On My Mind 11/20/2012

I love this. That is all.

Under the heading of Social Media:

Since I never post anything of interest on it, I am giving up my Frantically Simple Facebook page. You are all invited to subscribe to my author page instead, if you like. I hope to have good news to share there sometime in the near future.
Sidebar link has been updated to reflect the change.
Also: I have a Tumblr now.

Chalking. Adorable form of self expression and so much nicer than a tattoo to the face.

We use pastel chalks on dry hair. It washes out after one or two washes.

Newt also wears lipstick and mascara now. She is really growing up.
I really like who she is growing up to be.

This happened…

…and it made me very happy. (Don’t grow up too fast, Newt.)

We will be making this again:
edible Thanksgiving centerpiece

You can make one too!

Or, a fun tablerunner.
Or learn how to cook a turkey.
Or learn how to ruin a turkey. Twice.

We don’t have books in the dining room any more, but maybe this is a mistake? Books should live everywhere!

Speaking of Thanksgiving: I’m thankful for you!
Have a lovely holiday.

In Which Heidi Pretends to Be the Butterball Hotline

You guys, it’s almost time.

(If you are reading via email, you may want to click over and watch that video and laugh a little. It would be good for you. Hat tip to Ali.)

It occurred to me today that this is my sixteenth Thanksgiving as a married woman. (That made me feel old in a way that nothing else ever has. Even though I was practically a child bride.) With the exception of a few sad notable restaurant years, I have cooked every Thanksgiving meal. As such, I have built up some kitchen cred.
Since I am a giver, I thought it would be nice to share my knowledge. I turned to social media and asked:

Carol asked:

I had no idea. Remember when I tried going vegan and my hair started falling out? I can’t find a link, but I’m sure I mentioned it…
Anyway, thankfully, Barbara fielded that one:


And then she swore at me:

Tough crowd.

Over on facebook Sara asked: Will I survive Thanksgiving?
My answer? Yes, but just barely.

And Sarah (with an h) asked: Why do people make “traditions” out of food no one actually likes?
My reply: The same reason we spend holidays with people we don’t like*, doing things we don’t like: because it makes us happy. Right? Right? *cries*

Sarah also asked about stuffing. Hurray, something I actually know about. I referred her to this post.

Tara** wanted to know how to cook a turkey breast without it drying out. The answer is the same for a whole turkey. Use a brown paper bag.

How to Cook a Turkey in a Paper Bag

  • Prepare your turkey as you normally would: thaw; brine, if that’s your thing, or don’t, if it is not; rinse and pat dry; rub with olive oil and/or melted butter and whatever herbs and seasonings you prefer.
  • Place turkey in a large, new paper grocery bag.
  • Poke a meat thermometer through the bag into the meatiest part of the thigh (make sure not to touch the any bone).
  • Fold over bag opening and staple shut.
  • Place, breast side up, on a roasting pan with rack and place in oven, making sure that bag does not touch sides or heating elements.
  • Roast as usual. (I cook it at 350 until the internal temperature is 180 degrees.) Here is a handy chart, if you need it. And one for turkey breast only.
  • Cut open your paper bag and allow turkey to rest for 30 minutes before carving.

I promise, it will not be dry. Also most of the drippings will have filtered through the bottom of the bag to the roasting pan. These make wonderful gravy.

Here is a picture of last year’s masterpiece, taken moments too late to be very pretty.

Sorry. We were hungry.

Any other questions? Drop me a comment and I’ll see what I can do.



*Note: I like all my people. Don’t cry, Mom.

**Sara, Sarah, and Tara are not my only friends, but they should be. We would be a little like Heathers.
Note to self: find a scrunchy and start wearing it immediately.

Muy Bueno Chicken Tortilla Soup

There is a sweet little lady at my church that I adore. She looks like the perfect ideal of a grandmother – with her white hair, glasses, twinkly eyes, and ready smile. She plays the organ in our main service and the piano for the children in Sunday School. She is wonderful.
Last week, I heard that she was home sick, so I came home from church and scrounged through my pantry and freezer. I found quite a few “Mexican-style” ingredients so I made a huge batch of chicken tortilla soup to share with my friend. I didn’t use a recipe, but I did pay attention to what I put in it, just in case I wanted to make it again.
Well, guess what? I do want to make it again.
I loved it.
Newt loved it.
Walt even loved it, and he is not a soup guy.
Best of all, my dear friend loved it.
This recipe is for her.


Muy Bueno Chicken Tortilla Soup
Recipe type: Soup
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 10
Ole! In minutes you can have a huge pot of yummy Chicken Tortilla Soup - plenty to freeze or share.
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2 - 4 oz. cans roasted green chiles
  • 1 - 15 oz. can corn
  • 2 - 15 oz. cans black beans
  • 1 - 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1 - 14 oz. can red enchilada sauce
  • 2 cups cooked, diced chicken
  • 10 corn tortillas, cut into one inch squares
  • 8 cups chicken broth (I use homemade)
  • Salt to taste
  • garnish: cheddar or Cotija cheese, sour cream
  1. Saute onions, pepper, and garlic until browned.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and simmer for at least 10 minutes.
  3. Garnish with cheese and/or sour cream.

Recipe for my homemade chicken stock

Homemade Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping

Disclaimer: I am not a big ice-creamer. I like it, but I don’t love it. Ice cream has never sung me a siren song. Instead it hums a tuneless little ditty under it’s frosty breath.
Easy to ignore.
That is until I add a delightfully yummy chocolate shell:

Then I’ll go back for seconds. Or thirds…

Two ingredients and no* dishes to wash. It really is magic.

Homemade Magic Shell Ice Cream Topping
Recipe type: Dessert
Liquid at room temperature. Solid on ice cream. Easy to make and no mess. Make it and feel like a kitchen witch. Magic.
  • 1¼ cups chocolate, cut from a block or use chips - I use half dark, half milk
  • 2 Tablespoons of coconut oil
  1. Place all ingredients into a pint sized mason jar.
  2. Microwave for 30 seconds at a time until melted.
  3. Stir/whisk with a fork until smooth and well blended.
  4. Pour over ice cream. Allow a minute or so to harden.
  5. Cap leftover Magic Shell. Lick your fork. Dishes are done.
Store at room temperature. If sauce hardens, just microwave for a few seconds until pourable.

*Heidi does not actually advocate licking your dishes clean, but she won’t judge you if you do.

Book Club Brownies with Nutella Frosting

Newt had the most excellent idea: a summer book club for her friends and their mamas. We had our first meeting earlier this week and we discussed Kathryn Fitzmaurice’s lovely The Year the Swallows Came Early. We talked about everything from achieving your childhood dreams to discovering that your parents are not perfect.
Chocolate covered strawberries are featured in the book, so we had to have some (there is even a recipe at the back, though we subbed coconut oil for Crisco). But given the er…specific timing of book club this month, more chocolate was called for, if you know what I mean.
I modified a cocoa brownie recipe from Smitten Kitchen and added Nutella frosting inspired by My Baking Addiction (though the brownies would have been delightful even unadorned).
Warning: this is not a health food. Two tiny squares had enough sugar to keep me up until 2am. But while I was awake, I was feeling happy.

Book Club Brownies with Nutella Frosting
Recipe type: Dessert
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 25
Rich, dark and fudgy brownies topped with Nutella frosting. Forget the book, let's just eat.
  • 10 tablespoons butter
  • 1¼ cups sugar
  • ¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs, cold
  • ½ cup minus 1 Tablespoon white whole wheat flour
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped hazelnuts (optional)
  • ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened
  • ½ cup Nutella
  • ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • Up to 1½ cups powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 325. Line 8x8 pan with foil. Grease.
  2. Place butter, sugar, cocoa, and salt in a microwave safe bowl. Heat in microwave on high, 30 seconds at a time (stirring with a wooden spoon after each round) until butter is melted and mixture is very warm.
  3. Stir for a few moments to cool a bit.
  4. Add vanilla. Stir.
  5. Add eggs, stirring well after each one.
  6. Add flour and stir until well mixed and batter is shiny.
  7. Fold in nuts.
  8. Bake for 25 -30 minutes or until set and toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  9. Prepare Frosting: With a wire whisk or hand beater, beat together butter, Nutella, vanilla, and cream until smooth. Add powdered sugar, ½ cup at a time until desired consistency.


Fish Tacos

Planning a little Cinco de Mayo dinner at home this weekend? How about some fish tacos? If you’ve never had them, don’t be scared. They are not as weird as they may sound. If you have had them, well then, you know what I’m talking about, right?

I make awesome fish tacos, if I do say so myself: lightly spiced, pan-seared fish and a crispy cabbage slaw wrapped in a corn tortilla. Me gusto!

Want to be an awesome fish taco maker too? The recipe is near and dear to my heart: it was one of the first ones I ever made up. It is highly adjustable. Feel free to use more or less spices.

5.0 from 1 reviews
Fish Tacos
Recipe type: Main
This is one of those dinnertime powerhouses: few ingredients, easy to make, no side dishes really necessary, and best of all, tasty. Ole!
  • 2-3 filets mild white fish, I generally use tilapia
  • olive oil
  • cumin
  • garlic salt
  • cayenne pepper
  • salt
  • lime juice
  • ¼ head cabbage, sliced
  • 2 stalks green onion, chopped
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • ¼ cup sour cream
  1. Pat fish dry.
  2. Mix together 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp garlic salt, pinch cayenne pepper, and ½ tsp salt. Generously sprinkle over fish.
  3. Heat 1 tsp olive-oil in pan on medium-high. Add fish and cook until flaky, about 4 minutes per side.
  4. Remove from pan and set aside.
  5. Mix mayo and sour cream. Add 1 tsp cumin, ½ tsp garlic salt, pinch of cayenne pepper, and 1 tsp lime juice. Stir together.
  6. Toss dressing over cabbage and onion.
  7. Assemble tacos: place a portion of fish and cabbage slaw on warmed corn tortillas.


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