Posts Tagged ‘ recipe ’

How to make Dulce de Leche

How to make it the easy way, that is.

I’m usually a proponent of making everything the hard way, but on this particular day, I wanted some dulce de leche, and I didn’t want to go the store or spend hours in the kitchen. So I cheated. And I documented it, so everyone will know that I cheated.

Here’s what you need to make dulce de leche (the easy way)

  • 1 can of sweetened condensed milk

That’s it! Seriously. Oh, and a microwave.

Pour the sweetened condensed milk into a large microwave safe bowl. Very large, if you have one. The milk will foam up considerably at first.

Microwave on medium (not high) for 2 minutes, then whisk.

Microwave again on medium for 2 minutes, then whisk.  Continue microwaving and stirring for 6-8 minutes, or until milk looks like this.

See how it’s starting to look a little curdle-y? Stir it up and nuke it again. Next it will look like this.

Mmmm, curdled milk.  Don’t worry, your whisk will whip it back into (smooth) shape.

The milk has almost turned into dulce de leche at this point, but I gave it one more minute in the microwave just to be sure. I wanted it a little more golden and caramel-y.

Ah, perfect. Be careful, the dulce de leche is ridiculously HOT. It hardens up pretty fast as it cools though, so get it into a jar and then do this.

And this.

And, forgive me, this.

Frugalista Weekend Meal: Ham Bone Soup

I think this is going to be my cheapest meal yet. Check it.

  • Ham Bone: Free (leftover from a ham that was given to us)
  • 1 lb dried Navy Beans: $1
  • Bacon Grease: Free (leftover from cooking bacon)
  • 3 carrots: $.30
  • 1 onion: $.30
  • Water: Free (sort of)
  • Salt: So cheap it’s almost free

Total: $1.60  Divide that by 6 servings and it’s $.27 per serving. Take that $1 menu. Here’s how you do it.

Bacon grease. Throw some in a pot. A tablespoon will do.

Carrots and Onions. Cook them for just a minute or two in the bacon grease.

Now throw in your leftover ham bone and 1 pound of dried, rinsed beans.

Add 6-8 cups of water and you are almost home free.

Now you just need to simmer this for 2-3 hours and it’s done!  You may need to add a little salt, just be careful with that ham bone in there. It will impart a lot of flavor. I only added a smidge of salt to this hole big pot of beans.

Serve with bread and butter and a salad. Feel good about all the money you saved by cooking at home. Make plans for how to spend that money. Nikon D40 anyone?

How to make bread

I know a lot of people are intimidated by the thought of making bread. Don’t be afraid, I’m here for you. Nothing beats a fresh loaf of bread on a cold winter’s night. Unless it’s a hot bowl of soup. Hmmm, I’ll have to get back to you on that one.

Back to the bread. Take a look at the recipe, then I’ll walk you through it.

  • 7/8 Cup warm Water
  • 1 1/2 tsp Yeast
  • 2 tsp Sugar
  • 1 1/2 tsp Salt
  • 1 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tsp Vinegar
  • 2 1/4 Cups Flour

Not too scary, right?

Ok, let’s start with the water.  You want it to be about 110 degrees. Not hot, but not cold. Warm. If you are unsure, err on the cold side, because hot water will kill your yeast.

So, throw your yeast in the bowl, add the water. Also add the sugar. It’s not necessary to stir at this point. Throw it all the bowl together, and walk away for about 10 minutes. Find something else to do. Fold a load of laundry, get on Facebook, or just lay on the couch. Your mixture will go from this

to this. Notice how happy and bubbly the yeast is now?

Now you can add the remaining ingredients. I like to only add 2 cups of flour, reserving the remaining 1/4 cup just in case I need it. Turn your stand mixer to 2 or 4, and let it all mix up. Then take a look at your dough and see what it needs.

Too gooey. It’s not forming a ball or cleaning the sides of the bowl. Let’s add that last 1/4 cup of flour.

That’s looking better. Now we just need to knead it! And by we, I mean the kitchenaid. It kneads real good. Just turn it to 4 and walk away. Let it do it’s thing for 3 or 4 minutes, then come back and give it a final check.

Looks great! It’s forming a ball, and it has cleaned the sides of the bowl nicely. There may be more exact ways of measuring when the dough is just right, but those are the criteria I use.

Now just leave the dough in the bowl, cover it, and leave in a warm place for at least an hour.  The back of the stove is good. Especially if there is soup simmering on the front of the stove.

We want the dough to rise in the bowl. This is called the first rise. Pretty brilliant, right?

Good job, dough. Now through the dough onto a floured surface and punch it down a few times with your hands. Shape into a loaf and place on a greased pan.

Now cover again, and let it sit (again!) for the 2nd rise. Should take 30-45 minutes. Here’s how it will look when it is ready.

At this point you can throw it into a preheated 400 degree oven. Or you can jazz it up a bit by brushing with some egg wash (1 egg + 1 tbsp water) and cutting diagonal slits on top.  (Note: it only takes 1 or 2 tbsp of egg wash. Don’t go throwing all the egg on there or you’ll have fried eggs on top of your bread.)

Now bake! 400 degrees for 25 minutes. You want the bread to be nice and brown on top, and to sound hollow when you knock on it. Again, not so scientific, but bread making really isn’t. Just trust me. It has a certain sound.

Look! Bread! You did it!

So to recap the main points:

  • Add sugar and yeast to warm water and let sit for 10 minutes
  • Add remaining ingredients
  • Knead for 3-5 minutes
  • Cover and let rise for 1 hour.
  • Punch down, shape into loaf, and let rise 30 minutes
  • Brush with egg wash, bake at 400 degrees for 25 minutes.

Not too bad, right? 2010 is the year of bread. Not really, but it could be. So learn to bake bread this year. It’s worth it.

And I’m sorry the pictures go from natural light to nasty flash light. I lost the daylight, ok? It gets late early these days…..

Don’t forget to get your raffle tickets to win a Starbucks gift card! Info here

Breakfast for Dinner

We like to have breakfast for dinner every once in a while. I know this freaks some people out (ahem), but hey, we’re all adults here. And if you can’t choose to shake things up a bit and have breakfast at dinner time, what can you choose in life really? So put on your big girl pants and choose to have breakfast at night. You’ll like it, trust me.

Yesterday’s breakfast dinner (breakner? brinner?) was less an expression of free will and more of a “there’s really no dinner food in the house,” type of deal. It all worked out pretty well in the end though. Let’s take a look.

Potatoes (2). Slice ’em and dice ’em, baby. Throw them in a hot skillet with some olive oil or butter. Or bacon grease. I was really angry when I realized I had used butter instead of bacon grease. Foolish.

Onions (1/2). Add them to the taters.

Green Pepper (1). I realize this is a lot of pepper in relation to the potatoes and onions, but we are trying to recover from the holidays, folks. We need us some veggies.

Seasonings. Throw some in. We love this Goya Adobo with Cumin. Seriously, we use it at least a few times a week. It’s an addiction.

Now let the potato/onion/pepper mixture brown up a little, then cover it so the potatoes will cook a little faster.

While that’s cooking, whip up some eggs and milk. I know this is a picture of 4 eggs, but I threw in 2 more when they didn’t look like enough. Just use your imagination. 4 eggs +2 eggs = 6 eggs.

When the potatoes and veggies are looking nice and done like this

Throw in the egg mixture

Stir it all around a bit, and when the eggs are almost to your liking, add some cheese. As much as you want. Because it’s all about making choices here.

Mmmm,who’s hungry? Grab a plate and dig in. And don’t forget to add a little more cheese for good measure.

Easy Weeknight Chili

I just love making meals that I can throw together with food from the pantry and freezer. Take this chili for example.

Got some onions? Chop ’em.

Got 1/2 lb of Ground Meat in the freezer?  Brown it.

Got some rubbery carrots in the back of the veggie drawer? Chop them up smaller than this and no one will ever know there are carrots in the chili.

Dig through your pantry and pull out any old cans of tomatoes that you have.  Consider yourself lucky if you have “chili ready” tomatoes like I did.

After you’ve cooked up the meat (which is totally optional, by the way) carrots, onions, and what have you, add the tomatoes.

Find the leftover navy beans that you cooked up earlier in the week and toss those in.

Suddenly remember that you have some cooked black beans in the freezer and throw them in (frozen). They’ll defrost just fine in the hot (almost) chili.

Now you just need to season this up and you are well on your way to a delicious dinner!

Christmas Cookies

Decorating Christmas Cookies.  Sounds so sweet, right? So festive and cheery.

More like so much work. So much mess.

Yesterday we made Dave’s favorite sugar cookies – his mom’s (awwww). Her secret ingredient? Cream cheese.

Mmmm, just look at the butter, cream cheese, and sugar all whipped together.

So here’s the not so secret recipe.

  • 1 C. sugar
  • 1 C. butter, softened
  • 3 oz. pkg. cream cheese, softened
  • ½ tsp. salt
  • ½ tsp. almond extract
  • ½ tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg yolk (reserve white)
  • 2 ¼ C. flour

In large bowl, combine sugar, butter, cream cheese, salt almond extract, vanilla and egg yok, blend well.  Lightly spoon flour into measuring  cup; level off.  Stir in flour until well blended.  Chill dough 2 hours. Bake cookies at 375 for 7-10 minutes.

Clean up the mess you made while making the dough, and then after waiting 2 hours, make another, ever bigger, mess!

I guess some of the final products were cute, but they just get eaten so fast!

Merry Christmas, I guess.  Anyone want to come over and clean my kitchen?

How to make Egg Nog

If you are grossed out by raw eggs (shame on you) then this recipe might not be for you.

Raw eggs are good, people! Especially if the come from a local farmer. I have absolutely no qualms with eating raw eggs from a trusted local source. Raw eggs that have been shipped in from West Virginia and sat on a grocery shelf for a few weeks….those make me cringe a little. I might still use them, but I would definitely cringe.

On to the recipe. It’s hard to find an Egg Nog recipe that doesn’t require slooooowly cooking 12,000 yolks. So here’s my raw egg nog invention.

Use 1 Egg per cup of Milk.  Then add to taste: a little sugar, some vanilla, a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg. Here’s what that looked like for me.

  • Beat 4 eggs til creamy
  • Slowly add 4 cups of milk. Beat some more
  • Add 1/4 cup Sugar
  • Add 2 tsp. Vanilla, 2 dashes of cinnamon, 1 dash of Nutmeg
  • Beat again.

That’s it! Egg Nog. Easy peasy lemon squeezy.  Eww, lemons and egg nog. Sorry.

The best, easiest fudge

Usually I like to do things the hard way. For fudge, that would mean slaving over a hot stove, stirring til my arm fell arm, watching that candy thermometer for the perfect temperature. Nope, not doing it.

Instead I made this fudge from allrecipes.


  • 3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1 (14 ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/4 cup butter


  1. Place chocolate chips, sweetened condensed milk, and butter or margarine in large microwaveable bowl. Zap in microwave on medium until chips are melted, about 3-5 minute, stirring once or twice during cooking. Stir in nuts, if desired.
  2. Pour into well-greased 8×8-inch glass baking dish. Refrigerate until set.

Yep, it was that easy.