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Saturday, August 16, 2008

Brithday Presents

In Tolkein's fictional Shire the Hobbits celebrated birthdays not by getting presents from their friends but by giving them. Anyone with a slightly mercenary view of the world (i.e. small children) will see this is the best of all possible worlds. Getting people to show up at your house and shower you with gifts us hard, especially as you get older. But you can personally attend as many birthday parties as you like and, as long as you are a polite guest, no one will mind. And if attending birthday parties means getting a present, well, who in their mercenary mind would turn it down?

I love the idea of giving things for my birthday. Saddly, the police just aren't as free with your personal information as I'd like. I tried, dear reader, to tell the nice police that I just wanted to send you a box. But for some reason they balked. I can't think why....

So, instead of sending you a piece of birthday cake and a trinket I've decided to give you some recipes. I love to cook. I love collecting recipes. And I'm always happy to share some of my favorites:

Chicken Breast Stuffed with Basil and Mozerella-
(recipe adapted from Cooking Pleasures magazine August 2008 issue)
I love this recipe because it's quick, simple, fast, and I can use the basil and tomatoes in my garden.

- Take 1 chicken breast per person
- Slice the breast in half but do not cut all the way through (like butterflying)
- Fill slice with mozerella cheese, 1-4 basil leafs (depending on size) and a thin slice of tomato.
- Heat pan on medium-high and prepare with 1-2 tbspns of olive oil
- Sprinkle chicken with salt, pepper, and garlic powder to taste
- saute chicken 4 minutes on each side
- Toss some cherry tomatoes (if you have them) in the pan
- turn down heat, cover pan, and let cook until chicken is cooked (maybe 10 minutes)

Serve with some crusty bread and vegetable of your choice

Cranberry-Pumpkin Muffins
Adapted from Grandma Berta's bread recipe
These muffins are healthy (sort of), tasty, and quick to whip up. The batter freezes well so you can make a batter, cook as many muffins as you'll eat in a week, and freeze the rest for next week.

2 eggs, slightly beaten
2 cups sugar (or vanilla sugar)
1/2 cup cooking oil
1 cup pumpkin
2 1/4 cups flour
1 Tbsp pumpkin pie spice
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup chopped cranberries
1 bag chopped walnuts
1 tsp vanilla extract

Combine eggs, sugar, oil and pumpkin, mix well. Combine flour, spice, soda, and salt in a bowl. Make a well in the center and pour pumpkin mixture into well. Stir just until dry ingredients are moist. Stir in cranberries.

Spoon into greased muffin pans. Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes. Makes 1 1/2 dozen.

Serve warm with butter or whipped cream cheese

Homemade Ice Cream in a Snap
Adapted from various sources
This is quick, easy, yummy, and super adaptable for whatever you like. You can try this technique with juice to make sorbet. Each recipe makes about one serving.

1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 cup milk, cream, half & half, soy milk or whatever
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
6 tablespoons rock salt
1 pint-size plastic food storage bag (e.g., Ziploc)
1 gallon-size plastic food storage bag
Ice cubes

- Fill the large bag half full of ice, and add the rock salt. Seal the bag.
- Put milk, vanilla, and sugar into the small bag, and seal it.
- Place the small bag inside the large one, and seal it again carefully.
- Shake until the mixture is ice cream, which takes about 5 minutes.
- Wipe off the top of the small bag, then open it carefully. Enjoy!

A 1/2 cup isn't much, we doubled the recipe using half cream and half 2% milk. I used a large amount of regular salt, a capfulof vanilla, and maybe a 1/4 cup of vanilla/lavender sugar I had waiting for some lavendar cookies.


  1. I love the idea of giving presents on my birthday.
    Actually, I just love the idea of being like a hobbit.

  2. hehe, nice post, L :D I like your philosophy :D

    (And I love your recipes! Looking forward to summer so I can try out your icecream, and see if it beats the best I've ever had - liquid nitrogen icecream! :D)

  3. Liquid nitorgen icecream? LN is a bit hard to come by when you aren't in a chem class. But this works... and I know the thermodynamics behind it too!

  4. What an awesome idea! I love to cook, and I decided around Christmas time that I'm starting a new tradition: to attach a favorite recipe to every Christmas letter. For your birthay post, I'm passing to you the same recipe (I see you like pumpkin, so I hope you like it!)

    Pumpkin Pancakes


    2 cups all-purpose flour
    6 tablespoons brown sugar
    2 teaspoons baking powder
    1 teaspoon baking soda
    1 teaspoon ground allspice
    1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    1-1 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
    1/2 teaspoon salt
    1 1/2 cups milk (generous)
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    1 egg
    2 tablespoons vegetable oil
    2 tablespoons vinegar

    In a bowl, mix together the wet ingredients, and then add the dry ingredients. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan and scoop batter onto griddle. Spread it out a little with a spoon (batter is thick) for even cooking.

    We make these almost every week. Hope you like it!

  5. Oh! Yum! Thank you.... I'll add this to my collection.

    I think for Christmas this year I'm sending everyone a tree. There are several charities that will let you adopt a tree or an acre of rainforest or a square foot of rainforest, or an animal..... I'd rather get that for my family than try to find another present for my mother who has everything!

    But I might be nice and send them a recipe too.... :o)