Category: quick & easy

No-knead rye bread.

Well, like I said, its getting closer and closer to feeling like full blown autumn. Yeah- it’s still warm, but it’s not hot. The breeze is awesome, and the humidity is low. But let’s be honest: even here in New York, you can have a Halloween that’s 80°+ degrees… with the trees turning orange and yellow. So “fall” comes no matter what the weather says. But the humidity has dropped drastically for the most part. The windows have been flung open, the curtains are blowing around and the A/C is no longer pumping 24 hours a day. At night, I need a robe or hoodie. And I love that. And the baking! Oh I’ve been baking like crazy. When I’m sad, frustrated, worried or stressed, I make things. I make crafts, cook, or can, or bake. And the fall is the perfect time to do it, since I won’t be sweating my ass off.  So really if I’m gonna be stressed, this is the time to do it. And bread is comforting, so hello? Bread it is.

I love baking bread. But the problem is I have no patience, and I border on being a lazy baker. I HATE waiting for things to rise, but it’s worth it if I don’t have to spend my entire day kneading dough. Which is why I love to make Levain and no-knead bread like this. They’re really, really easy. I promise.

No-knead rye bread.

If you’ve ever wanted to bake bread but were afraid, or thought a bread machine is the easiest route, listen to me: MAKE. THIS. BREAD. Seriously, guys. I know you’re probably reading this thinking, “Nope. Newp. Noperz. I do not have time for that.” But that’s NOT TRUE! You do have time!

There’s no KNEAD for special equipment to make this no-knead bread. Get it? Ha. Yuk, yuk, yuk. All you need is a heavy pot with a lid; i.e. a Dutch oven or French oven, like Le Creuset, Emile Henry, Lodge, Staub or whatever you have. I think cast iron or enameled cast iron is best but in theory any heavy pot will do, and in any size from 4 – 7 quart (mine is 7.25 quarts) depending on if you halve the below recipe or make the entire thing. You can even halve it and use a larger pot; I’ve done so in the past and it’s been fine. Better to have the pot a bit larger than one that’s too small, though!

This bread is a rye; if you prefer a plain bread, try this version.

No-knead rye bread.

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Homemade brown rice & catnip cat treats & DIY gift jar.

I’m a crazy cat lady. Okay, no, let me rephrase that: I’m a crazy animal lady. I love all animals. I don’t discriminate. I’ve had both cats and dogs at various points my entire life; sometimes at the same time. I chase bunnies in our yard in the hopes one will hop into my arms and speak to me like Thumper. I feed the birds & have a bird bath in the yard (despite them shitting on everything!). I came home from the hospital after being born and shared my crib with Daffy, a little calico. Since then I’ve had Licorice (Licky), Tigger (Tiggy- notice a pattern?), Casey (canine not feline), Arwyn (Awbeez) and now Indy (also canine). My mother has had cats since she was 4 years old.

And the newest addition to the family is my mom’s new kitty, Snowflake.

Snowflake in the window (click through for homemade cat treat recipe!)

Snowflake (aka Snowy, aka snuggle face, aka Snowball, aka Arabella Snowflake, aka crazy ass, aka silly butt) is around 3 years old, and she’s deaf. We aren’t 100% sure of the extent of her hearing loss, but it’s probably around 90%. She does hear some things- specifically higher frequency things (i.e. babies/kids yelling, high pitched noise) but its not all the time and it isn’t clear how much of it she hears. Not that that holds her back at all! She’s the sweetest little mush face in the world; she’s beautiful too (for the in-depth story about how we surprised my mom with her, keep reading to the bottom of the post). She’s super friendly, loves people, loves kids, loves to snuggle… and loves to eat. Ah, a girl after my own heart. Which is funny because she’s a thin, graceful, athletic little thing!

But boy, does she love to eat. Treats, canned food, dry food, human food. She likes French dressing. Seriously. And she loooooooves catnip. We have a certified addict here.

So I decided to make her a little gift. Homemade cat treats, in a fancy little jar.

Brown rice & catnip cat treats and a DIY gift jar.

Arwyn, my mom’s previous cat, was not big on homemade stuff. She was super picky- she’d prefer to go without food than deign to eat a can of something unappetizing. She did love cat treats, but she was selective. She didn’t like soft treats, didn’t like fish-flavored ones, etc. Snowflake, on the other hand, loves all food. We haven’t hit on something yet that she doesn’t like.

I was inspired to make these by Joy The Baker, who inspires me in many ways. Her cat treat recipes have been making me think about homemade cat stuff for quite some time. Yeah, I’ve made Indy TONS of homemade cookies and biscuits and “pupcakes.” But cats? I always assumed they were too picky (or at least mine were). But Snowflake made me change my mind.

The jar idea is something I’ve been doing for a while (remember these?), but Joy also has that on her blog, and you can find them all over the internet. It’s a very simple DIY and I’ll get to more about that after the cat treats.

Brown rice & catnip cat treats and a DIY gift jar.

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Fruit & walnut jammy bars.

Fruit & walnut jammy bars!

So school has started. It’ll be about a month until Christmas decorations start to show up in stores. Things are only going to start getting more hectic from here; now that the slow & easy days of summer are gone. So how about some comforting treats? Like cookie bars! I love cookie bars. Cookie bars are so easy, fun and delicious. Plus they’re even kinda cooler to make than cookies, because you can just throw it all in a pan and not worry about the shape. Or removing it too quickly before it’s cooled and ending up with a smooshed falling apart cookie and a burned mouth.

Or is that just me?

Yeah. So cookie bars. Jammy bars. Cookies filled with jam, basically.

Fruit & walnut jammy bars!

Anyway, this is a great recipe for many reasons. One, you can use up some of those half-filled jars of jam in your fridge. Two, it’s a great school lunch item. And three, it’s 100% customizable. Literally any kind of nut and any flavor jam/preserve can be put in it. Including lemon curd or Nutella, if ya wanna get crazy! You can literally do anything you want and they’ll come out sweet. Get it? Sweet? Ha. Or hey, even pumpkin pie filling! GO NUTS.

And the best thing is, if you have problems taking it out of the pan & it crumbles, it makes a fantastic ice cream or yogurt topping! SO WHO CARES! PAAAAARTYYYY!

*ahem* The only reason I mention that is because the first time I made them, that’s what happened. Still delicious, but I didn’t use enough butter/flour on the pan. Ooopsie.

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Quick maple whiskey pickled carrots.

Maple whiskey pickled carrots.

I have made pickled carrots before, a long time ago. Four years ago; when my food photography was atrocious and my canning skills were n00b level. I made an adapted version of Molly Wizenberg’s recipe from her book A Homemade Life, which was basically spicy pickled carrots with rosemary. They were good and very much enjoyed by everyone who ate them, but for some reason I never again made a pickled carrot.

Until now.

Maple whiskey pickled carrots.

I really don’t know why I never again pickled carrots, really. I always thought of it when I saw beautiful multicolor heirloom carrots at farmer’s markets. I literally would see them and think, “How gorgeous would those be, pickled up in a jar?” And then I’d promptly move on and never actually do it. I’d probably just eat them in a salad or soup and that would be that.

But I recently had this genius idea. While making Jay his whiskey sour/maple whiskey pickles for the zillionth time, I thought, “Hey wait a minute… maple glazed carrots… maple whiskey pickles… what about using this recipe for pickled carrots?!” He looked at me as if I was insane (a normal occurrence) and then nodded slowly and smiled and said, “Sure…” I think he was just humoring me.

And so of course I just had to try it out. I did not have any fancy colored carrots, unfortunately, just plain old skinny organic orange beta-carotene-filled “normal” ones. However, it really would be lovely to fill up a jar with a variety of colors and sizes of carrots for this. Excellent presentation.

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Fresh garden salsa (that you can enjoy in February).

Weighing tomatoes before making fresh garden salsa (canned!)

I got a new kitchen scale, dudes.

This is exciting for me. It took a long time to find one that was what I wanted. I didn’t want digital. I wanted an old-school analog one- vintage styled. Jay and I really wanted an actual vintage one, but we were worried about the calibration of a true vintage scale. We didn’t want to buy one then find out it needed to be overhauled. So then we got some gift cards for Williams-Sonoma (for either our wedding or a late-housewarming gift) and we found this one by Salter for Williams-Sonoma. SCORE!

So we ordered it and it came and it’s lovely. Just what I had in mind. Vintage look, but brand new.

Weighing tomatoes for some fresh garden salsa.

And I’ve got lots of tomatoes, all fresh from my backyard. Yep, the garden is still kickin’! Indigo Apples, Cosmonaut Volkov’s, Globe’s, Amish Paste’s and Super Sweet 100’s. They’ve all gotta be used, and one can only eat so many fresh. Or in a salad. So… naturally, everything I make preserve with tomatoes; i.e. tomato jam or sauce or salsa, I need to weigh them first. Conveniently.

And that leads me to our recipe today:

Canned fresh garden salsa- enjoy your garden in the middle of the winter!

I looooooove salsa. Oh man. I could eat salsa all day, every day. Green, red, I don’t care. Hot salsa, medium salsa, salsa with black beans and corn. I love it all. The only ones I will not eat are peach salsas or mango salsas. I’m a purist, see. Tomatoes & peppers only for me. With loads of cilantro. LOADS. I love it tossed into a fresh salad topped with tortilla strips, shredded cheese and sometimes grilled chicken. I also love it on chips, with guacamole. And who doesn’t love it on burritos?

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Oven roasted tomato deliciousness.

Oven roasted tomatoes with basil, oregano & garlic

Happy September, everyone. Wow, can you believe it’s September already? Where did the time go? Summer really flew by. I’ve had a pretty stressful summer- and I didn’t get to the beach once. Also, my cat of 13 years, Arwyn, had to be put to sleep a few days ago, so this summer has been officially marked as shit. She might have lived with my mom and become my “mother’s” cat, but she was my baby. I see Halloween stuff and back-to-school things in stores and I wanna cry, and I LOVE Halloween. How did the summer go by so fast… and why? It’s still a zillion degrees out, I’m not fully ready to plunge into 100% fall treats yet. Besides- IT’S NOT EVEN LABOR DAY. LEMME KEEP MY TOMATOES AND MY SHORTS AND MY SANDALS AND MY ICED TEA, PLZ. KTHX.

Oh, tomatoes. Tomatoes, you beautiful summer-long-into-September-and-maybe-October delectable morsels of life.

Fresh tomatoes!

I know we just spoke about tomatoes a few days ago, but come on. LOOK AT THESE THINGS. How do you not want to take pictures of them and eat them and cuddle them?

Okay, maybe not that.

In case you’re not a regular reader, we’ve been growing tomatoes in our raised garden beds. I had container gardens for years, and last summer we upgraded to raised beds that Jay built. This year we expanded them, and grew 5 varieties of tomatoes: Indigo Apple, Globe, Amish Paste, Cosmonaut Volkov and Supersweet 100. We also grew three kinds of basil (Cinnamon, Purple Ruffles and regular ol’ Genovese) and two types of oregano (regular and “hot & spicy”).

Tomatoes ready to be oven roasted!

I love tomato season. Unf.

So, I had a few tomatoes that fell off the vine before they were ripe, and I decided to pick a vine of Supersweet 100’s and toss ’em all together in the oven. Of course, what are tomatoes without garlic, basil and oregano?

So I washed and dried the shermaters, cut up the Indigo Apple’s to a smaller size, and grabbed some hot & spicy oregano, a bunch of basil leaves and some regular oregano. I added those to the ‘maters. It already smelled like heaven. Or a pizzeria. Same thing.

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The simplest, freshest, easiest tomato sauce you’ll ever make.

(This was originally written for a contributor post on eighteen25, go take a look and see! And look for more posts by me over there soon.)

Simple, fresh and easy summer tomato sauce. Adapted from a recipe by Marcella Hazan.

When it’s like, 200 degrees out, you do not want to be making something that takes hours over a hot stove. Nuh-uh. It’s too much. Even if you have the A/C crankin’ you still don’t want to be standing stirring something, sweating.

Wow, alliteration! My 8th grade English teacher Mrs. Clarey would be proud.

Anyway, I’ve been making this sauce for a couple of years now. Mainly in the summertime, but I’ve been known to make it in a double batch on a cold day. It’s my go-to simple sauce recipe because of a few reasons: 1) it’s easy, 2) it tastes delicious, 3) it’s quick to make and 4) it’s EXCELLENT on both pasta and homemade pizza. And it’s also amazing on crusty bread with a thick slice of fresh mozzarella. Yum.

All you need (plus salt and sugar) to make the best, freshest tasting tomato sauce ever.

And best of all? There are 4 main ingredients, shown above, and two minor ingredients (sugar & salt). That’s just 6 ingredients in all. And in 20 minutes, you’ve got a delicious sauce, ready to eat. Also, it can be made with peeled whole canned tomatoes as well, if you prefer a chunkier sauce. Just crush ’em in the pot with your hands before adding the other ingredients.

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