Saturday, October 30, 2010

Baby Steps: Veggies

I am willing to admit it now:  mistakes were made in trying to get Will to eat healthfully.  For example, we did not offer a big variety of different fruits and veggies from the beginning.  Instead, we kind of allowed him to get stuck on one or two.  Also, we got into a nasty habit of making him separate meals from whatever we were eating every night.  That's been broken in the past year, and I'm happy to say that he will usually try just about anything once and doesn't give us a fuss.  Though every once in a while he will get a peanut butter and jelly sandwich if we're having something super-spicy. 

Now that Sean is going to be ten months old in a couple of weeks, we've started a little bit of table food.  He had peas and a little bit of rice this afternoon, and once I mashed the peas slightly he loved them.  Tonight, I sliced up a steamed green bean really fine and he enjoyed picking it up and stuffing them in his mouth.  He's at that stage where he'll eat anything we put in front of him.  Boy, I miss that!  The trick is to continue offering different things, and I'm determined to be more successful this time. 

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

I'm a little behind on food posts, so let me catch up....

There was a special feature on banana breads in the October Cooking Light, and the Peanut Butter Banana Bread sounded fantastic!  I love a peanut butter banana sandwich, so obviously this would be the best version of that.  Finding myself with a little extra time last Sunday, I started to put it together.  Much to my chagrin, it called for some ingredients I didn't have on-hand.  Whole wheat flour....flaxseed....nope, not in my kitchen.  I'm hoping to change some of that in the near future as I have an appointment with a nutritionist next week.  But---the idea of peanut butter banana bread was already imprinted on my brain, so to my friend Google I go. 

The recipe I ended up going with called for walnuts, but I substituted shelled peanuts to give it extra peanutty flavor.  It was so good, I brought some to work to share.  Will loved it for breakfast, too.  Definitely something I want to make again.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Last Night's Dinner:  Chicken Breasts Stuffed with Goat Cheese.

I love goat cheese, I really do.  It pairs well with nuts like pistachios, and I really enjoy it on crackers and accompanied with grapes.  It makes a roasted veggie roll-up special and it melts nicely into a sauce as well.  So when I had some goat cheese left over from another recipe, I was happy to find something to use it up.

I get a lot of magazines, and I found this recipe in this month's Family Circle. , in an article about quick weeknight dinners.  I'm always game for new weeknight dinner recipes!  They suggested serving it with angel hair pasta and steamed green beans, but I wasn't in the mood for pasta and opted for rice instead.   I really should learn to read ahead, because there was a sauce to sop the pasta in.  Oh well, it went well over the rice too!

  The end result  It also called for sun-dried tomatoes, and I guess I'm just not too crazy about those.  They're very sweet and not at all what I think of when having tomatoes.  Brian had trouble with the goat cheese because of the texture.  (He is a texture guy....hating things like cheesecake and beans because they're "mishy."  Sometimes this makes our kitchen adventures challenging.)

Better luck next time, I think!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Tooting my Own Horn

I made a batch of chili on Saturday night and I have got to say, it's one of the best batches ever.  :)  The difference this time is that instead of just ground beef, I also put chunked-up pork tenderloin.   The rest is just crushed tomatoes, diced tomatoes, spices, onion and peppers.  In order to have dinner on the table faster, the only accompaniment this time was corn bread fresh from the oven and a blend of cheddar and Monterey Jack cheeses.  Brian and I put it in bowls and then crumbled the corn bread over the top, then sprinkled the cheese.  Yum!!

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Savory Turnovers

When you think of a turnover, what do you picture?  I see sugary, buttery dough, with either raspberry or apple filling.  After seeing a recipe in Cooking Light this month for Squash and Apple Turnovers, I knew that I had to try it.

They were pretty labor-intensive, taking several days to make.  Well, I suppose that's not entirely truthful.  It took ME several days to make them.  I bought the goat cheese at lunch one day and left it in the fridge at work, so that's one day lost.  Then yesterday while I was sauteeing the apple and squash, I discovered that the "can of dinner rolls" was actually biscuit dough.  Score for biscuits, but dinner rolls is what the recipe called for.  So I got crescent rolls and rolled them out....well I attempted and then assigned Hubby with that task since he is so much more patient with it!  I put a few tablespoons of butternut squash, braeburn apple, onion and goat cheese mixture on the dough circle, folded 'em up and sealed them with the tines of a fork. 

The end result?  Savory fall goodness that will make a fantastic lunch this week.  Perhaps with a bowl of steamy-hot soup.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Anniversary Dinner

For our tenth wedding anniversary, Brian and I took a trip to New York City to have dinner, catch a show and stay in a fancy hotel.  It was fantastic!  I've already summed up the rest of the trip on my other blog so now it's time for all who've been waiting to hear about it, the food!

We stayed at "The London" on W 54th.  Very impressive, simple and beautiful hotel.  It is also the home of not one but two of Gordon Ramsay's Restaurants.  Yes....Gordon Ramsay, as in "Hell's Kitchen."  I don't watch the show but I have heard plenty about it and have several friends that do.  I have heard enough about the show to know that he yells a lot and one friend of mine asked me (after proclaiming her intense jealousy) if I had any urges to call anyone a "stupid donkey" while I was there.  No, I did not!  :)

There are two restaurants on-site.  One is fancier (albeit more expensive) and the other one is smaller and more intimate. We chose the smaller one, which is called Maze.  After perusing the menu we opted for the "Tasting Menu" which consisted of five courses including dessert.

First Course:  Sweet Corn Soup with Shrimp and Nectarine.  These are flavors I would never think of putting together, but they paired very well!  The sweetness was perfect and not over-the-top.  I actually found myself wanting another bowl.

Second Course:  Watermelon Salad with Tomato and Feta.  Again, three things I'd never put together but this was soooo refreshing.  I'd make this for a summer party for sure. 

Third Course:  Roasted Sea Scallop with English Peas and Tomatoes.  Clearly the biggest roast scallop I have ever seen!!  It was cooked perfectly with no rubber-like texture.  There was just enough butter to moisten it, and the peas and baby tomatoes were a lovely accompaniment.

Fourth Course:  Split Menu.  Brian chose the steak and I opted for the salmon.  The steak came with pommes anna, and "spiced eggplant."  It was more like an eggplant puree, which Brian politely declined.  My salmon came with butternut squash and gnocchi.  The salmon was perfect!  I guess I'm not a gnocchi fan though, I've tried it a couple of times and I'm just not into it. 

Final Course:   The Dessert.  Brian chose a chocolate pudding-like concoction infused with cardamom, with almond ice cream on the side.  Mmmmm.......just like the center of a molten chocolate cake!  And the almond ice cream was obviously fresh, and definitely something I'd like to taste again.  My dessert was a custard cream with fresh berries and strawberry sorbet.  Again, very fresh sorbet, I'm usually not a fan of strawberry liquids or desserts but this was incredible. 

So, in conclusion I'd say that dinner was excellent.  Not the best meal of my life (which was a discussion had at dinner, we challenged each other to name the best dinner we'd ever had in the past ten years!) but certainly delicious.  The tasting menu made me feel like a celebrity judge! 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Applause for Applesauce

I put together a pot of applesauce on Sunday night....just on the stove and not in the crockpot as planned.  One good thing about the recipe I used out of "The Joy of Cooking" is that it only takes about thirty minutes to make, and a good part of that is unattended while the apples soften and cook.  It's also a wonderful thing that you don't necessarily have to peel the apples, and the apple skin gives the sauce a bit of color.  I borrowed my mother's food mill and the apples dreamily turned into sauce, leaving the peels behind.

And now to introduce my new favorite thing for breakfast....instant oatmeal topped with hot applesauce!  mmmmmmm.

Next up:  perhaps the butternut squash and apple turnovers that I've been eyeing all week in this month's Cooking Light.  Even if the only person that will eat them is me!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bad, Pumpkin-Lovin' Dog

Brian made Pumpkin-Molasses Muffins to take to a party yesterday.  It was a fantastic Autumn/Halloween party at our friend Chris and Jenny's house.  Jenny is an avid photographer, and she was taking pictures of all the kids in their Halloween costumes in her beautifully themed yard. 

Anyway, isn't it funny how most pumpkin recipes do not require the use of an entire can of pumpkin?  You always have some left over and what the heck do you use it for?  Brian did a little Google research, and, with the addition of two overripe bananas, decided to make Pumpkin Banana Bread.  I came home from a night out with the Girls on Saturday night and there was a fresh, hot loaf of Pumpkin Banana Bread in the kitchen.  And let me tell you, it was awesome!  I only regret that you can't taste or smell it's rich deliciousness through your modem, Readers.  At breakfast we all had a slice and Will loved it as well.  Brian then wrapped it up with visions of slices every day this week at breakfast.

Alas, it was not meant to be.  For when we returned from said Autumn Party, the loaf was unwrapped and SOMEONE had eaten the entire top!  At first I blamed the preschooler....but after closer inspection I knew who the blame was assigned.  Joey must've climbed up on the kitchen chair and wolfed the goodie.  I'm actually shocked that he left ANY of it, obviously he hasn't been paying attention to the lessons my parent's Labs, Ben and Jerry, have taught him.  Brian and I were so disappointed, Joey was sent to "bed" for the rest of the night. 

So, another time, I'll share the recipe.  For now I'm still bummed and only a slice of this decadence will cheer me up.  :)

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Poached Eggs

For every cook, there's something that is a challenge.  Mine is sauces.  I'm terrible at making from-scratch sauces.  I've tried to make my own cheese sauce for homemade mac n cheese but alas, it's not meant to be.  Pan sauce, gravy, spaghetti sauce, pesto.....they all meet the same fate on my stove.  Not that I won't keep trying.  I wish that I could find a class on sauce-making tips.  (Not that I'd have the time for it, anyway!)

Brian's "Mount Everest" is poached eggs.  Poached eggs are in another favorite in our house...Eggs Benedict.  That's that wonderful dish of English muffins topped with Canadian bacon, poached egg and Hollandaise sauce.  However, a poached egg can be made by itself, served with toast for sopping up all that yolk.  (mmmm)    They're absolutely delicious, but require quite a bit of set-up, delicate handling and precise timing.  If the poaching water isn't hot enough, they get to be a mess.  And if you cook them too long the yolks turn hard. 

So after reviewing a tutorial in a magazine, Brian went for the "climb" this morning.  I'll let the results speak for themselves in pictures:

Cooking in a pan of water and cider vinegar.  The one on the bottom left isn't quite going to make it!

Two poached eggs and a side of sausage
Now THAT'S what a poached egg is supposed to look like!

Now Brian's "Everest" is nothing more than a little sledding hill.  Hmm....maybe I should get working on some Hollandaise sauce and together we can make that Eggs Benedict happen!

Autumn Harvest

I'm a little behind in posting, and behind in cooking as well!

Last week we went apple picking with the boys.  It was a hot-as-hell, humid day that felt like we should be at the beach or something instead of an apple orchard.  It was a FANTASTIC place, with a playround for the kiddos, wagon rides and store and kitchen that you could purchase treats.  After spending an hour picking apples (Cortlands, Galas, Mutsus and Golden Delicious) we decided to call it a day and headed to the kitchen area.  I got caramel apples and cider donuts for us (and two bottles of water due to the heat!)  Despite the warmth, it was the perfect fall (Summer??) day. 

So far, I've only baked an apple pie, but I've got big plans for the rest of the apples.  First up-applesauce!  I'm going to be a bit smarter this year and borrowed my mother's food mill so that not only do I not have to peel the apples, the peels won't be in the finished sauce!  I also got this month's Cooking Light and there's some fantastic apple recipes in there, as well as one for peanut butter banana bread.  Not to mention two dinners featuring apples, which I've put on the menu. 

I LOVE Autumn!!!