Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Zucchini Feast

What do you do when you have a bumper crop of zucchini?  Well for starters, you share it.  So far my daycare provider and coworkers have both benefitted from the tons of zucchini that I've managed to grow this year, as well as two of my neighbors!  After that, you start to cook with it.  A lot!  Although I love zucchini grilled or sauteed, we need some other ideas.

We had friends over for dinner the other night and I tried something I'd never done before:  fried zucchini.  It was, in a word, awesome!  I never realized how delectable fried zucchini is.  The recipe came from Joy of Cooking  and was very simple.  Flour, club soda, parsley and dill.  Dip the zucchini in the batter and fry for a few minutes.  We dotted it with a little cider vinegar and the four of us polished it off!

Chocolate zucchini bread.  This recipe yielded two delightful loaves of bread, and they smell heavenly!  Plus the boys have been fooled before....can Mama pull it off again?  Only time will tell...

Mark Bittman's Lemony Zucchini Risotto.  Fried eggs this time instead of poached, and it was every bit as good as the first time!  I seriously wanted to lick the bowl.  There's leftover risotto for lunch at work tomorrow, sans eggs.  If only it wasn't messy to bring an egg to fry!

Guess what?  Still have a ton of zucchini.  Some of it is shredded in the fridge, waiting to become Cheddar Zucchini Bread.  The rest?  Not so sure.  I'm still looking for new and exciting recipes.

Sunshine Pie


I love pie.  It doesn't matter what kind, I pretty much love it all.  But a summer "peach and cream" pie with fresh peaches?  For breakfast, even?

Yes, please.  I baked this pie on Sunday, and the house smelled heavenly while it was in the oven.  I got the recipe from allrecipes.com,, which I go to often.  I did tweak the recipe a little bit, after reading other pie maker's notes.  I cut the sugar down to half a cup instead of a whole cup (there's six peaches in there, so enough natural sweetness.  I didn't miss the excess)  and instead of baking it for an hour at 300 degrees, I did 15 minutes at 400 degrees and then 45 minutes on 350 degrees.  The top was golden and everything was perfection.

Peaches are perfection in fact, they taste like warm sunshine.  

Fall Preview

I read in the local paper yesterday that apple season in Massachusetts is running about ten days early, due to warmer weather this past Spring.  So I've already made sure to write on the calendar what day in September that we'll go apple picking.  I LOVE the family apple picking trip every year!  The boys love it too, Will's already asked when we are going.

With that said, last night's dinner was Pork Chops with an Apple Pan Sauce, accompanied by Sauteed Apples n' Onions.  I am continually amazed at how good apples and onions taste together, they complement each other nicely.  The pork was cooked perfectly, and there was white rice to sop up the pan sauce.  Recipe courtesy of Cooking Light.  Again, surprised that this was a "light" recipe!  No pictures....the food was gone in the blink of an eye.  Well, mine and Brian's anyway.  Neither kid likes sauteed apples, which I thought for sure would be a hit due to their natural sweetness.  Nope, one or two bites of pork and the rice from the big kid, and total refusal from the little kid.  UGH.  I'm over it.  

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Egg Pie

Dinner Monday Night:  Alton Brown's "Refrigerator Pie."  Or as many people call it, quiche.

I'll say it:  this is not a great dinner for a weeknight.  It takes 45 minutes to bake, and without thinking ahead there's a bit of prepwork too.  However, it's a good idea for using up leftovers.  You can add pretty much whatever flavors you want, but we do like to keep it simple in this house.  A little protein, some veggie, and usually some cheese.  Salmon works well, as does ham and chicken.  Asparagus, spinach, peppers, even broccoli works too.  Tonight's was by far the best:  maple bacon, green pepper, onion and cheese.  Brian went back for seconds, and maybe even thirds.  Instead of the usual green salad, he shredded some potato and made a "fried potato cake" and a couple of sliced strawberries for presentation.  Fantastic!  Next time a Friday or Saturday, though.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

On An Ordinary Sunday

This Sunday....Today= a perfect day, from a culinary standpoint, anyway!

Sunday started last night at 11:30pm, when Hubby and I spontaneously decided to throw together an Overnight French Toast to be baked in the morning.  Why not?  I got it in the oven this morning, sprinkled with blueberries and streusel topping, while he whipped up some of our favorite Strawberry-Lemon Syrup.  (An old Cooking Light recipe)  The result was a custard-y french toast, perfected with the syrup.  And there's leftovers for tomorrow!

Dinner for tonight is already in the crockpot.  I don't know why we don't utilize this method of cooking more often, the "set-it-forget-it" mentality can't be beat on a Sunday.  Plus again, the promise of leftovers on Monday is fantastic.  Tonight's menu is Sweet and Sour Chicken over brown rice.  The boys helped by draining pineapple chunks, washing veggies and even a little chopping.  (I did the chopping, they threw the seeds into the sink.)

And if this cooler weather prevails this afternoon, perhaps there's a little time for a batch of brownies from a mix, or perhaps cookies?  This Sunday Streak is going strong!

Saturday, August 18, 2012

A "Canadian" Love Affair

I never liked mussels until I visited Canada.

In 2006, I spent a week in Prince Edward Island with my parents, brother and (then) girlfriend and my husband.  It was a beautiful island, with lots of happy memories.  One of these memories was a dinner theater that we went to with everyone, something that Brian and I had done before but the others had not.  My Dad was a little skeptical but in the end enjoyed the show more than anyone else!

The dinner part was served family-style, at long planked tables.  I immediately noticed that the first course had these steel buckets on the tables and they certainly got my attention.  Mussels!  I wasn't fond, after a stinky cooking experience when I lived in New Hampshire six years prior.   (I had a lot of "skeptical" cooking experiences at our house in New Hampshire, this was not a good culinary time for Crafty Mama, or for that matter, Brian.  We learned from a lot of mistakes in this era!)    I was six months pregnant at the time of our Prince Edward Island adventure, and I adore fish.  Mussels and other shellfish were on the short list of fish that is considered "safe" for pregnant women to eat, so I gave them a shot.  Was I ever glad that I did!  They were steamed in a wine broth and were so good, I may have eaten almost a whole bucket by myself!

Last year I got a repeat chance to enjoy P.E.I. mussels with Hubby, dining at a little seaside joint in Saint John, New Brunswick.  We split a bucket of these delightful, albeit ugly, mollusks and I was warm and happy over the experience.

So, when Brian put mussels on the menu for tonight, I was elated!  I even said at dinner last night, "tomorrow is mussels...I'm so excited.  :)"  Brian did not disappoint, turning up mussels in a white wine, garlic, shallot and tomato broth, served atop jasmine rice and asparagus with bacon on the side.  The jasmine rice was perfect for sopping up the broth, and the dinner was absolutely to die for.   What a fond way to reminisce with a food that I fell in love with in Canada.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Brine Time

From the first time I saw Alton Brown's first Thanksgiving episode, Brian and I have wanted to brine something.  Not a turkey first try out per se, but maybe a chicken?

Instead,Brian brined corn tonight.  I didn't even know that one could brine vegetables.  But do you know what?  Brined corn is awesome.  And if you grill it, it's even better.  Char-grill marks on an ear of corn, and having that corn be super soft as you bite into it is incredible.  We just had regular butter, salt and pepper on it but there's a flavor opportunity there somewhere.  The brine liquid that Brian used was just four quarts of water, half a cup of kosher salt and a quarter cup of sugar.  The ears of corn had to soak for at least half an hour, then drained and grilled.  Perhaps next time (And there WILL be a next time!) we could add some cider vinegar to the liquid, or try a compound (read:  flavored) butter.  Some flavor ideas:  barbecue and scallion, or perhaps chipotle and lime?

I'm getting hungry all over again just imagining the possibilities.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Flashback to the Ruts

That last post?  We ate that meal over a week ago.  Lately we haven't eaten anything worth mentioning.  With Hubby finishing his master's this week and me working late and stuff, it's been all frozen chicken nuggets and a whole lot of spaghetti.  (In fact, the spaghetti is on the stove as I write this.)

Tonight was a flashback to five years ago.  Dinner was supposed to be chicken with grilled peaches and feta.  Neither one of us felt like cooking.  After running through the "Well what do YOU want" game, we settled on cooking the defrosted chicken another way, something like pan-fried.  Except HA HA, there's no defrosted chicken.  Spaghetti and frozen meatballs, to the rescue.  Tomorrow night while Hubby is at his second-to-last class, the kids and I are going to have leftover frozen pancakes and waffles.  I do so hope that they're labeled correctly in the freezer, or it's gonna be breakfast surprise!

I can't wait to feel settled again and having a better-tasting variety of meals.  Hopefully this whirlwind of activity will die down soon.

Sunday Summer Supper

Three of my favorite summer foods on one plate:  grilled sausage sandwich, corn on the cob and homemade potato salad.  :)  So, so, good.

I did top the sandwich with sauteed green pepper and onion.  They're invisible here, and no, you can't have the recipe for invisible peppers n onions.  :)