Roasted Root Veggies

This a classic common sense recipe. By that I mean, there really isn’t a recipe and you should probably learn this and add it to your portfolio of skills. It’s easy, delicious and can be adjusted to match many meals.

It’s perfect for daily dinners or if you splurge on some multi-colored carrots it can be fancy enough for gatherings and holiday dinners. I love drizzling this with some balsamic glaze or throwing a handful of leftover veggies on a salad the next day for lunch.

I’ve included rough ingredient estimates because I don’t think I’ve ever measured them.


  • Ingredients:
    • 4ish cups root veggies: carrots, sweet potatoes, red, yellow, purple potatoes, etc.
    • 2-4 tbsp olive oil
    • salt
    • pepper
  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
    2. Chop your veggies into 1-2 inch cubes/chunks.
      • Note: The smaller you cut, the faster they cook. If I’m in a big hurry, I chop them tiny to cut the cooking time down as much as possible.
    3. Toss the veggies with the olive oil, salt, pepper, and any additional spices you want.
    4. Spread them out on a lined baking sheet and bake 25-35 minutes,
      • Note: You’re looking for the insides to be soft when poked with a fork and outsides that are slightly shriveled/crisped.
  • Alternate variations:
    • mix it up with some different combos.
      • garlic powder and smoked paprika
      • rosemary and basil
      • apples and onion
      • lemon pepper and chives
      • cayenne and chili powder
      • add some sausage straight to the pan and make it a full pan dinner
      • the variations are endless, go crazy with them!

 

Prost! Mahlzeit!
Esther

Kinderpunsch on St. Nikolaus Day

Happy St. Nikolaus Day!

St. Nikolaus and I had a rocky start to our friendship. In southern German and Austrian homes, St. Nikolaus comes for a visit, bringing gifts in exchange for songs and kisses.

My first encounter with him at our door was when I was two. My poor father, who was in fact the man underneath the St. Nikolaus costume, still tells the story about how “pure terror” filled little Essie’s eyes when he came in the door. Even with his fake white beard removed, this is still the best picture my mom was able to snap:

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In case you’re worried I always rewarded my parents’ efforts to create special traditions and memories for their children with fear and ingratitude, I offer these pictures that later years were more successful and smile-filled:

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However, since I don’t live with my parents anymore and I have yet to convince Dave, my husband, to dress up as an Armenian Bishop, our St. Nikolaus Day celebration will be more low key. It’ll include some popcorn, Kinderpunsch, and cozy Advent candles.

Kinderpunsch is a hot beverage served in steaming mugs at German and Austrian Christmas markets. This non-alcoholic alternative to Glühwein is a mixture of cider, juice and tea.

Three years ago, Dave and I spent Christmas overseas with my Austrian relatives and visited as many of the markets as possible. We made a point to buy a Punsch at each one and kept the mugs as souvenir. Every Advent I love unpacking our little mug collection and making this Kinderpunsch recipe as a cozy tradition.


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  • Ingredients:
    • 1 cup orange juice
    • 1 cup apple cider
    • 1 cup water
    • 1 cinnamon stick
    • 1 bag hibiscus tea
    • 1/2 tbsp honey
  • Instructions:
    1. Heat juice, cider, water and cinnamon to a simmer.
    2. Add tea bags for 2-3 minutes.
    3. Remove tea bags.
    4. Add honey.
    5. Allow to simmer for at least 10 minutes. You can just keep it on the stove quietly simmering while it fills your home with amazing smells.
    6. To serve, fill into cozy Christmas mugs and sip with loved ones, preferably with a lit candle or two or ten.
  • Serves: 2 (I highly recommend tripling or quadrupling this in a huge vat and enjoying it every evening this week)

Prost!

Essie

 

Friday Faves: Christmas Decor

Happy Friday!

Have you decked your halls? Hung your mistletoe? Filled every nook and cranny of your home with cheer and joy?

Oh no? Don’t worry, neither have we. Hannah is still living in an Airbnb and Essie hasn’t done anything other than put candles everywhere. It’s ok, decorations are meant to bring joy and not stress. Let them happen organically, as time and inspiration find you.

We enjoy simple, homemade decor, especially if the ingredients are cheap and already in our kitchens. Here are two of our favorites!


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Essie: Cinnamon Ornaments

Ingredients:

    • 1 cup of applesauce
    • 1 1/2 cups cinnamon
    • 1 tbsp cloves (optional)

Directions:

  1. Mix applesauce with cup of cinnamon and cloves in kitchen mixer. Slowly add additional cinnamon as mixer continues to mix. It should leave the sides of the bowl and become a nice ball of dough. If it looks too wet, add more cinnamon. Too dry, add more applesauce.
  2. Spread parchment paper on cookie sheets.
  3. Sprinkle cinnamon like you would flour on your surface. Roll out the dough until it is 1/8-1/4 inch thick.
  4. Cut various shapes out with cookie cutters and use a tooth pick or straw to make holes for stringing.
  5. Preheat your oven to 200 degrees. Bake for 1.5-2 hours. Turn off your oven and allow to continue drying overnight. They should be completely dry and rock hard, otherwise put them back in the oven and give them more dry time.
  6. Thread a string through the holes, hot glue onto ribbon or just hold them up to your nose and sniff the lovely cinnamony scent.

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Hannah: Dried Oranges

So, I made these for the first time last year, inspired by my friend Libby, who lived in Germany at the time. She had decorated her beautiful evergreen tree with dried oranges and combined with the lights on the tree they look like tiny stained glass windows. I loved how festive and simple they are so it’ll be a returning decoration for our home

“Ingredients”:

    • 3 or so oranges
    • thin string
    • a tapestry needle
    • parchment paper
    • a baking sheet.

Slice your oranges into slices that are about 1/8″ thick. You want them to be thin enough that they dry in the oven, but not so thin that they’re very brittle and break.

Lay the orange slices on parchment paper on the baking sheet and bake them at the lowest temperature your oven has. Libby set hers at 100, but my parents’ oven didn’t go lower than 180, which worked just fine. Bake them until they’re dry and stiff. When I made them they were still fairly sticky and pliable. This could take quite a few hours, so pop them in while you’re doing other stuff and come back to it!

Thread your tapestry needle with the string and weave the thread through the top of the orange slice so it hangs flat. If you just thread it through once, the oranges will face to the side, which is a very different look. The stickiness of the oranges should hold them in place fairly well so you don’t have to knot the string or anything to keep them from sliding to the middle when you hang them on your mantle. If you hang them on your tree, simply thread it through the top of the orange and tie it off like a little ornament.


Tag @commonsensekitchen on the socials to give us a peek at your kitchen crafting adventures. Happy decorating!

Hannah & Essie

Apple Crisp

Just a month ago, we were drowning under one of Michigan’s biggest apple crops. My mother sent me home with buckets and buckets from her tree. We made more apple sauce, pies and crisps than we could possibly eat. We may have even been a little sick of apples, though we didn’t want to admit it because they were so good.

Finally, we threw out hands up in the air and just started freezing them. My mom has one of those handy dandy peelers that does it all for you. We’d get them all peeled, cored, and cut, stick them in bags and freeze them. This is by far my new favorite way to process fall apples. It’s been so nice to grab a bag or two and make baked apple goodies whenever I want.

Seasonal cooking means we use what currently grows and is ripe. However, we also put away some of that bounty to enjoy later. This apple crisp is ideal for apples that aren’t perfect or pretty to look at, like previously frozen ones, seconds or just a little older.

I’ve been perfecting this recipe all fall, so it truly is the best. All goopy and bubbly and just the right amount of sweetness without overshadowing apples’ natural flavor.


  •  Ingredients:
    • Crumb topping:
      • 1/4 cup flour
      • 1/2 cup old fashioned oats
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • 1/2 tsp baking powder
      • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
      • 1/3 cup butter diced into small chunks
    • Apple filling:
      • 4-6 cups apples, peeled and cut
      • 4 tbsp butter
      • 1 tbsp flour
      • 1 tbsp lemon juice
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
      • 1/4 cup sugar
      • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • Directions:
    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
    2. Sift together all crumb topping ingredients except butter until well mixed.
    3. Add butter and incorporate with hands or fork until crumbly. Set aside.
    4. To make the filling, melt the butter in a saucepan or in the microwave.
    5. Add the flour, lemon juice, vanilla, sugar and cinnamon. Mix well.
    6. Pour over the apples and stir until the apples are well covered.
    7. Dump apples into a baking dish (pie plate, 8×8, etc).
    8. Crumble the topping over it.
    9. Bake for 30-45 minutes, until apples are bubbly and topping is toasty.

Mahlzeit!

Essie