After many long weeks (months?) of surviving on not much more than cold cereal, Top Ramen, banana peppers, and way too much take-out (ahem--separately, not together) I'm happy to report that I am cooking again. And it feels good. Very good.
A great chef I am not. Most of what I cook is simple. Made from simple ingredients that I have on hand. I enjoy cooking from scratch--for health reasons (homemade food is good for you even when it's "bad"--I mean, at least you know what's in it, right?) as well as financial ones (cooking from scratch is often more economical than buying prepackaged foods). But, let's face it, I'm a mom and I like convenience too. I cut corners where I can and appreciate a quick, easy meal just as much as the next person. So with that in mind, I share with you three easy recipes that can be made from scratch without a lot of time or effort.
(Did I mention these are easy?)
This is a great thing to make with kids. I use Homesick Texan's recipe. So easy and so good. I love eating it for breakfast with plain yogurt and fresh fruit, but, okay, by the handful is good too. And the best way to enjoy this tasty snack? On top of ice cream, which you can also make from scratch in less than 10 minutes (see below).
Homemade Ice Cream
Well, I am my father's daughter, so it should come as no surprise that ice cream is pretty much considered a staple--nay, a food group--in this house. I think I've mentioned before that we live within a 5-minute walk of a local frozen custard joint that is seriously delicious. So much so that visitors to my town have considered relocating to be near it, and on more than one occasion, I have packed it on ice and driven it a thousand miles across the country to satisfy some lucky person's craving. It is *that* good.
It is expensive. At least at the rate we (would like to) eat it.
So we make our own ice cream at home. The traditional method of making a custard and freezing it in an ice cream maker is best, but, let's face it, sometimes you just don't want to wait that long. So what's a resourceful family to do?
Ice cream in a bag. There are lots of ways of doing this, but here's our version...
In a pint-size resealable bag combine:
1/2 cup cream or half-and-half
1-2 tablespoons of sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
Seal the bag and place inside a gallon-size big with lots of ice and a few tablespoons of rock salt. Seal the larger bag and shake for 5 minutes (or better yet, throw it on the trampoline and bounce it around for a while) until it reaches the consistency of ice cream. Open the bag(s) and serve immediately.
(Sorry, no picture, but don't let that stop you.) All my Italian friends told me making your own marinara was easy, but I never believed them. Then I discovered the cookbook Apples for Jam. So many delicious recipes there, but the one that will change your life is the marinara. Ridiculously simple. Four ingredients--canned tomatoes, garlic, olive oil, basil--oh, and salt! Must not forget the salt. So I guess there are five ingredients. Math skills aside, I promise it's barely any more effort than opening a bottle of the jarred stuff, which is often loaded with preservatives and artificial sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup. (Sugar in marinara? Read the label. You might be surprised.) Try it. I'm confident that once you do, you will never go back to the stuff in a bottle.