Sunday, December 29, 2013
First up: the soup. The first instruction is to cook a pound of diced bacon. OH YEAH!!! The chopping was almost theraputic today, onions, celery and garlic and then, potato all having a turn on the cutting board. Brian got a new peeler set for Christmas, and I didn't realize until today just how DULL our old one is! It took forever to cook the potatoes because I didn't cut them up small enough, making our lunch a very quick one at that because we had movie plans. It was delicious though, and there's enough for leftovers AND the freezer. Hooray!
The casserole was good, but a bit of a pain to make. The only reason it was a pain was our lack of planning, though. Brian browned red onion in the oven while I defrosted chicken and frozen spinach. And I'm making a decision: no more frozen spinach in casseroles. Or maybe at all: why would you put yourself through squeezing all the moisture out of it with paper towels if you don't have to? Peeling chopped spinach out of a paper towel is tedious, next time I'll just wilt some fresh spinach in a skillet and add it later. The cheesy part of this casserole that I liked best was adding 8 oz of chive and onion cream cheese to the pasta, chicken and spinach. It melted beautifully and combined with a can of diced Italian-style tomatoes to make a thick "sauce." And the mozzarella cheese melted on the top was pretty fantastic, too.
Monday, December 23, 2013
Sunday, December 22, 2013
We have houseguests this weekend, my friend Maureen and her boyfriend, Sky. Maureen LOVES our chocolate Rollo cookies so I am saving them for when she is here. Maybe we'll even bake them together.
I think the 2013 baking is complete. Minus the decorating that I will do with the boys tonight.
One thing I need to remember for next year: keep some healthy snacks around for noshing while baking cookies instead of nibbling on the product. Yeah.....that'll be a good thing next year.
Friday, December 20, 2013
This year I'm going back on something that I've said before, and I've embraced box mix. I was searching for cream of tartar in the grocery store, when I passed the prepackaged bags of Betty Crocker snickerdoodle mix. It got me to thinking....the only thing that I use cream of tartar for is to make snickerdoodles, and though I love them, I really only make them at Christmas. So I brought home two of them and didn't look back. And today? A tube of ready-made gingerbread cookie dough came home with me from the grocery store. It doesn't make them any less homemade, and the snickerdoodles tasted good. Plus they took a lot less time. I'm happy about it, I wish I could've convinced my purist Cookie Self years ago that this is OK!
Sunday, December 15, 2013
Old-Fashioned Sugar Cookies
I've used Alton Brown's recipe for these cookies for years, it's truly the best based on both taste and technique. This is a really good episode of "Good Eats and worth catching.
I made up the dough yesterday and put it in the fridge for the obligatory "2-4 hour chill." And to be honest....I forgot about them. Until I was walking around Target this afternoon, trying to finish up the last of the Christmas shopping. No matter, the cookie dough just needed to be worked a little before getting rolled out and cut with holiday cookie cutters.
Decorating never happens same-day, as these need to cool. Next up.....snickerdoodles or coconut macaroons.....but not today! My mood will decide which one we'll be making.
I poked around on Pinterest and was not disappointed with how many recipes came up for blueberry coffeecake. Most of them required sour cream or greek yogurt. Although I like these kinds of coffeecakes better, I only had a smidge of sour cream in the house and the greek yogurt that I had on hand was black cherry. I discovered a recipe using vegetable oil instead, which we also have a hearty amount of in our kitchen.
I was really glad that I read the recipe through, because it listed sugar as an ingredient, but didn't incorporate it in the instructions! Luckily this isn't my first rodeo though....I knew that sugar is a WET ingredient and added it to the milk, oil and eggs. I also tinkered with it a little....instead of 1.5 cups of blueberries, I added a cup of blueberries and a cup of sweetened, dried coconut. Hubby ADORES coconut.
The end result was satisfying and used up some blueberries. All in all, a win.
Sunday, December 1, 2013
But I didn't want to wait to write about the night before's Dinner!!
I came home from work and decided to start dinner. I had every intention to make what we'd written on the menu, some sort of glazed chicken and quinoa. But then I saw the plethora of vegetable oil in the lazy susan (Hubby sometimes forgets we already have some and brings home more from the grocery store) and I wanted fried chicken. So guess what......we had fried chicken!
One problem....no bread crumbs. It wasn't a problem for long:
That, my friend, is crushed Ritz crackers. And in my opinion, is one of the BEST chicken coatings ever!!!! Ev en the leftovers were fantastic. I would certainly do this again.
Thursday, November 21, 2013
OK. I love pork. I love lemon. Pork and lemon go well together. However, this was very.....lemon-y. Almost pucker-y which I'm not crazy about. The recipe called for quite a bit of lemon juice, I don't remember exact measurements because I wasn't the one cooking. It also said to slice a lemon, for passing around at the table. Let me tell you....there was no "passing lemon at the table" because not only would it be redundant, it would've possibly made the meal inedible. While there is no such thing as too much garlic, there is such a thing as too much lemon!
Kids had the same meal, minus the lemon-parsley sauce. Unfortunately, the only thing that went over well was the pasta. Scratch that....Will loves pasta and Sean is going through a phase (a really LONG phase) where he cries before even trying anything in front of him. We went through this with Will though, so I know that there's a light at end of that tunnel. Will is game to try anything nowadays, and has even gotten to be polite about saying that he doesn't like something. And the rule in our house is that if someone tries something and doesn't like it, there are alternates. Let's just say....the kids eat a lot of peanut butter and jelly, or Cheerios and milk. But we keep trying!!
Sunday, November 17, 2013
Tuesday, November 5, 2013
As I grow older, things change. For example, I may not like chickpeas whole, but if it's garlic or red pepper hummus, I dip chips and veggies like there's no tomorrow. It turns out that I don't care for dried cilantro, but fresh is delicious in a homemade salsa. And I even appreciate a cold beer on occasion.
I can stand the occasional black olive in a salad or on a pizza. Not much else though, I adore Greek salads on Wednesday nights at knit night at the local Panera but I always pick out the olives. (Because I never, ever remember that I can order the salad without them!) Last month however, Brian made a chicken dish from "50 Shades of Chicken that featured garlic and kalamata olives. I thought I'd hate it, but I didn't. Turns out I like the FLAVOR of olives, but not whole and the having to pit them. And if they're canned.....blech. As a side note, the "50 Shades of Chicken" is a parody cookbook of the E.L. James "50 Shades of Grey" book series. I don't believe that it was well-received, as Brian found it on the bargain bookshelf at Barnes and Noble when it first came out. Which is a travesty....every recipe in there is a hit so far!
Even Brian has to admit that his tastes have changed. The man that insists that he hates Mexican food suggested making enchiladas this past weekend. Enchiladas! I love Mexican food, so this sounded great to me! A friend of ours used to make them but they were vegetarian, using refried beans as the protein source. No wonder Brian didn't like them....but I thought they were OK. Anyway....his enchiladas came out fantastically on Sunday night! He took a recipe from ATK's "Simple Dishes" cookbook that called for ground turkey and subbed ground beef and mushrooms. Not only were they delectable, they made scads of leftovers for this week. It also turns out that, like lasagna, the leftovers taste even better!
Monday, October 21, 2013
A few weeks ago, Brian made some chicken and butternut squash in where the recipe called for apple butter. He bought a huge jar of apple butter, which served as a glaze to the meat and squash. It was good, but not good enough. I expected more flavor, but it was flat. I didn't write about it for that very reason, it was disappointing because it's got a bunch of my favorite stuff in it, and I adore autumn flavors. (Apples, pumpkin, squash, cinnamon....you get the gist.)
My mom came to visit this weekend since we were going to Rhinebeck for the NY Wool and Sheep Festival. She was telling me about the apple butter that she had made, and was going to ask my Dad to bring a jar of it when he came the next day to celebrate my son and my SIL's birthdays on Sunday. As soon as I opened the jar on Sunday, I instantly knew what the difference was.
I grabbed the jar from our fridge and presented it to Brian. "Smell this." He obliged and I asked him what it smelled like. He said "It smells like nothing." Exactly! Next he smelled the homemade apple butter. All the difference in the world!
I grabbed a couple of butter crackers for a taste test. And another test. And another test. I finally sealed the jar and put it back in the fridge, because the homemade stuff that my mom made was so good, I was sure that I could eat all of it on crackers!
So....homemade is the way to go. It's labor intensive, Mom said that it spent several hours in a crockpot, and was in the oven for quite a while too. But so worth it. I think that we should try the chicken and squash recipe again!
Going home for lunch on Monday, just for the sheer reason of using a toaster oven to warm up the pizza instead of getting it all rubber-y in the microwave. Seriously delicious. Bacon, peppers, onion, mushroom and garlic is a good combo.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
Brian chose a Rachael Ray recipe online, for "Sexy Surf and Turf." How can you not like a recipe with a name like that? It called for sweet vermouth, so I stopped at the liquor store to buy some. Not being much of a drinker, I didn't know that there was a difference between "sweet" and "dry" vermouth so I'm glad that the recipe was specific. The steak had a rich sauce with shallots and vermouth, aptly called "Manhattan Sauce." Let me tell you, it was to DIE FOR. The three perfectly-cooked sea scallops on top were excellent as well. I had also purchased a bottle of prosecco, which neither of us had ever tried. It was very nice, sweeter than the usual champagne. I guess I DO like champagne, when it's cold and fresh. The little sip that you get at a wedding toast is usually flat and warm.
So that was the "sexy" part of the evening. The rest of the anniversary was decidedly un-sexy. Pre-dinner, the sauce smoked a bit and set off the smoke detector. In this house, if one goes off they all go off, and that really startled the kids. Every window and door had to be opened, and a fan put on "exhaust" in the living room window. Sean cried while Will hung out on the front stoop to get away from the noise. Did I also mention the rain and potential thunderstorms? After that was over, we sat down for a nice dinner. The kids enjoyed their plain steak and rice. No sooner were we all on our last bite, the power went out. Apparently, it doesn't take much for that to happen around here! With no TV, I read the boys stories from Will's school bag, and we all snuggled up on the couch and loveseat in the living room, by candlelight. We got the boys situated in sleeping bags on their bedroom floor. Many thanks to Papa, for getting them light sabers at a yard sale. They make for great "glow sticks" in a power outage!
Sunday, October 6, 2013
Monday, September 30, 2013
These are all things that we made this weekend. I lost count of the dishwasher runs after three times.
Not pictured: an awesome roast chicken with rice, fresh green beans and butternut squash! Also, applesauce! I was a good neighbor and brought some to the guy next door when I went to pick up my older son from playing with his son. I love this stuff, especially a dollop over my morning oatmeal.
In the wings--apple crisp. And perhaps some banana bread. And Hubby and I are already talking about clam chowder next weekend! The butternut squash soup at Panera has me thinking about soup. So happy that Autumn is finally here!
Thursday, September 26, 2013
These Candy Corn Oreos jumped out at me at Target last night. I adore candy corn and I adore Oreos, so I thought, Why not? I loved the Birthday Oreos that came out to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the oreo cookie. Why not a different "Limited Edition" flavor?
Two or three cookies in (because you have to make sure, right?) and I can tell you why not: they're gross. Not only are the colors garish, they are also over-sweet. And if that doesn't convince you, the aftertaste of these suckers will.
Every once in a while, something comes along and messes with my purist "stick to the original" attitude. We don't need fifteen flavors of Doritos, 9 flavors of Lays Potato chips (Chicken and Waffle? Really?) or White Chocolate peppermint Pringles. And today, we don't need Candy Corn oreos. Eat Candy Corn. Or Oreos. Emerge happier that you did.
Wednesday, September 25, 2013
Friday, September 20, 2013
Monday night: grilled chicken with lemon and garlic, rice and frozen peas. Chicken recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.
This was a whole chicken that he cut up and grilled. On a weeknight. :) The intensity of the marinade was incredibly flavorful. I couldn't wait for the leftovers the next day! And yes...frozen peas. My mother will be happy to hear that she was right...frozen does taste way better than canned. Not to my child self, but as an adult frozen are the way to go.
Tuesday: rib eye steaks with grilled garlic. Accompanied by baked potatoes and grilled Caesar Salad. Steak recipe courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.
First of all, there's no such thing as too much garlic. That's the way it is in our house, anyway! Roasted (or in this case grilled) garlic, smushed on a piece of bread is delightful. The same garlic smushed on steak is to DIE FOR. And the steak was cooked perfectly, medium to medium-well. Just how I like it best. :)
The first time I ever had a "grilled" Caesar salad I wasn't sure I'd like it. But the smokiness of the grill, combined with the saltiness of the shaved parmesan and the tang of the caesar dressing....it's something special, I tell ya!
The last meal in the theme of the week: Lemon Tilapia packets with corn and zucchini. Recipe courtesy of Hubby's Mom, who emailed it to him. Served over quinoa, which we almost forgot to make.
Couple of things:
-Fish store didn't have tilapia, so we substituted cod. By the by, I loved having a small local fish store in our old neighborhood, and now we have one near here, too!
-Recipe called for corn on the cob cut into rings with the kernels intact. There really wasn't any fresh corn in the stores, so Brian substituted the chinese-style canned mini corn ears that you see in stir-frys. I don't think it translated well. If we were to make this again, it would be when corn on the cob is available.
-Fish can overcook quickly. It was still edible, but it could've been better. This was a tough dinner because of the distractions.
-I have to say....quinoa isn't something I pictured myself eating. But the more I have of it, the more I like it!
So there you have it: Lemon and Garlic week is over. Pretty soon it'll be time for fall suppers and crockpot stuff!
Sunday, September 8, 2013
Plus....lots of leftovers for a busy Monday at work! Win, Win!
Monday, September 2, 2013
It finally happened. A bad recipe in the Epicurious cookbook.
I put it on the menu last week because it looked like a relatively easy stir fry. It wasn't. I should've been more skeptical when Brian couldn't find lemongrass at the grocery store. I found it at an Asian market downtown, for the astronomical price of $1.37.
The fish sauce, or the amount of fish sauce in the recipe should've tipped me off too, but sadly it didn't. Fish sauce smells bad, but is tolerable in small amounts. A lot of asian -inspired cooking calls for a teaspoon added to other ingredients. This recipe called for FIVE tablespoons! As soon as Brian added it to the pan it stunk up the kitchen. The whole house reeked of dirty feet and regret!!
At this point, we considered calling it inedible and doing something else. Neither of us can stand wasted food though, so we plugged on. Once the lemongrass and garlic were added it became more bearable. The end result though, was sad. A nibble of chicken and some of the rice and we pronounced it bad.
Then the garbage disposal even rejected it...and caused a horrific clog. Poor Brian got to clear our pipes of chicken, Thai chilies and that revolting fish smell. He required a shower after, it was that bad.
In my notes, I wrote what I reserve for truly terrible food...."never, ever make this again."
Friday, August 30, 2013
Sunday, August 11, 2013
Three places worth mentioning:
Friday night we went to Ronnie's in Auburn, MA. I'd been before and this place is worth raving about. It is the BEST fried seafood around. It doesn't taste greasy but honestly, like they change the oil in the fryer in between customers. Clean, delicious and exactly how it should taste. Brian and I had fried clams, she had clam fritters, and Kid 1 and Kid 2 had a burger and fish strips, respectively. Sean normally likes fish sticks at home, but he proclaimed these "too fishy." Ah well. After we finished our meals we went to the back of Ronnie's where they have the ice cream. The ice cream is certainly worth raving about! I had just enough room for a twisted soft serve cone, and I decided to share with Sean. That boy....if you get him his own kiddie cone he'll refuse to eat it. Offer to share your small cone and the child will devour it as if it's the last cone on Earth! The funny part of the evening was when Will asked us if he had ice cream on his face. Um.....not your whole face per se, buddy. But pretty close!
Saturday evening we found this place in Oxford called "Oxford Casual Dining." What a find!! It had lots of Italian specialties, plus a decent kids menu. An added bonus is that no one seemed to care around us when the kids weren't perfect angels. I got my ultimate favorite, chicken marsala. They did not disappoint! And there's leftovers for lunch tomorrow so that's great. :) And dessert....authentic key lime pie. Not the kind that makes your mouth pucker as soon as you taste it, just smooth and citrus-y. We will definitely go back to this place.
On Sunday, we went to Uncle Jay's Twisted Fork for breakfast, in Cherry Valley. This place was rated a "Hidden Gem" by the Phantom Gourmet. And they totally deserve it!!! Will's already asking if we can go again next weekend. What a treat. This place is certainly NOT a "greasy spoon." Everything is made to order, and to die for.
Monday, July 29, 2013
As a kid, I can remember my mother bringing out a bottle of Minute Maid lemon juice at dinner time, to put on broccoli with a little butter. I'd read the back of it, and there would always be a recipe for lemonade. Always intrigued me, but I never did it.
Brian and I love fresh lemonade, but the closest thing we come to is Newman's Own. And let's face it, Newman's Own extra virgin lemonade is pretty awesome stuff. Still, I thought that someday, someday I'd like to make my own.
Well, tonight was the night. I had purchased 12 lemons at the grocery store last week for that purpose last week, and I just wasn't going to let $6.00 worth of lemons go bad!
Tuesday, July 23, 2013
No recipes...just flying by the seat of our pants. A package of ground pork, a package of ground beef. And I got really daring and didn't measure ingredients. Sometimes it's best that way. Some bread crumbs, parmesan cheese, two eggs, oregano, rosemary, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Brian rolled them and fried them in vegetable oil while I worked on feeding kids and doing dishes. (We make a good team that way.) He used his induction cooker to better control the temperature, which seems like it was a good idea. Next time Brian wants to make them like his mom made them growing up: added to sauce and simmering in a crockpot for several hours. I've had Mom G's meatballs, they are pretty good!
All in all, I'd say the process only took about an hour, give or take. I wish I had taken a photo of the meatball assembly line, but alas, I did not so you will have to imagine it. Now there are several bags of (hopefully) good-quality meatballs in my freezer, and one bag to go with cheese tortellini and leftover marinara tonight. Looking forward to it!
So only Brian and I partook in the pork chops and pears. And as great as they were, it was only until we were finished eating that I realized that the blue cheese was still in the fridge. Yep, the very same blue cheese that took me forever to find at the market the other day. Ah well, looks like blue cheese is on the menu somewhere next week. Great, because I love the stuff!
Sunday, July 21, 2013
We found ourselves with a plethora of fresh cilantro after a party on Friday....so tex-mex on Sunday! Had a great recipe for pork tacos with fresh mango salsa out of an America's Test Kitchen cookbook. It used ground pork instead of tenderloin, and canned Chipotle in adobo sauce. Rounded out with rice and beans, fresh guacamole ( that I "wing" instead of using a recipe now) and you've gor a great meal. And plenty of leftovers, whixh is always my favorite.
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
The chicken was "Peruvian Grilled Chicken" from Epicurious, and man, so flavorful! Brian quartered a whole chicken, and I made up the marinade. It consisted of soy sauce, lime juice, paprika, cumin, oregano, and garlic. Lots of garlic. Absolutely fantastic, and a different flavor combination than what we're used to.
Brian had gotten unsweetened flaked coconut at the grocery store to make a banana bread recipe that he found on Pinterest. I was running low on sugar though, and it also requires rum. (Sounds pretty good, huh?) No rum in the house, so instead I made the blueberry-coconut muffins on the back of the bag. Brian adores anything coconut, so it works out well. Plus, it's nice to have some muffins for mid-morning coffee at work.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
Friday, July 12, 2013
What stemmed it was Spaghetti and Meatballs for dinner one night. The meatballs were frozen, from the grocery store. I've bought them many times, different brands from time to time and we've been eating them for a few years. Well, whatever brand these are, they stink. They don't taste good and I think that they must have a higher fat content than whatever I was buying before (since we've moved I've shopped at different stores, so I have no idea) and I don't feel so good after eating them. But do I stop eating them? No.
After that meal I started to remember how my mother used to make meatballs. She'd take an afternoon and make enough to freeze. Then we'd open a ziploc bag of meatballs on spaghetti night and that would be dinner. When I started cooking for myself and later, my husband, I did it the same way. And I stopped for the same reasons that she did, it's time consuming. It's so much easier to buy a bag of frozen meatballs and be done with it.
Well, today one of my residents brought down a plate of four meatballs, sauce, cheese and fresh italian bread. I had planned on going out to grab a bite to eat, but was grateful for the plate of food. (This is one of the nicest things about working in elderly housing, by the way.) I brought the plate into the community room with a book, and proceeded to eat. and WHOA! These meatballs are incredible. They're obviously homemade, and so was the sauce. And the bread is so fresh, it must've been bought today.
So that settles it for me. No more frozen meatballs for this family, at least not as a staple. Some things are worth making, and meatballs are going on that list. I'm looking forward to getting some good quality hamburger and cranking out some meatballs for my very own freezer. Sauce is another story.....someday I'd like to make my own but for now I'm good with jarred Newman's Own. :)
Monday, July 1, 2013
Tonight's pork recipe is courtesy of the Food Network. It was a delightful, tangy glaze of balsamic vinegar (which I almost forgot to add) honey, four cloves of garlic, olive oil, rosemary and a little dijon mustard. Served with couscous and salad, but the boys had theirs with bread and applesauce. Will wolfed his serving down, and Sean even tasted it before he politely told us that he didn't like it. Who are these kids? No tears, and eating everything?? :)
I also like recipes that start by browning on the stove and finishing in the oven. The browning, and then the finish by roasting, makes for a nice, moist meat. I'd definitely make this again.
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
The new house has a very nice kitchen, and cooking in the summer is a lot sweeter when you're "slaving at a hot stove" in central air conditioning!!! Our first home-cooked meal? Steak on the grill, with potato packets and canned green beans. Gotta start somewhere. :)
In the mornings Hubby is doing the kids' dropoff so I actually have time for REAL breakfast. So here's today's meal:
It feels SO GOOD to be back in business!
Sunday, June 2, 2013
It was incredible! Though I do need to start reading recipes better and not discover that something that I want to make in the next half hour or so needs at least two hours of marinating.
Hawaiian chicken breasts, jasmine rice with saffron and peas, roasted asparagus and grilled fresh pineapple. Mmmmm.....real food hasn't tasted this good in a while!
Sunday, May 19, 2013
Later on, we had linguine with shrimp and scallops, with blistered grape tomatoes. Another fantastic pasta, featuring two of my favorite things!
This is probably the last post from the kitchen at this house, packing up has already commenced. And there's talk of stopping at BJ's today to get a huge bag of paper plates to cut down on how few dishes we need to do in the next couple of weeks. See you soon from our new kitchen!!
Thursday, May 9, 2013
Will is a picky eater. I'm sure that if you've read this blog, you are not surprised. Unless it's a dessert, it's difficult to get this kid to try new things. So whenever he's going to spend a full day at this place, we review the menu together and see if he's going to eat that day's entree or take a soy-nut butter and jelly sandwich. (Ewww...I know. But no peanut butter allowed. I got him to eat this simply by not telling him that it wasn't peanut butter. By the time he realized he had been eating it for almost a whole summer and just let it go)
One day's meal was American Chop Suey. He insisted on a sandwich, and the in-house lunch packer (aka Daddy) made his lunch. That night when he came home, he said "Mom, the lunch today was American Chop Suey. I tried some. And I liked it!" He then asked if we could have it for dinner some night. So we did, a week later....and he ate a whole plate!
Later on that same weekend, we were in Ikea, looking at furniture. On the way out, we stopped for a snack. I got a frozen yogurt cone. It was vanilla, which....eh. Now, Will usually despises ice cream because it's "too cold." He shocked me by asking if he could try my cone. And then proceeded to devour most of it!
I'm thrilled, because I love chop suey and that's one more thing we can cook that everyone will eat. That makes me the happiest of all. :)
Simply chicken breasts with a variety of spices, including (of course) paprika. We're enjoying paprika lately....especially smoked paprika. The chicken was done in the oven using a cast iron skillet, and last minute he decided to put the almost-steamed brussels sprouts in there too. Delicious.
Monday, April 29, 2013
Was I ever glad that I acquiesced...this place was fantastic!! They have a simple concept: everything they feature on their menu is cooked in one of their (you guessed it) two ovens. No fryolaters or heat lamps here! We shared a roasted sweet potato appetizer, which was delicious. Brian had their pulled pork sandwich and I ordered the second-strangest pizza that I have ever had....topped with ricotta, fennel and butternut squash. Say what?? It was incredible!
This restaurant is now officially one of the reasons that I'm sad to leave town. Luckily though, we're not going so far that we can't come back!
Thursday, April 25, 2013
Sunday, April 14, 2013
A couple of weeks ago, though, I made panko-crusted cod with a tomato and basil relish. I couldn't take the bland choices we had been making...we needed to shake it up and create EXCITEMENT! Ok, not quite. I just wanted something a little more interesting than meat, starch, vegetable. And honestly, I've seen enough pizza lately to want a break from that as well.
Straight outta last month's issue of Cooking Light, this looked easy and delicious. Breading the fish with the panko, frying lightly and finishing it in the stove: genius. The fish isn't super-oily like fried fish can be sometimes, and there's still plenty of moisture. The crunch was very satisfying, and the relish was cool and refreshing. (Though the onion flavor was a little heavy-handed.)
One sidenote about the couscous: normally I'm not a fan. This was a box mix, and it was a generic brand. Really, really good! I'd definitely buy it again.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
It's going well, though. I've packed up a lot of things for storage, and we've painted, cleaned, fixed, installed, and lots of other action words and items. Pretty soon though, I'll be packing up the cookbooks. That's ok though, there's still the Internet. :)
I haven't had time to write individual meal posts, so how about a summary.
One night last week we had Pork Lettuce Wraps, courtesy of this month's "Cooking Light." Usually I make these with chicken, so this was a nice change. The ground pork is mixed with garlic and ginger and sauteed, and the vegetables (peppers, cucumber, etc...I didn't have any carrot so I put some onion in there instead) were supposed to be raw. I don't really like raw veggies on a wrap, so I opted to sautee lightly. It called for a serrano pepper, but only half of a serrano pepper. Right, anyway....I chopped up a whole one because they're small and I am just NOT going to put half a serrano pepper away in the crisper to rot slowly. I ignored my desire to put sriracha sauce in the mix and I'm glad I did because OH BABY! Those were spicier than expected. Delicious though. Brian wasn't crazy about them because of the intense flavors. (Fresh garlic, ginger paste, serrano) I served the leftovers over rice the next day and was thrilled with them.
We were replacing the carpet in the family room over to Pergo laminate flooring on St. Patrick's Day weekend. I had anticipated that this would take both Saturday and Sunday, so there really wasn't a point to making a corned beef and cabbage dinner. Which is really too bad, because I love corned beef and cabbage! So I planned an Irish Beef Stew instead. And thanks to the awesome skills of hubby, my brother and my dad, the floor was done in a day! I am SO THANKFUL that we have family members that not only have the skills to do this kind of work, that they don't mind helping! The stew was really good, with some Irish soda bread on the side. (not made by either of us, but bought at Price Chopper.)
Lastly, and I feel this really deserves its own blog entry....steak over arugula with a parmesan butter. This recipe was out of Epicurious (goodness what a great cookbook!) and it only called for 12 oz of ribeye steak. I was skeptical, I really was. But sliced up, and served with a balsamic brown sugar and shallot glaze and the aforementioned pamesan butter? This was good enough to be restaurant food. And I wasn't at all unhappy with the amount of steak. So, so very good. And a very easy recipe to boot, the only difficult part was making sure you didn't overcook the steak.
That's it for now, folks!
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Surprise afternoon off! I felt a little bit like a kid headed on vacation, myself. And a little quality time, just him and I. I got to the house early and tried to think of something fun that we could do together. He loves to cook, so I settled on brownies. The only chocolate in the house was a bag of chocolate chips.....with a brownie recipe on the back!
Preheated the oven...then headed outside to meet the bus. His expectant little face...watching for his mom...is the first thing I see as the bus pulls up. He was quite nervous with this change in his routine, but was thrilled to have Mom all to himself for a couple of hours. He readily agreed to brownie-making, as long as he could eat some that day and watch "Ultimate Spider-Man" afterwards. Agreed, buddy.
This was a strange recipe, like no other brownies I'd ever made. It called for melting half the chocolate with butter on the stove, and then adding everything else directly to the pan on the stove. But I can't complain with how they came out, and the smile on the Big Kid's face!
Monday, March 4, 2013
On one of those "nothing good on TV nights" Brian found "America's Test Kitchen" on PBS. (I know! PBS has good kids' stuff and the occasional concert or documentary, but other stuff too!) This is a show where they put recipes to the test, making them many times to decide the "best" way. They also have segments on testing out kitchen gadgets too. And it's produced and filmed in Boston, so there's the local flair of it too. Brian's put a bunch of them on our DVR and we've found some delicious things.
The first one? Shepherd's Pie. I've been making it for years, using the recipe in the cookbook from the campground that Brian's family has been going to since he was a kid. It's good....but nothing dynamite. Ground beef sauteed with onion, add a can of drained corn, some flour to thicken it up, then put in an oven-safe pan and cover with mashed potatoes. To make it more flavorful we added a layer of shredded cheddar between the potatoes and meat, and like it with steak sauce dolloped on top of the individual servings.
Yep.....ATK found a way to improve all of that. Last night's shepherd's pie omitted the corn and added mushrooms, peas and carrots. They used baking soda as a tenderizer for the meat, and the potatoes got "chived." The whole thing was cooked in a cast iron skillet (ease from stovetop to oven) so it was truly a one-pan recipe. And the scalloped top of the casserole with the potatoes perfectly browned? I bow down to you, America's Test Kitchen. This was a delightful Sunday dinner.
The only problem is, theirs takes like two hours to prepare. So obviously, this is NOT a weeknight dinner for sure. But it makes a ton of leftovers, so I know what's for lunch almost every day this week. No steak sauce required. :)
Saturday, March 2, 2013
I know that we are going to have a lot of meals in the next couple of months that have "quick" and "convenient" ingredients. Neither one of us likes it, though. , This week Brian wrote a menu that put that stuff to shame. Lemony Zucchini Risotto on Thursday night, served with a poached egg on top. We've made that one a few times now, and I still love it just as much, and ALWAYS have the leftovers for breakfast the next day!! I am kind of in love with risotto, and will definitely be happy to try some more versions.
The most intriguing meal? Roasted chicken and kimchi-smashed potatoes.
This one comes courtesy of Epicurious....which has never produced a bad meal in our kitchen. This one didn't disappoint, either. Kimchi is not something I thought that I'd want to try, nor did I think that my husband would MAKE kimchi. For those who don't know, kimchi is a fermented cabbage dish from Korea. Authentic kimchi is mixed up in glass jars and left to ferment for some time. I had a boyfriend in high school whose mother was Korean, and she used to make it and leave the jars on their back deck.
Anyway, the recipe called for store-bought jarred kimchi. Our local market didn't have it, and I was shocked (shocked!) not to find it at Wegman's. So we found some cabbage/slaw mix in the produce aisle and decided to give it a whirl. The spices are more authentic, but the cabbage blend was more "pickled" than fermented. Looked pretty authentic!
First of all, I have to admit. Kimchi does not look appetizing. But this meal was actually pretty great. The chicken thighs were spicy and quite crispy, with the perfect blend of sririacha and fresh garlic. The kimchi was good, and the dandelion greens were bitter but worked in the dish. I don't know if this is something I'd eat again, but I was pleasantly surprised!
Monday, February 18, 2013
I had a few of my knitting group friends over for dinner the other night. Brian offered to cook us dinner instead of ordering out, and I gladly took him up on it. He asked a friend at work, "What do you cook four women?" His friend replied "I'm sure they'll appreciate whatever you make, because they didn't have to cook it!"
Roasted cranberry chicken, lemon and thyme quinoa, sauteed green beans. Damn! Brian even did the "Iron Chef" description of what he did as we started to eat, but I'm not sure anyone but me heard him. We were already busily scarfing down the deliciousness. Lots of leftovers too. Oh, and I haven't been a big believer in quinoa in the past, but this recipe from America's Test Kitchen has made me a raving fan. Into the notebook it goes!
The next day, we roasted a turkey. One of my tenants asked if I'd like to have a frozen turkey that she wasn't going to use so of course I said yes. We had my brother and SIL over, and it was a fun night. lots of leftovers from that too, despite sending them home with some.
And then last night, my next door neighbor brought over a baked ziti casserole as a thank you for helping clear her driveway last week during Snowpocalpyse '13. Had that for dinner the past two nights, and there's STILL three helpings left for lunch(es). Talk about a very good weekend!
Tuesday, February 12, 2013
Meet last Friday's dinner. Rib-eye steak, caramelized onions over crusty rosemary bread. (The recipe called for sourdough...we couldn't find it at two grocery stores.) Served with frozen sweet potato fries. Awesome!!
Note: We ate this sometime in January, I believe. No idea why it is posting NOW, but let's just roll with it! :)
Brian's clearing the driveway a bit more after this past weekend's blizzard, so I decide that I am going to cook a fast, simple dinner. Defrosted pork chops in the fridge, waiting to be dropped into a hot skillet. To make it friendly to all household members and FAST, I add a box of Kraft Mac n Cheese and a can of green beans. I just don't want the complaints tonight and when we all eat the same dinner, everyone wins.
Then my wheels start turning and I decide to improvise a sauce for the pork. This is what I came up with, and it was delicious! Note: this isn't quite a recipe, as I don't have exact measurements of every ingredient, nor how long I cooked this. It's very much make-it-up-as-you-go-along, or MIUAYGA :)
1 cup yellow mustard
1/2 cup honey
2 cloves fresh garlic, chopped fine
couple of shakes of dried rosemary and dried sage (I really have no idea how much, but not a lot.)
Salt and pepper to taste.
chicken broth, to thin the sauce towards the end
I sauteed the garlic, then added the honey, mustard and spices to the saucepan. After this got a bit bubbly, I added it to the pan drippings from the pork chops. It got a bit thick, so I added chicken broth to thin it out a bit. Two of the three pork chops were added back to the pan (the boys probably wouldn't eat this and barely are the last pork chop split between them) to coat. Simple, yet divine. And pretty fast on a Monday night, as dinner was on the table at quarter past six! You have to love that.
Tuesday, February 5, 2013
Because bacon-wrapped meatloaf has GOT to be delicious, right? Three of the four family members agree....it indeed was SUPER! The fourth didn't like it but didn't make gagging noises at it AND was running a fever, so if that wasn't going on I conclude that he would've liked it. It had two of his favorite things making a joint appearance: burger and bacon. What's not to like?
Recipe from Epicurious. I got a lot of Facebook comments on it...one person asked if I had stuffed it with cheese as well, as her mother-in-law prepares it. Well, I didn't, but I know what to strive for next time!
Sunday, January 27, 2013
Except, last time I had set the crockpot on the low setting and cooked for 4+ hours. This time I didn't have time for that, with running around with the boys and doing errands. So I followed the "high" instructions and gave it 2.5 hours. I checked the chicken thighs at the two-hour mark, and to my dismay they were quite raw. Auggghhhh!
There was a time in my life that I would've thrown this out and ordered a pizza. But I hate to waste food, so I set about my salvage mission. With the rice cooking on the stove, I quickly chopped the chicken thighs and added them to a frying pan with a little oil. In another pan I poured all the sauce and set it to boil, so there would be no issues with raw chicken juice.
While all this was going on I decided to try my hand at a new veggie: roasted butternut squash. Ok, so butternut squash is not new in this house, but usually it's served as a puree with cinnamon and butter. Instead I cut it into one-inch pieces and roasted it. I prepared two cookie sheets and roasted it two ways, one with just salt, pepper and olive oil, the other with the aforementioned and some chili paste. Livin' large and flying by the seat of my pants!
With the sauce cooked and safe from the boiling, I added some cornstarch and whisked until it was velvety. Time for plating!
The verdict? Not only "saved" but downright delicious! The chicken flavor was incredible, and the squash was awesome too. Though the chili paste version was much better than the "naked version."
Thank you Food Network, for what you have taught me.