Mystery Dumplings

So, I’m not entirely sure where this recipe originated. I was given it by my mother in law, who was given it by a co-worker who got it from someone (I think it was originally one of The Pioneer Woman’s recipes). Wherever it came from (and if someone can affirm or deny the origins, please let me know) it is delicious, and a great slap-together dessert when you’ve got a sweet tooth.

Apple Dumplings

Ingredients:

  • 2 apples (or peaches, or whatever fruit you want; anything goes!)
  • 2 8 oz. tubes crescent rolls
  • 2 sticks butter
  • 1 1/2 C. sugar
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 can mountain dew
  • cinnamon
  • vanilla ice cream

Step 1: Core and slice the apples  into 8 slices each. I prefer peaches, but the store didn’t have any, so I went with apples.

Step 2: Open the tubes of crescent rolls. Wrap each apple slice in one crescent roll. try to pinch the dough together around the apple slice. Place them into a baking dish.

Step 3: Melt butter. Add sugar and stir until moistened. Add vanilla, and pour over the dumplings. Pour the soda (any lemon-lime will do) around the edges of the pan.

If you noticed, this pan isn’t big enough. It was really full. But, the only pans I have are this Pyrex one and the world’s largest lasagna pan, so I make do.

Step 4: sprinkle tops with cinnamon. Place in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes.

I don’t really know what the chemistry is behind this recipe, but at some point in the oven the crescent roll dough absorbs all the buttery sugary goodness and makes this delicious, moist dough. The apples soften, and all is right with the world.

Unless your pan is too small, in which case all of the above will happen, but some of the buttery sugary goodness ends up on the bottom of your oven. Don’t be like me.

Step 5: Remove from the oven and serve topped with vanilla ice cream. Don’t skip this step; you’ll be sorry you did.

Leftovers can be refrigerated and served for breakfast!

The Wife

A Little Tease

So, I make a dessert that The Renaissance Man loves. I am not kidding; he adores this dessert, and he doesn’t use the word “adore”. Unfortunately for you, I have made it twice in the last few weeks, and on neither occasion did I think to take process pictures. I blame it on global warming. Everything is because of global warming, right?

This is probably the easiest, most decadent dessert you can make in under an hour. Chocolate lovers, fall to your knees for (drumroll) Chocolate Pudding Cake:

And if that doesn’t make your mouth water…

And before you get all high-and-mighty about my choice of toppings, this is the only dessert that tastes better with Cool Whip. Ice cream and whipped cream just don’t cut it, for some reason.

Next time I make pudding cake, I promise I’ll show you how to make it.  Until then, feel free to lick your computer screens.

The Wife

Lasagna Sans Tomato

Okay: the beginning of this week kinda caught me off guard, so I apologize if anyone was waiting with baited breath for a post on Monday. I failed miserably.

But, I think things have slowed down a little, at least enough for me to download some pictures and sit down for a minute.

Last night (well, yesterday morning, and again last night) we made my spinach lasagna. It is so good, and one of the few recipes I invented entirely myself. Most of my recipes start off as someone else’s, and then I go and change them so much that they are unrecognizable by  the time they get to you.

This one was birthed from my desperation to have lasagna that didn’t involve tomatoes in any way. If I haven’t said it before, tomatoes are yucky.

I’m going to split this recipe into two parts: the sauce, and the rest of the lasagna. Mostly because the alfredo sauce can be used for any pasta dish you like. It’s fantastic.

Alfredo sauce

Ingredients:

  • 5 Tbsp. butter
  • 1/3 C. flour
  • 4 C. milk
  • 1/2 C. parmesan cheese (optional)

Note: This is the amount for the lasagna. If you find you need less (or more for that matter) the general rule of thumb is: 1 Tbsp. more of butter and flour than the amount of milk you have ( example: 3 C. milk gets 4Tbsp. butter and 4 Tbsp. flour). I also always add parmesan if I’m using this as a stand-alone sauce, but don’t always add it for the lasagna (honestly, sometimes I forget). You will miss it in a pasta sauce, but you won’t notice it’s gone in the lasagna.

Step 1: melt butter in a medium saucepan. Once melted whisk in flour.

Step 2: remove from heat and slowly add milk, whisking thoroughly to avoid lumps. Add salt and pepper to taste. (add parmesan here and whisk in if desired.)

Step 3: bring to a boil, whisking constantly. Remove from heat and set aside once sauce starts to thicken.

That’s it! Put it aside until you need it for the lasagna, or ladle over any pasta you like!

Lasagna

Ingredients:

  • 1 Lb. mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, cut into large chunks
  • 1 container ricotta cheese
  • 4 C. shredded mozzarella
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 1 Lb. spinach, washed and de-stemmed
  • 1 package no-boil lasagna

Step 1: heat some olive oil over medium heat in a large skillet. Mince the garlic and add it to the oil.

Step 2: Cut the red bell pepper into large chunks. Throw those into the pan also.

Step 3: wash and de-stem the spinach. You can use bagged spinach so you don’t have to do all this, but around here bunch spinach is so much cheaper than pre-bagged. I will do a lot to save a buck.

Step 4: Once the bell peppers have brightened up a bit, add the spinach to the skillet. Just throw it on top. Cover with a lid and let the spinach wilt.

Step 5: While the spinach is wilting, slice the mushrooms. I found this in my mushrooms:

It’s a mushroom siamese twin! Run for your lives! Or slice it up with the rest of the mushrooms…

Step 6: Check the spinach. If it hasn’t wilted yet, stir it around a bit and re-cover. If it is wilted a bit, but not completely, remove from the heat and uncover.

Step 7: In a large bowl, combine ricotta cheese and egg. Whisk together until completely combined.

Step 8: add the spinach mixture to the ricotta-egg mixture in the bowl. Stir it around until it’s coated.

Okay, this is the confusing part. For some reason, if I just read the steps for layering the lasagna, I get confused and do it wrong. I tried to help out by taking pictures of each layer as I went.

Step 9: In a lasagna pan, coat the bottom with a little alfredo sauce. Add a layer of uncooked lasagna noodles.

Then add 1/2 the spinach mixture.

Then add a layer of mushroom slices.

Sprinkle on some mozzarella.

Then repeat, this time starting with lasagna, then sauce, then the other 1/2 spinach mixture, mushrooms, and cheese. Add a last layer of noodles and the rest of the sauce, then top with the remaining mozzarella. It will look like this when you’re done:

Step 10: cover with foil. You can either throw it in the fridge until you’re ready for it, or put it (covered) into a 350 degree oven for 50 minutes. Once it’s cooked, remove the foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes to brown the top.

Serve hot and delicious!

 

The Wife

The Week Ahead

Happy Sunday, everyone!

 

This has been a busy week in our household, and I am glad to say it is finally over! In trying to think of new things to bring to you, I find my brain has simply…stopped working. But here’s what’s on the menu in our house this week:

Steakhouse pizza: Since the pizza experiment of a few weeks ago turned out so well, I have made several more pizzas. And after the third one stuck to my cookie sheet (just like the other two) I decided it was time to invest in a pizza stone. While the recipe comes straight from The Pioneer Woman’s mouth (or website, as it were) the focus of this meal is trying out my new Haegar NaturalStone baking stone. It is square (the round stones seemed too small) it is multi-functional (bread and cookies are also welcome on this stone) and it was inexpensive, my favorite part!

Spinach Lasagna: A recipe of my own creation, this lasagna came about after I tried in vain to find a lasagna recipe with no tomatoes! I hate tomatoes like they have done me a personal wrong; they are slimy and snotty and difficult to slice. Yuck. So this lasagna features mushrooms, spinach, and a wonderful white sauce. This white sauce is what kept me fed through college, folks. It’s that good and easy.

Enchiladas: Once again, The Pioneer Woman comes to my rescue. I love her recipes. I love her show. I think she should let my husband and me move to their ranch and The Renaissance Man can be a ranch hand, and I can help homeschool her kids (and if you’re reading this, Ree, I am totally serious. Help us make the leap out to the country). And since my love for her recipes and sense of humor knows no bounds (not to mention coveting her lifestyle like a kid covets cake.)

Okay, my weird idolatrous sidebar is done. Sorry if I creeped anyone out. So, these enchiladas are simple. And delicious. And taste predominantly of green onions and sour cream, both of which are popular in our house.

The Lasagna and Enchiladas are both make ahead meals that I prep in the morning, then refrigerate and leave instructions for The Renaissance man to bake them when he gets home. Have I mentioned recently that my husband is my rock, my salvation, my reason to get up in the morning?

The pizza I am making tonight (Sunday). Partially because I can’t make this one ahead. And partly because my new baking stone is breakable, and TRM has a sketchy track record when it comes to breakable things.  If I told him our lasagna pan was breakable he would refuse to put it in the oven for me, so shhhhh.

The rest of the week we do leftovers because it’s just the two of us, and that means I don’t have to cook dinner at 8 AM so it will be ready when I get home (prepping dinner at breakfast time still weirds me out, even though it saves so much time).

So, until tomorrow, here’s a picture that just says “steak” to me:

This stoic longhorn was at the Houston Rodeo this year. Nothing says Texas like a thick juicy steak (pizza) and a longhorn!

 

The Wife

 

 

Sweet Tea, the “Right” Way

So I am sure there are a million ways to make sweet tea. Adding sugar to a cold glass of tea, however, is not one of them. This is an easy way to make good, strong, sweet tea in just a few minutes.

We have sweet tea in the fridge all. summer. long. The Renaissance Man grew up all over the South, and can’t mow the lawn when it’s over 80 degrees without it. Since I grew up in a household with a dad who loves sugar and a mom from South Carolina, I am no stranger to the super-sweet drink. I just didn’t know how to make it “right”. But, since I am a good wife (or try to be), and my husband would shrivel up and die (or go through the McDonald’s drive through every day) without it, I figured this one out in a hurry.

Ingredients:

  • 5 tea bags
  • 1 qt. boiling water
  • 1 qt. cold water
  • 1/2C. sugar

Step 1: Boil some water. I use my tea kettle. It seems appropriate.

Step 2: find a pitcher that holds two quarts. Now tie the five tea bag strings together.

Dangle them in the pitcher.

Step 3: Once the water is boiling, pour it into the pitcher with the teabags, enough to just cover them. Steep for 10 minutes. It will be very strong. That’s what you want. Once it’s done it will look like this:

Step 4: This is the important part. Add the 1/2C. sugar to the hot tea in the pitcher. Stir it. This ensures that the sugar melts and gets distributed evenly into the tea, instead of sitting at the bottom in a sugar cloud (you know what I mean).

Step 5: Once the sugar is totally dissolved, add enough cold water to fill the rest of the pitcher.

Put it in the fridge for the rest of the day to get cold.

This makes very sweet tea. TRM likes it that way. I could pour it into my hummingbird feeder and the hummers would be ecstatic. If you think it will be too sweet for you, use 1/3C. sugar.

Here’s to warmer weather!

The Wife

New Frontier

Good morning, all!

So, in an effort to learn what all this new social media is about, and spread the word about what I do here, I have joined twitter and tumblr. I know, I know, I swore never to join twitter, because “tweet” is not a noun. But apparently, if you want to up traffic, it’s the place to be. Plus, it’s not as inane as I thought it would be.

tumblr is confusing, but I’m making it work. Like, really confusing. If someone can explain it to me, that would be awesome.

Anyways, come and see me; @wifemeetslife or wifemeetslife on tumblr or both! I’m all alone in this brave new world of social media!

 

Nutty Granola

So I believe I mentioned before (in my homemade yogurt post) that I eat yogurt with granola on top every morning for breakfast. And, I make both at home. Mostly, it’s a money saving tactic; a pint of yogurt costs $3, and I can make as much as I want at home for the price of the milk. Same with the granola. I make enough to fit in a cereal box for about $2; a third of that amount is $5 at the grocery store. So, since the savings are significant, I spend the extra time each week to make my breakfast ahead of time.

Plus, the granola I make tastes better than anything I’ve ever bought at a store.

Pecan Granola

Ingredients:

  • 4C. quick oats
  • 1 1/2C. pecans
  • 1C. sweetened, flaked coconut
  • 1/2C. milled flax seed
  • 1/2C. wheat germ
  • 1C. honey
  • 1/2C. olive oil
  • 1tsp. vanilla
  • 1Tbsp. cinnamon

Step 1: Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put all dry ingredients into a large bowl. I cannot stress that enough; make sure the bowl is large enough to hold everything.  This makes a lot and it’s hard to clean it off the counter, once it’s all mixed together (but I’m not speaking from experience, or anything…)

Note: If you did not buy chopped pecans, chop them before you add them to the dry ingredients. I use this handy little chopper thing that The Renaissance man bought for himself a few years ago. I stole it, and now it chops nuts on a weekly basis:

Note #2: if you are unfamiliar with wheat germ or flax seed, this is what they look like:

They are not necessary to this recipe. You can leave them out, but they add a lot of omega 3s and fiber to the granola. It is way healthier with them, and you can’t taste either one anyway, so what’s the harm?

Step 2: Once all the dry ingredients are mixed together, use a small bowl (or a large measuring cup if you’re me) and mix the honey, olive oil, vanilla, and cinnamon together to make a weird, dark brown paste. Pour said paste over the dry ingredients.

Step 3: With a spatula of some kind, summon all of your arm strength and stir everything together until all the dry ingredients are coated. This takes a while. If your arms get tired, take a break. It will look like this once everything’s coated:

Step 4: spread the granola onto a large baking sheet and press it down. If you like big chunks in your granola (I do) press it firmly.

Step 5: Bake the granola for 15 minutes. Remove it from the oven and stir it around carefully. Press it back into the pan.

Step 6: bake for 15 more minutes, or until it is dark golden-brown.

Step 7: Whatever you do, don’t cool the granola in the pan. It will magically adhere to the baking pan, making it necessary to throw out the granola and the pan. I am not kidding. This has happened. Remove to paper towel lined plates, or a container. I use a large tupperware container lined with paper towels and separate it into two layers, pressing each layer into the container.

Once it has cooled completely, transfer to a sealed container. Serve with yogurt, with milk, or snack out of the container.

Your can adjust the amounts of things, or substitute things like sunflower seeds or dried fruits for 1/2 the pecans. Make it your own, and let me know what things you added; I’m always open to suggestions!

The Wife