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Wednesday, January 30, 2008


kids in the kitchen :: play dough!

the way i see it, anything that happens in our kitchen is fodder for this blog. and just the other day we made our very own Play Dough. last December we gave some of it to every kid on our list. this is a great recipe for it. i once had someone tell me that it was a little too much work to make their own play dough. to which i have 2 things to say:
1. seriously?

2. it's worth it because it lasts a long time before drying out (no matter how well you store it) and it's a great texture. it's how play dough should be.

(okay, i guess for some who aren't into cooking, baking or creating in the kitchen it could be a little challenging to think of cooking a kid's toy.....but only a little.)
here's the recipe:

1 cup salt
2 cups water
4 tsp. cream of tartar
2 tbs. oil
2 cups flour
assorted food coloring (i used oil-based as opposed to water--i find you get a richer color with this stuff)


1. bring water to a simmer in a medium pan. add salt to dissolve.

2. add cream of tartar, oil and flour.

3. cook over medium heat until mixture thickens to theconsistency of play dough.

4. after it has cooled, knead in the colors of your choice.

5. store in airtight containers so it doesn't dry out!


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Monday, January 28, 2008


bloggy giveaway :: a martha cookbook!

it's giveaway time!


here's what i'm offering----martha stewart's hors d'oeuvres handbook. it's in GREAT condition. and it's an awesome resource for anyone who entertains or just likes to make small food! : )

here is the review:

Martha Stewart's Hors d'Oeuvres Handbook, Stewart, along with Martha Stewart Living food editor Susan Spungen and photographer Dana Gallagher, has created not just a handbook but a dream book. The first 225 pages consist entirely of beautifully photographed, exquisite nibbles, tastes, and bites--and the following 270 pages give you the recipes and instructions to re-create them at home. Pink and orange ribbons bound into the book allow you to easily mark photos and recipes. Only Martha and her staff would come up with something so beautiful and practical.

how to win it: just comment on this post saying you want to be entered. make sure to leave a blog address or email address! shipping is on me. so, just check back here on FEBRUARY 3RD to see if you won!

easy. fun. game on!

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Daring Bakers january challenge :: lemon meringue pie!

well, i did it! (sort of) i completed my first challenge with the Daring Bakers. and it was hard! i've never been very good with the pie crust. so, when i learned the challenge was lemon meringue pie, i was a little afraid to try it given my past with crust-making debacles. but, given that i was supposed to have done the december challenge (yule log) and had to post-pone my first assignment, i felt i had to take it on. and i did! But, it didn't come out so well.

i ended up making 2 crusts--the second marginally better than the first and i'm sti
ll not sure what i am doing wrong. i watched some videos online. the best one i found was the epicurious one. helpful! (you can find video demos of almost anything you need here.) but still, i came out with touch, chewy crust. looked good, tasted fine, but the texture, not so good. i'm disappointed. i really want to be able to do a good pie crust, but i feel like i'll never get good at it until someone who really knows how to make a good crust can show me. i did all the things you are supposed to do. cold ingredients, cold bowl, cold utensils, work quickly. don't over mix. maybe i did over mix? maybe it didn't chill long enough. who knows. pie crust is a big fat mystery to me right now. but i will get good at it one day!

if that wasn't enough, the pie turned out soggy. it was fine and then it became sad. weepy and watery. i'm not sure what that was about, but clearly i've never made a LMP before. and may never again! it tasted pretty good! but the texture of the whole thing was just. . . off.

as usual, my son was there with me making his pie right along side. he was quite serious (for a 3-and-a-half-year-old) about the whole thing. "mommy, i really think it needs a liiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiitle more salt." his pie something with black beans. i don't know. i'll have to ask him what it's called. half the fun of baking is having him there with me, for sure.

well, it's a bummer about the pie, but I'm not discouraged! i'll be looking forward to the next challenge in February. given the whole valentine thing, i hope it's something chocolatey!

addendum - wednesday, january 30th

as lis and slush pointed, it doesn't look soggy, but that's because i took these photos right away. about an hour later it was seriously weepy. poor pie.

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Friday, January 25, 2008


free stuff! :: sweet bloggy giveaway


i'll be participating in the awesome bloggy giveaway hosted by Rocks In My Dryer. the last one i did in the fall was really fun, so i'm at it again this time!

check back here on January 28th to see what i'm giving away.


Wednesday, January 23, 2008


kitchen gadget spotlight :: kick-ass travel coffee press

okay, so it's not really a kitchen gadget per se, but it rocks the java so hard that i have to spread the word about it.

it's made by Planetary Design and i got one for the hubby for christmas. in a word, it's awesome. see, the sad truth is we've been hitting the caffeine after a looooooooong hiatus. this is what a second child will do to you. take you from a perfectly happy decaffeinated existence and make you caffeinated once again. granted, we're doing the wimpy half-caf, but still.

so, now, we need to get a second one of these bad boys because even though it's technically *his* i can't keep my mits off of it.

here's why:

:: the spunky color alone is enough to make me want to pick it up. it's all shiny. (and it comes with lots of spunky color options.)
:: the handle just feels right in your hand.
:: it keeps the coffee remarkably hot
:: it's got a fine mesh screen where you sip, so no grounds can ever get into your mouthful of "happy" (what we call coffee around here).
:: it's got a secret compartment! makes me feel all double-oh-seven or maxwell smart-like (inspector gadget?) in the bottom of the cup is a compartment that holds enough grounds for another cup. so, if hubby's at work and he needs a hit, all he has to do is add water. sweet!
:: the directions say to add your sweetner and dairy when you put the grounds in, then add water. we were dubious that this would yield a good cup. but it does.
:: fits nicely in the car cupholder.

in short--2 THUMBS UP!

if you are in need a new coffee solution and are partial to the french press situation, i highly recommend it.

here's their web address:

and no, i'm not getting any kick-back, i just love their product and i can't keep my trap shut about it!

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Sunday, January 20, 2008


weekend soup :: minestrone with pesto

usually about this time of year i get a bee in my bonnet for making soup. lots of soups. and more often than not, i make way too much. since hubby is a veggie-phobe, and my toddler can only eat so much in a sitting, it's up to me to pack it away. which usually means eating it everyday for a week and freezing some. i get carried away and tend to add whatever veggies i have on hand, then, add more water/stock to compensate. it's just what i do. my favorite thing to do with a veggie soup is to add a dollop of pesto as i'm serving it. it's just so good! especially if i have managed to freeze some pesto from the previous summer. then, it's not only delicious, it's so very easy.

as usual i got my young'n involved in the soup making. he goes to a waldorf school and they make soup at school every tuesday, so he's all expert at it. seriously, he cut
all the zucchini, potatoes and half the carrots. he also snapped every bean. and the best part is we just hang out together while we cook. we talk. we sing. we tell stories. it's awesome. it's how cooking should be.

to go with our soup, we also made Martha's yummy corn biscuits. Here's a link to that recipe as well.

so, here's our recipe for super-yummy Minestrone
Soup! warm up to a bowl, you won't be sorry.

1 can (15 oz.) white beans, rinsed well
salt, to taste
2 tbs. olive oil
2 yellow onions, diced
1/2 cup diced pancetta
3 carrots, peeled, thinly sliced
2 celery stalks, diced
3/4 lb. tomatoes, peeled, seeded and diced, or 1 can (15 oz.) diced tomatoes
5 to 6 cups water or chicken broth, or as needed
4 small new potatoes, peeled, diced

2 zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced
1/4 lb. green beans, trimmed and snapped to 1" lengths
1/4 lb. small shell pasta or orzo
2 tbs. extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper, to taste

TO MAKE THE SOUP: in a large soup pot warm the olive oil over med-high heat. add the onions and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. add the pancetta and cook, until tender, about 5 minutes more. add the carrots and celery and cook until for 2-3 minutes until slightly soft. add the tomatoes and enough water or stock to cover. bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer until the tomatoes break down, 10-12 minutes.

meanwhile, place half of the white beans in a food processor or blender with a little
broth. puree until smooth.

add the potatoes, zucchini, green beans, white beans (including the puree), and pasta to the pot and simmer until the vegetables and pasta are cooked, about 15 minutes. stir occasionally. season with salt and pepper.

ladle into warmed bowls, add a dollop of pesto (if you desire) and serve immediately.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2008


scones :: not just for breakfast anymore!

yesterday we made scones.

i love scones. i'm big fan of the scone. i fell in love with them when i lived on Martha's Vineyard and would frequent the Black Dog bakery. they made currant scones that were just heavenly. i still dream of them from time to time. there are some tastes you just can't recreate in your own kitchen, try as you might! i even got their cookbook, but alas, no scone recipe was within. i have plans to someday set about taking a year and making every recipe in that book during that year because it all sounds so good (and i'm a nostalgic type), but i digress. . .

for this scone-making adventure, i used the quirky cupcake's recipe. we put cranberries and walnuts in ours and they were quite tasty!! this recipe yields a cakier scone than i am used to, but i liked it a lot. and, as you can see, it was a fun project for my little dude. he helped mix it all up, crack eggs, brush with cream and sprinkle sugar. the hardest part for him is waiting. "are they done NOW, mommy?"

patience, young skywalker.

slap a little butter and jam on those bad-boys and we snacked like kings. (thanks quirky cupcake!)

: )

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Monday, January 14, 2008


favorite recipes :: buttermilk pancakes

i love pancakes.

okay, i guess i have never met someone who doesn't, but i *really* love pancakes. and i don't require anything fancy. some blueberries is really all i need. good ones. preferably picked a day or 2 before using.

most weekends i make them. and if i don't, i want to. i've been known to try to talk my son into wanting them, too, so i don't feel like it's just for me, but really it is.

"want mommy to make pancakes?"
"no. i'll have some cereal."
"wanna HELP me make pancakes?"
"no. i'll have daddy flakes (translation: Wheaties) for breakfast."
"oh.......i thought we could make them together. warm up some yummy maple syrup!"
"that's okay, mommy."
*pause while i think harder*
"how about if we put CHOCOLATE chips in them??"
"okay mommy, but can i also have a few chocolate chips in a bowl, too?"

yes. i do what i have to do to make it appear like i'm doing it for the kid.

here is our favorite, favorite recipe for pancakes. add whatever fruit you like or chocolate chips.

adaped from martha's recipe out of her Comfort Foods book

2 cups flour

2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp.
1 tablespoon sugar
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
3 cups buttermilk
1 tsp. vanilla extract

4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus 1/2 teaspoon for griddle

Heat griddle. Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar in a medium bowl. Add eggs, buttermilk, vanilla and 4 tablespoons butter; whisk to combine. Batter should have small to medium lumps.

Heat oven to 175 degrees. Test griddle by sprinkling a few drops of water on it. If water bounces and spatters off griddle, it is hot enough. Butter the griddle.

Pour pancake batter with ladle. When pancakes have bubbles on top and are slightly dry around edges, flip 'em. Cook until golden on bottom, about 1 minute.

Keeping finished pancakes on a heatproof plate in oven. Serve with butter and warmed maple syrup.

can you say, yum?

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Sunday, January 13, 2008


covered in chocolate and spit-up :: a brownie recipe

i've got me a 3-going-on-4-month-old girl at home. she's awesome. she's my honey pie. she smells good enough to eat. her laugh is like sonic sweets for the soul. it's makes for an interesting challenge when my 3-going-on-10-year-old boy and i want to bake something in the kitchen. any mom knows this dilemma. most probably just avoid it all-together and stay out of the kitchen as much as possible, but i can't do that. partly because i love to cook and partly because my son does, too. and on these endless winter days when he's not in school, we need something to do! (and eat!) so, into the kitchen we go. my son has an interesting challenge of doing more than he used to because now mommy has to tend to baby. i walk around the kitchen with the babe in one hand and the other hand is busy getting ingredients and measuring cups ready. the boy has to do all the scooping, dumping, mixing. so what if there's an egg shell in my brownie? and maybe there's a little more salt in there than there should be. oh well. so we made brownies in a round pan instead of a square one because mommy couldn't bend down and search for the right pan. big deal. we still get it done. and it's yummy. and he feels proud. he and i come out of it unscathed--a little chocolate on our pants. baby drool all over my shirt. but at the end of it all, we sit down for brownies and milk. and that's good stuff. here is a GREAT recipe for chocolate brownies:


Vary baking time for fudgier or cakier brownies

2 sticks unsalted butter 8 oz bittersweet chocolate coarsely chopped
1 1/4 cups all-purp' flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
2 cups sugar
4 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Grease a 9x2-inch square baking pan (or a 9" pie plate if you're like me!).

Melt butter and chocolate in a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water--stir occasionally, until just melted and smooth.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt in a small bowl.

Whisk together sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl, then pour the chocolate mixture in, whisking until well combined.

Whisk in the flour mixture and pour batter into baking pan.

Fudgy Brownies: Bake until top is shiny and set--the sides will have begun to pull away slightly and a toothpick or tester will not come out clean, about 35 minutes.

Cakey Brownies: Bake until toothpick or tester comes out clean, 50 minutes to 1 hour.

Cool brownies completely in pan on a rack. Invert onto a cutting board and cut into squares or the shape of your choosing.


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Thursday, January 3, 2008




somehow you have found my new food blog. i'm glad you did! welcome! after having written for a blog network, i now strike out on my own to write about all things food. recipes! gadgets! tips & food-related banter will abound here at the clean plate club. come by often. pull up a chair, a hot cuppa and cookie. let's chat.

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