Tag Archives: easy

2 Ingredient Ice Cream Bread!

close up of ice cream cake2

This bread is a dream come true for our son. Yep, two ingredients: Ice Cream and Self-Rising flour. Mix them together and bake. How great is that? My son and husband made a vanilla loaf this afternoon, using Ben and Jerry’s Vanilla ice cream.

Verdict: Easy, tasty, and a great canvas for experimenting with different flavors!

Denis first saw the cake recipe here:

The “bread”, which has a great crumb but is not too sweet, reminds me of Japanese desserts. It would actually make a great base for this Strawberry Shortcake if you baked it in cake rounds and frosted it with whipped cream and layered with strawberries.

We are already devising plans for making it with Butter Pecan and Rocky Road ice creams.:)

ice cream bread2

2-Ingredient Ice Cream “Bread”

1 pint of ice cream (2 cups)

1 1/2 cups self-rising flour (or 1 1/2 cups flour plus 2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/2 teaspoon salt)

  1. Preheat oven to 350 F.
  2. Soften ice cream so that it is very soft. You can speed the process up by heating it in a microwave oven for 30 seconds.
  3. Transfer ice cream to a bowl. Then add the flour gradually to it while stirring.
  4. Grease a loaf or cake pan with butter or non-stick spray (we also cut a piece of parchment and lined the bottom of the pan)
  5. Bake for 30-50 minutes, checking after about 25 minutes. Length of time depends on the kind of pan you use. For a loaf pan, it took about 40 minutes until it was golden on top and a skewer came out clean when poked in the center.
  6. Cool in pan for 5 minutes, then cool on rack and serve!

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under Children, Desserts, Grains, Snack

Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

sweet potato chips1

I have been addicted to these microwave sweet potato chips recently! Why? Because they taste great (obviously), AND they are sooo easy to make!  I’ve been keeping a peeled sweet potato in the refrigerator. When I want to have some fresh chips at lunch time, I just slice thin rounds with my mandolin, place on a parchment lined plate, season with parmesan and onion powder, and zap in the oven for three to four minutes.  How easy is that?

I was inspired by this recipe for sour cream chips.  I couldn’t find powdered buttermilk, so I just omitted it.  I also omitted the salt, which I found unnecessary.  I was dubious at first – -I have always made chips in the oven.  But invariably they would burn on the edges.  I thought microwaving these would produce soggy chips — and they did, the first time.  The trick is to slice them REALLY thin, and you need a mandolin to do this.

0926151301_resized

Now, I keep a peeled portion of sweet potato in the fridge, and whenever I want fresh chips, I just make them.  It’s so much easier than having to preheat an oven and attempting to bake them that way.  For some reason, the microwave ones may brown — watch closely at the end of cooking– but not much.  And it still tastes good — I actually prefer a bit of browning.  It is a very different flavor than the brown/black edges I would end up with baking traditionally.  Hope you try these! 🙂

sweet potato chips2

Microwave Sweet Potato Parmesan Chips

1 sweet potato (I peel mine, but you don’t have to!)

1 teaspoon grated Parmesan cheese

Pinch or two of onion powder

Non-stick olive oil spray

  1. Line a plate with parchment paper. Spray with non-stick spray.
  2. Slice some thin rounds of sweet potato with a mandolin.
  3. Arrange in one layer on parchment. Spray with non-stick spray.
  4. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese and onion powder.
  5. Microwave on high for about four minutes checking to see if they are getting too brown at about three minutes.
  6. Remove and eat! If you want to make a bigger batch and save in an air tight container for later, just repeat the process until you finish slicing the sweet potato.

sweet potato chips 3

15 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Snack, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Jamie’s Soup and My Society 6 Store

jamie'ssoup

I did a similar soup post way back when when I created this creamy green soup.  This one, however, is even easier, and I recently taught my ten year old to make it by himself!  It is his favorite soup these days, so I make it a lot. And now he can do the honors.  This is a good thing because I am so busy these days with MATS A and other work!

All you do is cut 2 large zucchini into slices.

cutting

Then you steam them in the microwave for about 6-8 minutes.

Place steamed zucchini into a Vitamix along with 2 cups of broth and season with some salt and pepper if you like.  Blend and serve!  If you want it warmer, just heat it a little for about 30 seconds.

Drinking the green yumminess!

Drinking the green yumminess!

This is what I did in my class last week– I designed a collection of ceramic plates:

MELISSA_IWAI_BEARANDBUNNY_4A_WK2REV

To read about the process, you can go here.  It was quite painful!  But all good. 🙂

Also, I just reopened my Society 6 store. I’ve been hesitant dipping my toes in the waters — I don’t know why….  But I made my first sale!  To myself!  ha ha.  I bought a pillow that has my bunny head design on it.  It is nothing really, but exciting to me, because it’s such a novelty for me!  There is a SALE in my store right now for $5 off everything plus FREE shipping until 11/9, so check it out!  🙂

Screen Shot 2014-11-05 at 3.53.01 PMJamie’s Zucchini Soup

2 zucchini

2 cups of chicken broth or other broth

salt and pepper to taste

1.  Cut zucchini into slices.  Place in large bowl and cover with saran.  Microwave for about 5-7 minutes until soft (it depends on your oven).  Alternatively, you can steam in a steamer on the stove for 8-10 minutes.

2.  Blend cooked zucchini and broth and seasonings in a Vitamix or blender until smooth.

Makes about 4 large bowls of soup.

 

16 Comments

Filed under Soup, Soup, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Slow Cooker Tomato Beef Sauce and Quickie Baked Pasta

beef pasta 1


I know I sound like a broken record, but I’m still crazy busy and haven’t had time to cook or bake anything very exciting!  Unfortunately since I’ve been working on client work, rather than personal pieces, I can’t show anything (until it’s published).  Here’s a peek at a sketch I did that will appear as part of a story in Highlight’s magazine for babies, Hello!  I also did the cover for that issue.

I had a lot of fun painting this little on and her mom!

I had a lot of fun painting this little one and her mom!

I’m also working on another Hidden Picture for a Let’s Play Hidden Pictures book, and working another Anne Rockwell story as well as several other projects.

 

The slow cooker has been my friend still, and last week, I threw together a baked pasta with an active prep time of about 15 minutes.  Here’s what I did:  In the late morning I threw a bunch of ingredients into the slow cooker (no pre-sauteing or anything! I also didn’t measure –the recipe is an estimate) and cooked it on low for about six hours.   Then 30 minutes before dinner, I preheated the oven to 350, boiled some water and cooked some rotini pasta. Next I assembled the pasta dish with the sauce and parmesan, and topped it with some shredded mozzarella  and baked it until it melted — about 10 minutes.  That’s it– dinner done.  I didn’t even add oil at the start, as I figured the meat and liquids would be sufficient, and they were.  The meat was moist and juicy, and the sauce was delicious.  It was a bit hit with my son, who had seconds. 🙂

I’ve also been (quickly) experimenting with cauliflower flat bread (see my previous version here) and chia pudding in my attempt to eat more whole foods even in the midst of stress and work.

cauliflower pizza with caramelized onions

 

I’ll post more on that later!  In the meantime, enjoy this easy, fast, and delicious beef pasta dish!

beef pasta 2

 

Easy Beef Pasta in Slow Cooker

1 lb. lean ground beef

1 small onion, diced

2 garlic cloves, minced

1 small can of tomato paste

1 small can of diced tomatoes

1 teaspoon sugar

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

kosher salt

pepper

1/3 cup red wine

1/2 lb. dried pasta of choice

1/2 lb. shredded mozarella (I used smoky)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

1.  Put beef through red wine into slow cooker.  Cook on low for about six hours, stirring every two hours or so.

2.  Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Cook pasta according to package instructions.  Drain.
3.  Return cooked pasta to pot and pour in beef sauce and grated parmesan.  Mix thoroughly.

4.  Pour pasta mixture into a casserole dish and sprinkle with shredded cheese.  Bake in oven until cheese is melted, about 10 minutes.

 

 

13 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Beef, Slow Cooker

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions and Easy Weeknight Mini Pizzas

Mini Pizza with caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, and mozzarrella

Mini Pizza with caramelized onions, artichoke hearts, and mozzarrella



I recently completed another Skillshare class (Character Illustration from Concept to Final Artwork)!  I almost didn’t take this one because I felt character development is something I’m pretty capable of doing.  But it also has an Illustrator and Photoshop component, and I felt I can always learn more about creating digital art.  I’m really glad I did take it, because I was introduced to some key things that I will definitely use in my work — for example, importing layers into Photoshop from Illustrator (who knew!!?).  I don’t know if I will end up working exactly this way in the future, but going through the process was really valuable and a great learning experience!  And I did learn things I am using now that I didn’t before. 🙂 Here is my work process for this assignment: I first did sketches of pirates and chose a final one to take to final: roughs

This is the one I decided to work with.

This is the one I decided to work with.

This is my pirate after I drew every shape in Illustrator.  it was WAY tedious!

This is my pirate after I drew every shape in Illustrator. it was WAY tedious!

This is the pirate after rendering it in Photoshop -- I realm I am a lot more comfortable in!

This is the pirate after rendering it in Photoshop — a realm I am a lot more comfortable in!

This is a full illustration incorporating the character.  I will use this as a promotional piece.  I used a lot of techniques I learned in the Skillshare class, so I'm really happy I took it.

This is a full illustration incorporating the character. I will use this as a promotional piece with my artist rep. I used a lot of techniques I learned in the Skillshare class, so I’m really happy I took the class!

With these various projects going on, the slow cooker has been my friend.

My bestie!

My bestie!

Our favorite dish is Slow Cooker Pulled Pork.  It’s so great to throw everything in the cooker and forget about it.   In 6-8 hours, you’ll have tender, tasty meat. Ooey and gooey, and yummy I tend to avoid chicken in the slow cooker, unless it’s dark meat though.  White meat tends to dry out. Recently, I knew I wanted to saute some onions for easy Mini Pizzas I was planning for a quickie dinner.  That morning, I had the brainstorm of throwing some sliced onions in the slow cooker and letting it cook all afternoon while I was out.  That cut down on about 20 minutes of sauteing later in the evening– 20 minutes of precious time I could be working!  I just used one onion and drizzled it with some olive oil.  It cooked on low for 4 hours.  But next time, I will buy a bag of onions and a bunch at one time.  This might take closer to 6 hours to cook. onions 2
You end up with soft, sweet, meltingly tender onions.  They can be store in the refrigerator and used throughout the week in omelets, fritattas, quesadillas, burritos… I’ve even put them on my salads.  They are soo good!

For this batch, though, I put them on our mini pizzas for a FAST week night meal!

How about you all– what are some slow cooker recipes you can’t live without that make life easier?

onions 1

Slow Cooker Caramelized Onions

Some onions, sliced vertically in to 1/4 inch slices

Drizzle of olive oil to coat

Pinch of kosher salt

1.  Put sliced onions in slow cooker and drizzle with olive oil.  Season with salt.  Stir.
2.  Cook on low for about 4-6 hours.

pizza 2

Mini Pizzas

Mini or Regular sized whole wheat pitas

Your favorite marinara sauce (or homemade!)

Shredded cheese

Slow cooker onions

Chopped artichoke hearts

Any other topping you would like!

1.  Preheat oven to 400 degrees F (I use our toaster oven).

2. Spoon some sauce on each of the pitas.  Top with toppings.

3.  Cook in oven about 8-10 minutes depending on how crunchy you like it (place directly on rack).

4.  Slice into wedges and eat! 🙂

25 Comments

Filed under Art Related, Dinner, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

Easy Weeknight Panini

Prosciutto and havarti panini

Prosciutto and havarti panini

Juggling too many projects at the moment!  I haven’t been cooking anything too complicated or time consuming recently.  Our dinners have been very E.A.S.Y.  Check out this post for what I am talking about!  Luckily, my guys are OK with it.

A new 5 minute worthy dinner I started making recently is panini.  I use Tuscan Pane from Trader Joes, but any good, hearty artisanal bread would work.  All you have to do is heat a grill pan (I have a cast iron one), brush some olive oil on the outside slices of the bread, make a sandwich with it using whatever filling you like, and grill it.  You’ll get a fabulous panini — you know the kind that costs upwards of $7 (Panera) and $10 – $15 (Le Pain Quotidien) for a fraction of the cost — maybe a couple dollars each?  Serve with a salad or soup, and you’re done.

I made Denis’ with prosciutto and havarti.   Jamie’s  was with prosciutto, shredded Monterey Jack and olive tapenade.  Mine was with roasted turkey, Monterey Jack, roasted cauliflower, and olive tapenade.   That’s the other great thing about panini:  It is easy to keep everyone happy.  🙂

Easy Weeknight Panini

olive oil for brushing, about 1 tablespoon depending on how many sandwiches you are making

Good quality sliced bread – I used Tuscan Pane

Fillings:  sliced meats, cheeses, spreads like hummus, sun dried tomato, tapenade, roasted vegetables, arugula, caramelized onions, marshmallows… (just kidding!  Although, a sweet panini with marshmallows and chocolate chips and pb doesn’t sound bad — hey, that might be in another post!)

1.  Heat grill pan on medium heat.

2.  While grill pan is heating, brush olive oil on the outside sides of two pieces of bread.

3.  Make a sandwich with said bread.  Place on grill pan.  Weight with a heavy object, like a cast iron skillet.  If you don’t have one, put a baking sheet on top and weight with a pot or two.

I weight mine with a cast iron skillet placed right on top.

I weight mine with a cast iron skillet placed right on top.

4. Grill for about 40 seconds to a minute depending on how crispy you want it.  Remove weight, and flip panini with tongs (you need them to grab it quickly).  Place weight on again and grill for another 30-40 seconds.

The panini is crispy on the outside and chewy and creamy with the melted cheese in the middle.

The panini is crispy on the outside and chewy and creamy with the melted cheese in the middle.

 

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Filed under Cookies, Dinner, Grains

Easy Weeknight Pork Enchilada Casserole

Ooey and gooey, and yummy

Ooey and gooey, and yummy


Imagine this:  It’s a weeknight and you need to make dinner fast.  Instead of take out (which actually takes some time because you have to order and then go pick it up or wait for it to be delivered), make this!

I used leftover slow cooker pork shoulder, but you could easily use shredded rotisserie chicken instead.

I was inspired by this recipe from Cooking Light.  Instead of seasoned ground beef, I used pre-cooked pork, and instead of the enchilada sauce, I got really lazy and used bottled barbecue sauce.  We love Trader Joe’s Bold and Smoky Kansas City Style Barbecue Sauce.  It’s tangy and tasty, but not spicy (for the little one).  tj sauce

Saute some onions, and mix in the pork or chicken and the barbecue sauce.  Add a handful of cheese.  Layer mixture in pie pan with flour tortillas. Top with a bit more sauce and cheese and bake until melted.  Easy peasy!

In the pie pan

In the pie pan

Cut into wedges and serve.

ooey gooey up close

Easy Weeknight Pork Enchilada Casserole

Non-stick spray

¼ cup onion, diced

1 teaspoon oil

2 ½ cups leftover pulled pork (see recipe here) or shredded rotisserie chicken

1/3 cup barbecue sauce

4 flour tortillas

1/2 cup grated cheese

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray a pie dish with spray. Set aside.
  2. Sauté onion with oil in a large pan until soft.  Add pork and 1/3 cup of the barbecue sauce. Stir together to combine and sauté gently until heated through.  Stir in a handful of the grated cheese, and remove pan from heat and set aside.
  3. Place one tortilla in pie dish.  Spread 1/3 of pork mixture on top. I divide the mixture in the pan first by making a “peace” sign with three equal portions, so I have a clear idea of what 1/3 of the total is.   Cover with another flour tortilla.  Continue to layer with another  1/3 of pork mixture, another tortilla, and last 1/3 of pork mixture.  Cover with last tortilla.
  4. Spread rest of  barbecue sauce on top layer.  Sprinkle with grated cheese.  Bake in oven for about 10 minutes until cheese melts.  Cut into wedges and serve.

6 Comments

Filed under chicken, Dinner, Pork

Easy Weeknight Baked Pasta with Meat and Veggies


Trying to get some vegetables into your diet?  (Sneaking in more vegetables in your kids’ diet also counts!)

Here is an easy weeknight dish that accomplishes that, and even meat eaters will approve.
I think it was in Mark Bittman’s Food Matters that I first read about the benefits of stretching meat centric dishes with vegetables and/or grains.  It’s a nice compromise, because you are not cutting out meat completely–if you are an omnivore–but just reducing the amount and bulking up on vegetables and grains.  This accomplishes a lot of great things at once:

From a health standpoint, eating less saturated fats and more healthy fats from plants is always a good thing.

From an environmental standpoint, eating less meat and more plants is also a good thing.

From your pocket book’s standpoint, it is a lot cheaper to maintain a diet heavier on plants (especially if you grow a lot of them–something I, unfortunately, haven’t had to luck of doing) rather than on meats.

My husband is a meat person — I’ve mentioned before he only used to eat brown food (think bacon, beef, chicken, potatoes, peanut butter, bread, etc.) for a lot of his life before we got together!  I’m not going to force him to become a vegetarian — it would never work anyway.  And I eat meat also — just not so much red meat.

This is a simple, fast weeknight dish that you can adapt to suit your preference.  If you like more meat, add more.  No meat, omit it.  You can swap ground turkey or chicken for the beef.  Use whatever vegetable you like.  Since zucchini is a family favorite, I use it.  But I think this dish would also be great with eggplant, mushrooms, peppers, even fall friendly vegetables like butternut or acorn squash.  The more variety of colors, the better!  Just be sure to cut the pieces into similar sizes.

Fiori pasta is so cute.

 

I used Fiori pasta because I had a package in the pantry, but any bite sized pasta would work well.

Make a meat and vegetable sauce.

Béchamel sauce cooking.

Make a Béchamel sauce if you’d like an extra layer of flavor and richness.

Pasta topped with Béchamel sauce,

Yum!

Topped with grated mozzarella.

Top with mozzarella — note:  Freeze the mozzarella about 30-60 minutes before grating, so it is easier to grate!

Spotted from some broiler action.

Throw in the broiler for a quick melt and you’re done!

Easy Weeknight Baked Pasta with Meat and Veggies (based on Rachel Ray’s Baked Ziti)

Lb. pasta of your choice (I used Fiori)

Kosher salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup chopped onion (one whole small onion)

½ lb. ground meat (I used lean beef)

3 cups chopped vegetable (I used one large zucchini)

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 28 oz. can diced or crushed tomatoes

pepper to taste

For Béchamel Sauce (optional):

1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon flour

1 cup milk

grated nutmeg to taste

nonstick spray

¼ cup grated parmesan

4 oz. grated mozzarella

  1. Bring large pot of water to boil.  Season with salt.
  2. While waiting for water to boil, put mozzarella in freezer to firm up.  Heat oil in a large skillet or pot over medium heat.
  3. Sauté onions and beef until beef is no longer pink.  Add garlic and let cook until fragrant.  Add zucchini or other vegetable.  Sauté until softened slightly.  Add canned tomatoes.  Turn heat down to low, cover, and let simmer, stirring occasionally until vegetables are soft, about 20 minutes.
  4. If using, make béchamel sauce.  Melt butter in a small saucepan.  Add flour and quickly whisk with butter to prevent from clumping.  Sauté for a minute.  Gradually add a little bit of milk while whisking.  Don’t add it too fast, or the sauce will become lumpy.  Add just enough at a time to smooth it out.  When it is the consistency of a smooth, liquid paste, add the rest of milk, while whisking.  Season with salt, pepper and grated nutmeg to taste.  Let simmer and thicken about five minutes.
  5. Meanwhile cook pasta al dente according to package instructions.  Set aside.
  6. Preheat broiler.  Coat the bottom of a 13 x 9 inch baking dish with spray or olive oil.  Set aside.
  7. Assemble baked pasta. Combine cooked pasta and cooked sauce in the large pot you used to cook the pasta in.  Add grated parmesan. Stir to combine.  Transfer to baking dish.  Top with a layer of béchamel sauce.  Cover with grated mozzarella.  Broil in oven until cheese is melted and is starting to brown, about 2-3 minutes.

13 Comments

Filed under Beef, Dinner, Pasta, Vegetables