Sunday, February 26, 2012

Salmon and Sweet Potato

Maple-Chili Glazed Salmon, and Roasted Sweet Potato.

The maple and chili flavors in the salmon rub complemented each other nicely, it had just enough kick.  For the sweet potato I just used olive oil, salt and pepper since there was so much going on with the fish.  The menu originally had "baked sweet potatoes" on it but when the potatoes are THIS BIG there's just no way it's a weeknight dinner:

Actual size, a monster of a potato!!  I only cut up one and roasted it for dinner, and it was more than enough for the two of us.   The boys turned their noses at the roasted sweet potato, so I knew what to do with the other one:  I processed and pureed and made it into sweet potato mini muffins.  The boys devoured those for breakfast, and Will even made a suggestion to have "sweet potato smoothies."  Hmmm...I don't know how appetizing that sounds but I'll put on my game face for him.  After all, if he's willing to try it, I should be willing to dish it!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

S'Mores Cookies

Think S'mores are out of season?  Nope! 

I found a cookie recipe on Pinterest recently for S'mores Cookies, and after making them I daresay that they are as good as a S'more!  (though I miss the ambience of cooking them over a fire down at the cottage.) 

This was an interesting recipe, calling for both white and wheat flours, and rolled oats too.  I had to dig out the food processor from our "appliance garage" in the kitchen, which is usually a little like taking your life into your hands.  The oats are smashed up into bits in the food processor, until they resemble flour too. The dough is topped with a square of semi-sweet chocolate, then baked til golden.  After that, you top the cookies with half a marshmallow and put them under the broiler for about a minute.

The end result is a cookie so fabulous, you want to eat them all.  However, there are two lessons to be learned: 

1.  Cutting marshmallows in half is a lot easier when you use kitchen shears.

2.  If you're going to put marshmallows under the broiler, WATCH THEM.  Some of the cookie's marshmallow top looks extra-toasty, and there was a bit of sugary smoke when I took them out of the oven.  For people that like their marshmallows burned instead of toasted, the end result is perfect.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Fabulous Holiday Lunch

Today is President's Day.  We're celebrating by sorting through MORE clutter, taking the dog for a bath at Petsmart and oh yeah, I brought work home.  But there is one thing that made today special:

Sausage and Butternut Squash Risotto!

Brian's started something where he picks a different veggie every week to bring home and highlight.  This week's is Butternut Squash.  I LOVE butternut squash, pretty much any way that I can get it!  

Risotto is a slightly complicated dish, involving a lot of hands-on time while cooking.  The end result is totally worth it, though.  Total ingredient list:  Arborio rice, sweet bulk Italian sausage, chicken broth, roasted butternut squash, cinnamon, allspice, Monterey jack cheese.  Heaven in a bowl!  Even better:  there's lots of leftovers, enough for me to take some to work and some for Hubby to take to his work to feed his co-workers.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

DIY "Fishsticks"

Last night's dinner:  Breaded Cod with Basmati Rice and Asparagus.

It's pretty much the "triangle fish" that we sometimes bring home from the market for the boys.  Y'know, Gorton's Fish Sticks.  Only these tasted fresher and didn't come out of a box.  Super easy too, a little egg wash on the cod, roll in panko and then fry in a bit of oil.  Delicious.

The kids?  Not impressed.  Though Sean loved the ketchup so much, he could eat it up with a spoon!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Guest Blog by Brian - A little square of heaven

As anyone that has followed this blog should be aware I love to spend hours in the kitchen pretending that I know what I am doing, and once in a while even pull something off.  Tonight was one of those nights.  I toiled over oven, stove, toaster oven (and what a great toaster oven it is - thanks to my In-Laws), and microwave trying to turn out a restaurant style dinner instead of braving the over-crowded restaurants on this Valentine's Day.

The goal was to plate an exquisite Surf and Turf meal, NY strip steak, lobster tail, sweetened brussel sprouts with bacon, baked potatoes, and dinner rolls.  The lobster gave me some trouble but in the end I think, if I may say so myself, that I achieved a delicious meal for our at home Valentine's celebration.

Now with that said, and keeping in mind that I have had other successful meals come out of that kitchen, I must now admit that I have been outdone.  Of all the dutch babies, pies, cakes, cookies, steaks, chicken, lobster, salmon, shrimp, french toast, pancakes, waffles, and all other sorts of gastric pleasures that I have produced none have compared with the brownies that were baked by our Blue Plate Specialist.

I'm sure there will be more posted here regarding said brownies, as there should, but for now know that I have doffed my chef's hat (no I don't really wear one) to the champion of all things gooey and chocolatey.
But in defeat, oh boy did I have some unbelievable eats!

Monday, February 13, 2012

A Brownie Preview

I've never been really "into" Valentine's Day."  As a whole, I find it to be commercial and forced.  Plus, I still remember being single on Valentines Day and just wishing the day to be over.  Sure, we used to go out to dinner on Valentine's Day, or get flowers or gifts.   Restaurants on V day are for suckers....and the last time I made a reservation on Valentine's Day and STILL waited an hour for a table, well that was the end of THAT!  In short, it's become a very simple affair, cards and a little treat for the boys, and cards for Hubby and I.

But when Hubby suggested we make ourselves a really nice meal, I couldn't say no.  It's a well-known fact, neither of us can say no to good food!  He decided on the menu (filet and lobster tails) and I decided to make a chocolate dessert.  Nothing too crazy, after all, it was going to be a weeknight so there wasn't enough prep time.  I posed the question to my friends on Google Plus, and my (real life) friend Alisha came to the rescue with her Lindt Chocolate Brownies.

I had never made brownies from scratch before, and that's a damn shame.  After all, there's nothing wrong with a dessert recipe that starts with this:

Chop 'em up, and melt 'em.  Luckily, I had Alton Brown's final episode of Good Eats, entitled "Turn on the Dark" to help with all of that.  And thanks to him, I know to chop and microwave.  Smooooooooth.

Look at all that chocolatey goodness!  

Now they're baked, Hubby is still at school and the house smells like a chocolate factory.  I texted him to give him a preview and he said "We have to wait til TOMORROW??  But I'm starving."  

And I'm weak.  If he comes home and wants to cut into them, I won't be able to say no.

After all, from-scratch brownies that look like that can't be anything short of amazing, right?  :)

Overnight French Toast

After some speculation, I think I know why I've never been a big fan of French toast.  It's because I've been making it wrong.  Sure, you can make it by dipping pieces of sandwich bread into egg mixture and then cooking it on a griddle.  It comes out a bit dry.

But if you let it soak in a milk and egg mixture over night in the fridge, it's nothing but soaked creamy goodness.  And if you put blueberries, brown sugar and pecans in it too, then that's just French Toast Perfection in my book!

Happiness is:  reaching for the box of Kashi in the cabinet on Monday morning and then remembering you have Blueberry Overnight French Toast leftovers in the fridge.  Totally made my Monday Morning!!!

Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Beginning of the Mac n Cheese Quest

Today I'm working on my list of 100 Things in 1,001 Days.  Specifically, #6, "Perfect Macaroni and Cheese from Scratch."

I've said it before, sauces are not my forte.  I've only attempted homemade baked mac n cheese once.  The results were awful with a capital A, Aw-FUL!  I made it for our friends, Tracy and Michael, before we headed to a charity event together.  The failed roux, the clumpiness, it was just a mess through and through.  The sauce separated and it was in a word, disappointing.  However, Tracy is ridiculously polite, and they both ate it.  (What's wrong with you people?:)  )  I called it for what it was (total flop) and haven't tried again since.

I follow a blog called The Brown-Eyed Baker, my friend Alisha from knitting turned me on to this blog.  Every post looks SO GOOD, but I've never tried any of the recipes.  But when I saw a post this week about stovetop macaroni and cheese, I knew that I had to give it a shot.  And it came out fantastic:  very creamy and lots of good cheese flavor.  Plus, it's REAL cheese instead of orange powder, so it must be better for you.  (I can rationalize anything!)  I did make a couple of minor changes:  1.  I used up some small pasta shells instead of opening a new box of elbow macaroni, and 2.  Have you ever seen shredded American cheese at the grocery store?  I haven't.  I would've been OK shredding my own from a block of cheese, but all I could find was the "singles."  Not going to work.  And then I saw this, and brought home two of 'em:

This turned out to be a really good recipe to cut my teeth, so to speak.  I won't cross this off from my list until I make baked mac n cheese, but now I feel like I have a bit more confidence.

Sunday Morning Breakfast

Waffles fresh off the iron, bacon and a warm pineapple compote.  

The pineapple compote was completely improvised...I had bought a can of pineapple chunks yesterday because Sean loves them for a snack.  Brian opened the can this morning and put them in a pan on the stove, adding brown sugar and apple cider vinegar.  The end result was so delicious, there were three pieces of bacon left at the end of the meal.  There's NEVER leftover bacon.  

With breakfasts like these, I never feel like going out to a restaurant for breakfast on the weekend.  No's just as good if not better in our own kitchen!

Saturday, February 4, 2012


Tonight's Dinner:  Panko-Crusted Chicken Strips with Homemade Honey-Mustard-Tarragon Dipping Sauce.  Accompanied by Rice Pilaf and Yes, more Broccolini!

I adore panko.  I haven't had it much, and so far just on chicken and once, Brian made a side dish with broccoli and panko.  It has such a satisfying crunch and is just a bit different from regular old breadcrumbs.  Not that I have anything against breadcrumbs per se, it's just good to change it up once in a while.  I liked the broccolini so much last night I decided that we should have it again.  This time with lemon and garlic. Mmmmmm.  :) 

I did the grocery shopping today, I hadn't done it in months.  When I was first co-habitating with Hubby, I LOVED to do the shopping.  I enjoyed picking out meals, trying out recipes, getting the ingredients, etc etc.  Now I absolutely loathe the grocery store.  Especially on Saturdays.  It's always super crowded and I just want to get the hell out as fast as possible!  So I just have to say again, Brian rocks because he doesn't mind doing it most of the time.

Tomorrow is the Super Bowl, Pats vs Giants.  So we are heading to my parent's house for the big game, and spending time with them, as well as my brother, sis-in-law and niece.  There is sure to be good food there, I believe we're doing a sandwich buffet and THEN a make-your-own-sundae bar!  :)  And tomorrow afternoon, I'm working on one of the food items on my "100 Things list" so stay tuned.

Friday-Night Scallops

One of my favorite dishes:  scallops!  So versatile....last night's were pan-sauteed, and tossed with linguine and a little alfredo sauce.  The veggie of the night was broccolini, something I had never tried before.  It was great, with a little shredded parmesan romano, but I think next time I'd like a little lemon juice.  And there certainly will be a next time.

The boys?  Not big fans of scallops.  But that won't keep us from getting them to try other kids of fish.  And someday, I hope we're successful in finding something that they'll like eating.