge cow bones and chicken carcasses for beef and chicken stocks, a little veggie broth will be a breeze!  And, since I wanted to make soup for dinner tonight, it seemed like the perfect time to try out veggie broth-making.

I found this recipe on AllRecipes.com, and it’s listed as the “World’s Greatest Vegetable Broth,” and even has 4.5 stars.  Sounds perfect!

Here’s the list of ingredients:

  • 1 pound celery
  • 1 1/2 pounds sweet onions
  • 1 pound carrots, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1 pound tomatoes, cored
  • 1 pound green bell pepper, cut into 1 inch pieces
  • 1/2 pound turnips, cubed
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 cloves garlic
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 6 whole black peppercorns
  • 1 bunch fresh parsley, chopped
  • 1 gallon water

First, roast the onions, carrots, tomatoes, bell peppers, and turnips (all tossed w/olive oil) for a little over an hour at 450-degrees (oh, I used parsnips instead of turnips bc I had some, and didn’t wanna buy turnips!):

Gettin' roasted

Once the veggies were roasted, they went into the stock pot w/the celery and…well, everything else:

After that, it was boiled for about…maybe two hours?  The idea was to boil it until the liquid had reduced by half- I think it took about two hours.  When it was finished, I poured the mix through a colander, and discarded the veggies- I know I should have saved them, but…I didn’t.

Anyway, tada- vegetable broth!  🙂

This is something I’d wanted to try forever, but didn’t bc I was scared off.  Who knows why, but anyway, I avoided making apple butter.  Never again- especially now that I found a slow-cooker recipe! 🙂

The only bad thing about this recipe is that it takes a total of 12 hrs.  And, since I’m scared of leaving my slow-cooker on while we’re asleep, I had to start this pretty early.  (Well, it’s only 8am, but it’s still early to be thinking about cooking projects!)

Peel, core, and chop 2.5 lbs apples- they suggest using a mix to create a more complex flavor, and I normally would have done that, but we had loads of Fuji apples lying around, so I didn’t get fancy w/it.  Also, I used more apples than in the recipe, only bc mine were tiny, and the recipe was for large apples.

Then, add in white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg- and cook on low (stirring occasionally) for 10 hrs:

Be back in…oh, forever, w/an update! 😉

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Ok, so I started at 8, and it was finally ready at 6pm.  But, I totally forgot about it, since I’d been smelling it all day, and didn’t remember it until nearly 7!  (Oops!)  After the 10-hr cook, I used a hand-mixer to mash the apples- you’re supposed to use an immersion blender, but I don’t have one.  The hand-mixer was a bit tricky, but I smushed the apples into one side of the slow-cooker, and ran the mixer over them a lot until the mix was pretty smooth.

Then, one more hour of cooking on high.

OH- my apple butter was really thick, almost like paste, and the thought of one more hour of cooking had me thinking I’d just be cleaning a baked-on mess out of the slow-cooker, so I added about a half cup of water, and stirred it in.  Perfect!

E had some after dinner, and said it was really good- and wow, it totally is!  Definitely using this recipe again! 🙂

I realize that you don’t often think of having cranberry sauce at any time other than Thanksgiving, but…I decided to break the tradition, and have some in February!  Actually, I only thought of making it after seeing fresh cranberries at our CSA- I bought them for an apple cranberry crisp, but will probably make that another time now.   And, this was even a suggestion for my 2012 Challenge (thanks, Marjorie!)- one more reason to give it a try!

I saw this recipe from Pinterest, and it really looks fantastic- it’s only five ingredients, all of which I had already:  cranberries, brown sugar, white sugar, OJ, and rum.

Here goes- add everything into a saucepan, and cook on med-high for 15-20 minutes:

I used 16 oz, rather than 12 as in the recipe, so I just added in a bit more of each ingredient to balance it out.

Here we go!

(Wow, this smells so good as it’s cooking!)

Boiling and getting frothy

Nearly done- I started squashing the still whole berries to mash them in

This was really easy, and wow, after the first taste, it was also totally worth it!  What a great recipe!  I’m planning to use this tomorrow night w/a roast chicken- can’t wait!  Yum, how good does this look??

Tada!

I may even give up that canned gel cranberry sauce altogether after this…maybe. 🙂

 

Even though I cooked a lot yesterday, none of the cooking was terribly exciting or adventurous- I mean, I made cupcakes from a box.

However, we did make pizza last night, w/a cute “Valentine’s” twist:

(Finally!  A good use for those annoying knives w/the curved blades, like the blue one in the linked picture- the little pointy end worked perfectly for this project!)

The kids thought it was cute, and even E asked me if I had taken a picture of the pizza before we cut into it bc he liked it so much!  Who knew heart-shaped pepperoni could be so fun?

Hope you all had a great Valentine’s Day! 🙂

Another fun project, courtesy of Pinterest! 🙂  This was the “silly” project I had in mind the other day, that I never got around to making, and honestly, it wasn’t nearly as tricky as I thought it’d be.

For starters, I used pre-made crust, which takes out all the usual pie-making nonsense.  Next, the pies are super-small, so the lattice work is really easy to do!

Anyway, the recipe in the link above is for caramel apple pies- I just made apple.  Cut up about two small apples, mix w/a little bit of sugar, some cinnamon, the smallest dash of nutmeg, and sprinkle w/lemon.  Tada!  Then, cut out circles for your pies (I used one of the kids snack containers bc it was bigger than a glass), and press it into a cupcake pan:

Press the dough into the pan, and add the apples:

Next up, the lattice work.  I made another circle in the dough, and then just cut tiny strips into it. Assemble the strips to cover the apples, and just weave them together:

A little egg wash, and then into the oven (350-degrees) for about 25 minutes.

All done- and, yum!  I only made one, as a tester, and now I’m off to make more!  So cute! 🙂

(Just be sure to really let it cool before trying to take it out of the pan- I lost a bit of the bottom by being too impatient!)