Wednesday, September 28, 2011

"I'm not eating it. And you can't make me."

As I experiment with food and feed my family, I get some surprises sometimes.  Sometimes, something that looks only so-so ends up being something that I rave about.  And other times, something that I expect to be amazing turns out to be well, not.  Here's to looking back at some of our surprises

There is a small window of time that while babies are learning to eat solids and table foods that they will eat pretty much anything you put in front of them.  (This is how it's been in my house, anyway.)  Sean used to love bitty pasta shapes and frozen peas.  Now, he pushes away the peas and cries.  Or, more likely, squishes them.  I was a bit taken aback by the slamming-down of the window this time.  After all, Sean eats so many more things than Will ever did, mostly because we experimented with food more with the second child than the first. 

Will loves apples.  A sliced apple with dinner and he is a happy boy.  But homemade applesauce?  Forget about it. Only those "Mott's Cups" will do with this kid.  When I dropped him off at school this morning the teacher was reading a book about apple picking.  Will was excited and told everyone "My mommy just made applesauce with the apples that we picked!" It was hard for me not to add, "Yeah Buddy, and you refused to touch it!" 

Also, the child that doesn't like homemade applesauce also hates corn. But he loves popcorn, go figure.  And cornbread?  I baked some to go with chili and chili leftovers at the beginning of the week.  (mmm, there's nothing like crumbled cornbread over a bowl o' red!)  I caught him sneaking a piece twice, he's obsessed with it.  If I could find a way to sneak in veggies to the cornbread, I'd have it made!

No green veggies for either kid, unless it's canned green beans.  However, both kids like zucchini bread.  Because they don't know about the zucchini!  Mwahahahaha.  :)  Same goes for sweet potato muffins and pumpkin waffles, bread, pancakes, etc. 

What are some of the surprises in your family, or for yourself, that you have experienced?

Saturday, September 24, 2011

You Will Assimilate!!

We did our family applepicking last weekend on a gorgeous fall day.  It's been kind of a busy week, so we haven't made a whole lot of things with the apples just yet.  However, on Monday night, I had the ultimate applesauce fail.  

Mom dropped off her food mill on Monday at Brian's work.  After dinner I eagerly picked out three pounds of apples and started to chop.  With a food mill, peeling is unnecessary.  Which is good because I hate peeling and coring apples.  I cooked the apples on the stovetop as the recipe indicated.  A couple turns on the food mill and it wasn't the happy experience I remembered from the year before.  Not as bad as using a wooden spoon to PUSH the APPLES through a STRAINER.  Now that's a workout!  The apples were just....not squishing into a big beautiful bowl of applesauce.  Alas, there was to be no warm applesauce to pour into oatmeal the next day, or a snack for the boys.  The trash ate well that night.

I couldn't figure out what I did wrong.  The apples, no matter how long I cooked them, never really softened and refused to acquiesce when I put them in the food mill.  I chalked it up to getting distracted, being home alone with the boys while I tried this culinary adventure.

Today I gave it another go.  Cored and chopped the apples, cooked them on the stove as indicated.  Back into the food mill.  NO GO.  What gives, man?  What kind of Frankenstein apple doesn't soften after 30 minutes of cooking?

Guess what.  Apples will assimilate under the power of a food processor.  And if you pulse it enough, you don't even realize that there's peels in there.  It tastes pretty good too, although my little applesauce taster is currently taking a nap.  Take that, apples.  You LOSE! 

Next up in Apple Land:  apple fritters, which I've never had.  And of course, an apple pie.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Dinner of the Week: Ham And Farfalle Pasta

Last night we tried a new pasta dish.  It was from a Rachael Ray cookbook, I don't remember the title exactly, but I know that had "2-4-6-8" in the title.  The pasta was very different than the usual tomato sauce and meatball that I throw together.  This one had julienned canadian bacon, walnuts and shredded four-cheese Italian blend.  And when you took a bite, there was some spicy kick.  Can't wait to have some more for lunch today!  Hooray for something dramatically different.  :)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

Perfect Fall Breakfast

Since last week's waffles came out so well AND we went apple picking yesterday, how about two of the best fall flavors together on one plate:  Pumpkin and Apple.

Ladies and Gents, today's recipe:  Pumpkin Waffles with Maple-Apple-Walnut Compote.

Yes, every bite was as delicious as it looks.!

Plus, now there are pumpkin waffles for the freezer and some compote left, so we can have this tomorrow, too!

Up next for today:  apple pie, and Brian's going to be tinkering with a  cupcake recipe.  I love weekends.  :)

Birthday Spoils

Last week was Brian's birthday, and per tradition he made his own cake.  Don't feel bad for the birthday boy--he enjoys making his cake, it's really a gift to himself!

This year, it's a chocolate and peanut butter swirl cake from The Cake Doctor.  Complete with chocolate pan frosting.  Delicious.  And even tastier the second day, if I do say so myself.

The boys and I got him a new puzzle of the New York City skyline, and it glows in the dark.  (Hubby's other hobby, besides cooking, is puzzles.  Loves 'em.  Especially really difficult ones.)  And a cookbook called "Cooking for Geeks."  And yes, it is definitely for geeks.  I can't understand half of that cookbook, with its references to computer programming parameters and binary code.  But he loves it.  Score!!

And from my parents......a wafflemaker!  This one is more professional-grade, with the turn handle that flips it upside-down while cooking so it comes out evenly.    Is the waffle curse broken in our house?

Yes, I'd say that it is.  With some homemade strawberry-lemon syrup from the freezer, a broken curse has never tasted so delicious.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Afternoon Coffee

Four nights of crappy sleep.  Sunday-Monday-Tuesday-Wednesday.  Thursday afternoon I find myself doing something I NEVER allow myself to do.  I stop at Starbucks for a coffee so that I can make it through the rest of the day.  Yes, caffeine in the afternoon is a bit counter-productive.  But it was either that or snooze at my desk, especially with the September heat beating me down. 

When I got there, I was excited to discover that their pumpkin line is in!  My favorite time of year has arrived:  Autumn.  So a cinnamon iced coffee and a pumpkin scone and I'm ready to take on the afternoon.  And because I am attempting to still behave, it's a small coffee, and half of the scone.  Almost a year after my weight loss classes at the hospital, and I'm still surprised sometimes by the fact that a small anything is enough.  But it is.  And now I have half a pumpkin scone to look forward tomorrow.

Overnight, a cold front moves in, and it is the perfect sleeping weather.  Everyone sleeps through the night with no trouble, and it is a good day.  Hello, Autumn. 

To celebrate, we're going apple picking this weekend.  Bring on Applefest!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Local Restaurants

I was cleaning out my knitting bag this morning; organizing projects, winding yarn into cakes, putting away spare needles from previous projects and mostly, throwing out trash.  I came across a free magazine that I picked up somewhere, though I have no idea where.  It was the spring/summer edition of "Foodies of New England."

Now, I absolutely know WHY I picked it up, because I definitely consider myself a foodie!  The articles listed on the cover were certainly ones that I would find interesting:  a sushi place in Worcester that I'd like to try someday, a local farm that I have been to in the past and a feature on Bananas Foster.  All wonderful things.  But the thing that caught my eye was the list of sponsor restaurants on the back two pages.  I grabbed a pen and started checking them off, ones that Hubby and I had been to together or separately.

Of the restaurants, we have been to forty of them.  Some of them we reminisced about, remembering exactly what we had eaten.  Others weren't fond memories.  Some of them we hadn't been to in years and had forgotten existed!

Next, I circled restaurants that I would like to try someday.  (fifteen in all.)  Some of them are little hole-in-the-wall diners or pizza joints, some fancypants restaurants that would have probably been best suited B.C.  (Before Children!)  Anyway, now there's a list of places to try the next time we have Date Night or even with the kids.  Here's our list of places to try and the type of cuisine:

BABA Sushi  (sushi, duh)

The Citizen Wine Bar  (i'm not sure how to clarify this one, but it looks awesome.  I love the billboards on the highway advertising their cheese, chocolate and wine.  Sign me up!)

EVO  (again, just intrigued and not sure how to classify.  I've driven past this place a million times and am curious.)

Four Seasons  (An odd-looking place not far from the house.  It's definitely out of place in a residential neighborhood and always looks empty.  But it's been there forever.  There must be a reason why it's still around.)

Haiku  (sushi)

La Scala Restaurant (Italian)

Luciano's Cafe at Maxwell  (If this is the same Luciano's as our wedding reception, then we're in for a treat)

One Eleven Chop House (after almost ten years in this area, we have still yet to eat at this famous Worcester establishment!)

Pho Dakao (I've always wanted to try Vietnamese food.)

Plaza Azteca (Mexican or Tex-Mex, not sure.  I think this one would be kid-friendly though)

Rovezzi's Ristorante (Italian.  And from what I hear, swanky)

Takara (Japanese steakhouse)

Tortilla Sam's  (kid friendly, Tex-Mex)

The People's Kitchen

The Wexford House  (we know people who go here all the time.  It doesn't look like much from the outside, but they love it so there must be something good there!)

Reviews to come---someday!  And I hope that I find out where I got this freebie magazine, I really liked it a lot and would certainly read it again!