Hay, Hay, It’s Donna Day In Deuces!

How did we get so lucky? In the last HHDD event (the wonderful tribute to Donna Hay facilitated by Bron Marshall) there were two winners, so each selected a recipe for twice the Donna Hay pleasure (and even in two languages)! Meeta of What’s For Lunch, Honey? (perfect blog title!) chose a chicken satay for us, while Tartasacher of Mil Postres (thousand desserts, I love it!) selected a lovely grilled fruit with yogurt. It was the perfect pair for our lunch today.

At our house, anything that screams ‘Meat On A Stick’ sounds like a winner. I tweaked the Donna Hay recipe slightly to match what I had in the kitchen and it turned out so perfectly I’m afraid the kids will ask me to make it again and I won’t be able to repeat it! Tartlet 1, who naturally tends toward carnivorous behavior, ate *six* skewers of meat (seriously, that’s as much as pictured above!). Instead of cashews I used pistachios and I added some grated lime rind to the marinade, giving the resulting skewers an odd green tinge that wasn’t entirely appetizing at first look, but the taste was wonderful. My other modifications were minor. Thank you Meeta for choosing a winning recipe that is sure to be repeated in our house.

For the grilled fruit and yogurt, I had intended to make something slightly different but the bottle of nutmeg that I *know* I purchased this week could not be found. No doubt someone will find it in the potato bin next week or in the drawer with yogurt cups or something absurd! Instead I used the cinnamon as called for in the recipe but found other ways to make it unique.

Because I was using my homemade yogurt, made this time with whole milk, rather than a thicker commercial yogurt, I didn’t mix it with cream. I added the sugar and cinnamon and then grated some orange rind into the bowl, not bothering to clean the grater after the lime I had used in the chicken marinade, so there were bits of lime zest also. It had a lovely flavor. The kids who thought they weren’t going to like this dessert at all were practically licking their plates to get the last drops!

The sugar grilled fruit would work fabulously for dessert for two, but was a bit more time consuming for six. I was using a smallish pan and opted to only clean it after every two batches rather than after each one. I was also finding the sugar was not adhering symmetrically to the fruit so after a couple of batches I started just sprinkling some sugar in the bottom of the pan, placing the fruit slices on top, and sprinkling the tops with a little more sugar. That worked very well for me. I chose two varieties of apples — Jazz (oh, YUM!) and Pinata (not as spectacular but good), pears, and peaches for my fruit. Although I originally chose those because I like them with nutmeg, they also work fabulously with cinnamon and orange. As I said, we were all scraping up the last bits of our dessert today. Thank you, Tartasacher, for a fabulous simple dessert that the kids have already requested that I not only make again, but teach them to make also!

Recipes after the jump. Continue reading

Liquid Diet

No worries, Fruittart is not about to start on one of those wacky protein shake diets, drinking a chalk solution from a tin as a substitute for meals made of real food. Blech. And I hope the annual January weight loss frenzy hasn’t convinced you to do it, either. Even Thing 1 has been asking lately why is it that *every* single newspaper and magazine has some headline about weight loss?

During the summer, I like to make fruit and yogurt smoothies as a dessert for our family, but they also work for breakfast any time of the year.  This is the kind of liquid diet I can at least replace one meal with, although I doubt it serves for weight loss.  Especially since Thing 4 didn’t like it, so I helped her finish her glass too! Everyone else calls them ‘milkshakes’ and thinks they are really getting something decadent. Shhh! Don’t tell them how good it is for them!

I bought an excessive number of bananas last week and the family seems to have gone on a banana eating strike, so I had an excessive number of brown bananas. The family can only stand so many variations of banana muffins before they won’t eat any those either. Yesterday I made a gallon of fresh vanilla yogurt using my favorite yogurt as the starter. This morning I made smoothies. Oh, yum!

Banana Blueberry Smoothies:

2-3 overripe bananas
2-3 Tbsp. blueberry syrup
3-4 Tbsp. frozen orange juice concentrate
2 c. yogurt
1/2 – 1 c. frozen blueberries

Blend until smooth.

Repeat as desired!

Tasty Frugality

I’m not a morning person. Even though I managed to get up before 7 AM for years of my life, my preference would be 8:30 or a little later. Not really feasible with kids, but a girl can dream. I think related to my general abhorrence of morning is my lack of interest in breakfast foods. I don’t really like breakfast. Pancakes, waffles, eggs, bacon, sausage, cereal — they’re all ‘OK’, but not really worth getting up early. So generally I’m a muffin and/or yogurt person for breakfast. Simple, time-efficient breakfast. Sometimes in winter I make oatmeal, generally with cranberries, raisins, cinnamon, and brown sugar.

This morning I started to make a pan of oatmeal and the scoop was missing from the container so I tapped the container to shake some in the pan. Avalanche! Suddenly there was quite a bit more in the pan than I wanted and I had to add water, which meant the oatmeal didn’t have as nice of a texture as it could have. It made more oatmeal than we were interested in eating and just as I was about to dump it out, the frugality gene went off.

I manage to keep the frugality gene suppressed most of the time. I don’t think of myself as very frugal at all. Sure, I’m not the kind to go out and buy big flashy items, but I will readily nickel and dime my way to an empty pocket. And it’s not as though I don’t throw away food. It’s embarrassing to consider the amount of fresh produce I’ve purchased only to allow it to rot in the refrigerator and be tossed out in a week or two or three — after it has clearly become inedible. Or those small boxes of leftovers that aren’t enough for another meal and linger in the back of the fridge until they are no longer identifiable. And, although I don’t think I would have said it aloud, if there is just a small amount of something very popular left and it looks like serving it would cause a fight to erupt over who gets to have it — I’d rather throw away food than have the children fighting. In many of the latter cases, I just make The Husband eat it so the kids won’t fight. Need a snack, dear?

So I don’t know what stayed my hand this morning and kept me from tossing out the oatmeal, but suddenly I looked at the pan and said, “You know? I’ll bet I could make some muffins out of this oatmeal. I shouldn’t toss it!”

The frugality gene went off just after New Year’s Eve too. I bought a bunch of lemons and limes and ended up not using them as I had intended, so I made a little lemon/limeade to drink and rather than just squeezing them and tossing the rest, I first grated the peels and put that in little bags in the freezer. It’s amazing how handy a little frozen lemon or lime zest can be. This morning I used the last of mine. I have a few more citrus fruits in the frig that are languishing and I’m thinking today we need to schedule a little citrus zesting/juicing.

So it was a happy coincidence that I thought of the lemon while I was holding the oatmeal pan and decided to make a little lemony oatmeal muffin. And I’m really happy to know that tomorrow morning, when I have no interest in getting up and thinking about breakfast, that I have these muffins waiting.

Leftover Oatmeal Lemon Muffins

about 1 1/2 c. cooked oatmeal (I didn’t measure mine)
1 c. plain yogurt
1 c. applesauce
4 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1 t. lemon zest

1/2 c. ground flax
1/2 c. wheat germ
2 c. flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1/2 – 1 c. raisins or other dried fruit

Preheat oven to 350 F. Spray muffin tins with non-stick spray; set aside.

Stir together first six ingredients. Add dry ingredients and mix until moistened. Fill muffin tins and bake about 20 min or until done.

Makes 24 muffins.

Lemon glaze:
powdered sugar
lemon juice

Yummy Yogurt!

I make yogurt periodically and it seemed like the best solution for having purchased too much milk last week. The Husband ate all my yummy Stonyfield Farms vanilla yogurt so I decided to try something new in my yogurt making. Typically I just make plain yogurt. I scald the milk and cool it, adding the yogurt cultures when it’s around 110 F.

This time, I added 1/2 c. sugar and half of a vanilla bean split down the middle to a gallon of milk. I heated the milk mixture to 200 F and cooked it at that temperature for 10 minutes, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon,. Then I cooled it quickly by placing the pot in the sink with a water/ice bath. When it reached 112 F, I pulled it out of the cooling bath and removed 1 c. of milk. I mixed about 1/2 c. of plain Dannon yogurt with the milk and then added the mixture to the large pot (which was now at about 110 F) and stirred well. I strained the yogurt as I poured it into a large plastic container. I loosely covered the container and wrapped it with kitchen towels to insulate it and set it near the oven, which was warm.

After four hours, I tasted it and put the container in the fridge. It has a nice smooth texture and yet set up fairly well for a yogurt made without gelatin, pectin, or powdered milk. It doesn’t have too much whey and the vanilla was a perfect addition. I’ll definitely do this again.