Monday, December 21, 2015

Cake for Two

Watching Food Network shows can be dangerous.  For instance, if you are watching Cutthroat Kitchen you will often find that you have a hankering for whatever the challenge food they are making.  Most of the time it's something that you don't have the ingredients or desire to make right then.

Until that night two weeks ago.

We were watching Cutthroat, and the last challenge is almost always a dessert challenge.  The contestants were making spice cake.  One of them was coming up short on time due to his sabotages, and tossed his cake into the microwave.  You'd think that it wouldn't come out well, right?  Wrong.  It ended up being a great cake and he won.  Brian eyed the cake warily and said, "I'll bet that I could do that."

Five minutes looking for a recipe and 30 minutes after that:  chocolate cake (with frosting!) from our microwave.  The recipe called for making them in a coffee mug.  Lots of flavor, not rubbery at all.

After eating, we decided that this recipe is dangerous to know about.  So we've agreed to never make it again.  :)

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Playing Catch-Up


Life has a way of running away with you sometimes, especially around the holidays.  So normally I would have written a post about each of these things individually.  Instead, here's a group post.  These are all things that we've eaten in the last couple of weeks that I thought were noteworthy...

 Spinach frittata.  Something that I had never had before, and it was awesome.  I'm not sure what the difference is between this and crustless quiche, if there is a difference at all.  Leftovers were delicious for a couple of mornings after we had this for dinner.  

 This is called "Cowboy Caviar."  I made it from a recipe online for the resident holiday party last week.  The recipe calls for corn, black beans, black-eyed peas, cilantro, green onion, tomato and avocado.  They didn't have black-eyed peas at the grocery store so I subbed pinto beans.  This was great with tostitos scoops.

We were going to have friends over for a football game one Sunday but they had to cancel last minute.  So we ate the food anyway (of course!)  Mushroom swiss burgers were incredible, and this warm potato salad was simply divine.  It's a stretch calling it a "salad" instead of roast potatoes but you know what?  The name doesn't matter, it was so good.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Meatless Mondays

We're trying to embrace Meatless Mondays in our house night a week we eat a vegetarian dinner.

The past two weeks have been quite good:

 First, a pasta with butternut squash, feta cheese and pecans.  Awesome, and I ate the leftovers for days!

The the other night was Wild Mushroom Farfalle, out of the October issue of Cooking Light.  I liked this too, with the spoonful of ricotta cheese on top that you stir into your plate.  The only thing I missed was something with a little crunch.  Like maybe toasted walnuts.  Just to give it a little texture.  (When I read that I feel like a Food Network judge on a cooking show, by the way.)

Also, I'd like to add that while we (meaning we the parents) are trying to adopt a meatless meal once a week, the kids have no problem doing it more often.  Meaning:  neither kid would touch this.  Still doesn't stop us from trying, though.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Gettin' Fancy

Last week's dinner menu was more written for the adults than for the kids.  And it's good to do that sometimes.

Two meals stood out:

The chicken and polenta dish looked good enough to offer at a restaurant!  It was delicious to boot....I used to dislike polenta. But now that I know that there's other ways to have it other than a sliced tube at the grocery store, I'm more likely to eat it.  "Tube-y" polenta tastes firm and weird.  This stuff reminded me of mashed potatoes.

And this right here?  Seared scallops over lemony zucchini risotto.  I know, really fancied for a Tuesday night!  Best scallops I've had in a long time.  And this risotto rules, too.  I ate the leftover risotto for breakfast the next two days, with a fried egg on top.  Awesome.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Itty Bitty Pies

I have fond memories of Hostess Apple pies.  You know, the sugary apple pie deliciousness that came two per waxed paper package.  (I'm pretty sure that they had blueberry and lemon pies too, but yuck!)  When I saw "hand pies" on Pinterest, I immediately thought of Hostess pies.  I think Hostess ones were fried though, and obviously not as good as fresh-made, right?

Though pie-like, I wouldn't quite call these pie.  Brian and I have been calling them "Apple Pie Cookies."  They are pretty fantastic and in a word, dangerous.  I'd make them again for sure.  Here's the recipe:  Apple Hand Pies.  I found it on Pinterest and take no claim for it.

 All of the necessary ingredients

 Refrigerated, pre-made piecrust.  This mama doesn't mess around making her own.

 Sean helping by "inspecting the biscuit cutter."

 What makes these little pies special?  A little dollop of caramel sauce in each one.

The finished product.  There WAS four on here, but Brian really wanted one.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

An Apple a Day

Three-day weekends are good for cooking.  So far I've made applesauce this weekend, and overnight apple oatmeal.

The applesauce was my standard fare.  Recipe courtesy of The Joy of Cooking, aka "The Bible."  We've been using this recipe for years, and the only difference this year was using a food processor instead of a food mill.  What ease!

the overnight apple oatmeal is a thing to behold!  One must put it together kind of late in the evening, in order for it to be ready at breakfast.  I peeled and diced 4 apples earlier, and sprinkled them wit vitamin C powder so they didn't turn brown.  (you can find this with the canning supplies.)  You layer the ingredients and then the recipe warns you, DO NOT STIR.  I was skeptical but obeyed its command.  And this morning I was rewarded for my patience with the scent of apple-goodness when I staggered into the kitchen to make coffee.  (I'm kind of a mess in the morning."  This was extremely tasty.  And luckily it makes a lot, so leftovers for the week!  The only critique tat Brian had is that it's heavy on the cinnamon.  I love cinnamon though, but maybe next time I'll adjust it a little.

Next hand pies.  And then I still have more apples, so who knows.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Weekend Warriors

What a weekend in our kitchen.

First, let's talk about this pizza for Saturday lunch.  I had no idea that ricotta, arugula and caramelized onion would make such fantastic pizza toppings.  Unfortunately, you can't reheat pizza with arugula on top, because it wilts.  So we had to eat it all, tough break.

I made stuff for our freezer.  Three freezer bags of ratatouille, and this time I salted the eggplant slices first a la Alton Brown.  It definitely got some of the moisture out, making the finished product less "mushy."  It'll go great with a starch and a little grated Parmesan later.

Then it was time for a magic trick....turning a $4.23 whole chicken into two meals and then boiling the carcass for chicken stock.  (Thank you, rapidly approaching "sell-by" dates!)  And honestly, it didn't take very long.  I just sauteed some aromatics (in this case a whole sliced onion, a couple of carrots and some celery ribs) and added the carcass, covered with water and let it boil for an hour.  I'll strain the fat off the top tonight and put it in the freezer for some delightful chicken soup at a later date.

Now, I've got some overripe bananas to turn into muffins, and yesterday we went apple picking.   Thinking about what to make!  

Friday, October 2, 2015

Deep Freeze

When we first moved to our current home, we decided to buy a chest freezer.  Considering that the freezer in the kitchen is kind of small, this has been really helpful.  Until I opened it up last week and found it to be mostly empty, save for some cookies, a loaf or two of quickbreads and some chicken wings that I am almost certain made the move two years ago.

The freezer is empty and Winter Is Coming.

Well, perhaps winter isn't coming today.  I mean, it's only October.  But perhaps it's time to "realize the dream" of actually filling the freezer with meals.

I've always been one of those types that realizes that keeping ready-made food in the freezer is a good idea.  That the concept of bringing up a meal and defrosting it for dinner, therefore not having to really "Cook" that night but still having a great meal, is a huge time-saver.  I'm just not quite good at putting it into action.  And I really want to be one of those people.

So last weekend, I made meatballs, enough for two meals.  And I froze all of them.  This weekend we're having a roast chicken that I scored for just $4.23!  (hooray for approaching expiration dates.)  After we have a lovely meal paired with cornbread and vegetable sides, I am going to boil the carcass and make chicken stock for a future soup date.

As for the rest?  I'm already combing Pinterest for ideas.  This is my "Year of the Freezer."

Sunday, September 20, 2015

New Cookbook in the House!

Last week was Brian's birthday and Will picked out a new cookbook for his gift.  Since  Dad is a big fan of the Food Network show "Chopped" why not a cookbook from that show?  He loved it and we tried two recipes this weekend.
The first was a warm banana pudding with caramel sauce.  I love that I'm married to someone who, on a Saturday night will spontaneously decide to make treats from scratch.  :)  Let me tell you, it smelled incredible.  The taste was good too, though it felt weird to be eating pudding that hadn't "set."  And if you are eating hot banana and caramel topping, watch out!  My tongue and throat are still slightly scorched. 
Next up was grilled chicken sandwiches for lunch, with a parsley pesto spread.  I had a ton of parsley to use up on the deck so this recipe seemed like a no-brainer.  I'd never had anything other than basil pesto, and clearly I've been missing out!  This also had a great way of toasting the bun using an egg white instead of butter or just dry in the toaster oven. 
This cookbook has a lot of potential.  And obviously,  since I've marked it up, it's here to stay. 

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Eggs Aren't Just For Breakfast....

...they can make for a pretty tasty lunch, too.  I come home for lunch most days and reheat leftovers.  No leftovers in the fridge....and neither pb+j nor canned soup looked appetizing.  This was quick and delicious paired up with some leftover grilled potatoes.  Add a small chocolate milk and the latest Webs catalog and it's a very fine lunch indeed!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Either Way You're Only Getting Half a Pan

I learned a hard don't leave cast iron items in the oven while baking.

For one thing, they make it so that the oven takes forever to heat up.  I left a skillet and a grill pan on the bottom shelf when I was making banana "snack cake" and later on in the week I made magic bars for the karate picnic.  Yes, I made this mistake twice.

The edges were the only cooked pieces on the banana cake, I was able to salvage this much and throw the rest away.  The boys loved it, though.  Will asked for a taste, and then took the piece from me with a big smile and a "Mine!"  :)  It's going to be the first recipe I write into The Notebook in a while.

 Good Cake.

Bad Cake.

The magic bars edges were destroyed.  Not only because of the cast iron roommates hogging space in the oven, but because I thought that the first step of melting butter in the pan would be enough to grease it.  Yeah.....not so much for the sides.  This is how much I had to throw out, and I despise throwing out food.

So....lessons learned and shared from me, so you don't have to learn them for yourself.

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Peachy Keen

This past weekend we decided that it was high time to bring the ice cream maker out again.
This time, we went for a summer favorite that we'd never tried:  peach ice cream.  And whose recipe was the obvious first choice?  That's right, Alton Brown....who just hit a million Facebook "likes" last week and celebrated with some live videos!

Alton Brown's Burned Peach Ice Cream

This was fantastic, though we did have to melt it and re-churn so it wouldn't be rock-solid.  No pictures, it didn't last long enough.  I would definitely do this again.

Friday, August 7, 2015

Flavors of Summer

We're trying all sorts of salads this summer....this week's is a corn and tomato salad.  Fresh corn, tomatoes from my garden, fresh basil,  a little onion, olive oil and vinegar and salt/pepper to taste.  Taste?  Delicious!  I think I'll be doubling a batch to go to a picnic later this month.

Additionally, I never "got" people that eat tomatoes like an apple.  Now I know the joy of it....only a fresh-off-the-vine tomato will do!!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Summer Lunchin'

This week's recipes are all things that I've wanted to make for awhile.  Everything's on Pinterest! 
We started with this salad:  chicken and watermelon.  It was quite good, and surprisingly, all flavors that play together nicely.  I was a bit apprehensive about blue cheese crumbles and watermelon but was pleasantly surprised.  It also calls for chicken breast, balsamic vinegar, fresh spinach and sliced almonds.  Note:  the balsamic boiling on the stove smells terrible, but the reduced vinegar at the end of the boiling really works here.  Just don't  soak it all over the salad, a tablespoon is plenty. 
It also clocks in at 342 calories and I have enough ingredients to make it for lunch again tomorrow.  Bonus!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

From (My) Plant to (My) Table

Ta-Da!  Pesto, made from MY home-grown basil!

It wasn't bad for my second try.  I'll tell you....using a food processor makes all the difference.  Anyone who tells you that you can make it in a blender is crazy.  This is actually the first time I ever used the food processor myself.  And man, did it show....I couldn't get it running and Brian had to show me that I had it assembled backwards!

This called for half a cup of pine nuts, three cups of packed basil, a couple cloves of garlic, half a cup of grated fresh parmesan cheese and half a cop of olive oil, along with salt and pepper to taste.  Three cups of packed basil is a lot more than I thought, it wiped out more than half of my deck box:

The recipe also said "The more the merrier" when it came to garlic, so I used four cloves.  Two of them were huge though, so I'd say that it was closer to six.  So I'd politely disagree, that's a lot of garlic.  Didn't stop us from eating it though, we're no strangers to garlic and love the taste.  It's a good thing that we both had it, though.  :)  It might be different if you roasted the garlic the night before you assemble the pesto, but I'm not sure what that would do to the oil and other ingredient ratio or if it would work.

Now I'm off to find out if you can freeze pesto....because if you can I know what I'm putting in the freezer for this fall and winter.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Herb Harvest!!!

This is the first year that I've been successful at growing herbs in deck boxes.  And having herbs that you can just snip and add to your cooking is awesome!

First the cilantro....we have so much of it.  I love it, especially in guacamole or tacos.    There was a sweet cilantro salad dressing the other day too.  Homemade salad dressing tastes SO much better and is apparently better for you, too.

Brian made a quick homemade spaghetti sauce the other night and used fresh parsley and basil. It was delicious.

Next up:  cilantro in homemade salsa and perhaps a basil pesto.  I'm loving this!  Now, if my tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini come up, it will be a perfect growing summer.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

One and Only

I've never been a fan of ground turkey.

There, I said it.  It's just not as tasty as ground beef.  Sure, it's better for your health but turkey meatloaf is icky, and don't even get me started on turkey meatballs.  Turkey meatballs with tomato sauce are just plain said.

However, with that being said, I was pleasantly surprised last week with I found this recipe on Pinterest for Thai Turkey Burgers with Broccoli Slaw.  With the right veggies and herbs, these were fantastic.  Garlic, ginger, cilantro....all good stuff.  It made 6 or 7 patties and I had the rest of them as the week went on, over a little rice or quinoa with a smear of hoisin  sauce on top.  I'd certainly make them again.  The slaw, well, it was so-so.  I appreciated the flavors but after the first serving it got a bit mushy in the fridge so I threw it out.

So there you go, Ground turkey, for turning me into a believer.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Struggle is Over?

Thanks to this post, six little words have changed our lives at home.  

I was pretty skeptical when I read it.  Putting food in front of a kid, and telling them they don't have to eat it sounds crazy.  But the struggling over getting the boys to eat was just getting to be too much to handle for both Brian and I.  Especially Sean.....the kid that would only eat chicken nuggets and pasta.  (NO SAUCE Mom, only butter and cheese.)  We were game to try.  So one Wednesday night while I was out, Brian sat them down at dinner and told them that we had new rules:  We would put food on the plate, whatever we were having for the night.  And they didn't have to eat it.  Sean literally went up to Brian and hugged him and said "thanks, Dad."  Just like that--taking the pressure off already made a difference.

We still write a menu every week.  We pair new things with familiar things, like a casserole with a side of fruit, or a slice of bread and butter with meat that they're unfamilar with.  At first they didn't eat much, but they're starting to try the new-ish foods.  Will's discovered that he actually likes buttered corn, and Sean has found cheese that he will eat besides American cheese.  Both kids eat roast chicken instead of dino nuggets.  One of Sean's new favorite things to say is "I tried it and I didn't like it, but it wasn't bad." One night Will was playing with some makeshift chopsticks and actually tried a sweet potato fry.   Neither kid asks every night what's for dinner as soon as I pick them up and then cries over the menu.  Plus we let them help decide what's on the menu one night a week.

The biggest hurdle was to step back and just let things BE.  For Brian and I to make our plates, sit back and say "You don't have to eat it" and remember that they won't starve.  Once we got there, it got a lot less stressful than constantly saying "You have to try it." or "You like steak/rice/insert your own choice here, now eat it!"  

I don't know if it's a permanent solution, but dinnertime is a lot happier in our house!

Brewin' the Tea

In the "I never knew I wanted that!" department:  the kids got me an iced tea brewstation for Mother's Day, so I can make my own unsweetened iced tea.  It gets expensive to buy it bottled from the store!  I find it surprisingly easy to use, and convenient too.  And I also received an infusing pitcher.....basically a plastic pitcher with a lid and a column with holes down the middle.  You fill it with fruit to infuse your drinks with flavor.  So far I've only made strawberry tea but it's delicious.  (It had to sit overnight in the fridge to get there, though.)

I've got big plans for the mango and raspberries in my fridge later this week.  And maybe later, lemon and blueberry.  :)

Monday, May 11, 2015

In the Name of Healthy Eating

The last few months have been about establishing healthier eating habits.  I haven't shared a lot because healthier sometimes is a bit dull.  I will say that we've been more adventurous in our eating, such as willingness to try things like tempeh. Yesterday it was roast chicken enchiladas from ATK ' S Healthy Eating cookbook, last week it was mixing spaghetti squash with pasta.
Tonight was something new that I'd never think that Brian would suggest:  portobello mushroom burgers.  Yep....a big grilled mushroom cap on a whole wheat bun.  I thought that it was so-so, but he really liked them. 
I'm willing to try anything once, and this healthier game is no exception.

Thursday, April 16, 2015

Fish Week

Two opportunities for fish this week.....first, my favorite fried seafood place is open for the season!  Brian suggested that we go there for lunch on Wednesday, and it didn't disappoint.  It never does.  :)  I had the fried haddock dinner and he got a fish sandwich.  We usually go like twice a year so next time I'll have their awesome fried clams.  I don't even eat fried clams other places anymore, they're sad replacements for this real deal.

Now, to balance all that fried deliciousness, we had something healthier the night before.  Swordfish with a grapefruit and avocado salsa.  It was pretty good!  Grapefruit salsa wasn't something I ever pictured myself eating but it was quite refreshing.  I'd definitely make it again.

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Weird Cooking Methods

Last week we made a shrimp and pasta recipe that was.....not good shall we say.  It was out of a healthy eating cookbook and featured lemon, red pepper, cream cheese and whole wheat pasta.  First of all, it took forever to make.  That is likely because you are supposed to put the shrimp and cream cheese into the sauce OFF the heat, stir a bit, then cover for seven minutes and let the shrimp "cook."  I took the lid off the pan and found mostly-raw shrimp and cream cheese melted into this unattractive "hunks."  Brian put the whole thing back on the stove and got it made, but the lemon juice (from two large lemons, way too much!) with the red pepper was just overpowering.  We put the leftovers in the fridge, and threw them out a week later.

I guess that not every meal can be a star.  This one certainly wasn't!

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Weekend Eats

This past weekend brought to you by the letter "S."  "S" is for salad, salmon and stew.

Lunch on Saturday was a game of "What can we use up?"  A quick scan of ingredients put together a salad of spinach and arugula, sliced avocado and the leftover frozen scallops wrapped in bacon from Valentine's Day last month.  (Of course we cooked them first.  Frozen sounds barbaric.)  A spicy mayonnaise dressing tied it together nicely and it was a lot more filling than I would've surmised.  I wasn't really hungry til dinner!

And DINNER!     Another trip to the Disney cookbook from our trip last year, to salmon wrapped in phyllo dough. It also had a lovely spinach, cream cheese and sundried tomato filling with the salmon.  It was in a oft-used word, awesome.  I can't wait to have the last one for lunch today.

And finally, stew.  There's a new collection of cookbooks at the library from Good Housekeeping, each volume is "400 calories or less."  I brought home the Comfort Foods one and we made the chicken pot pie and "light" beef and broccoli a few weeks ago.  This time I brought home "Italian" and "Chicken Dishes."  Going through the Italian book on Friday night I decided to try the lentil stew with butternut squash.  Lentils aren't something we typically eat, but once I saw the protein and fiber counts I decided to give it a try.  (20 grams each, by the way.)  Fiber is a tough thing for hubby and I to get, but we're working on it.  It was a crockpot recipe, and it took about eight hours.  I didn't have the 2 lbs butternut squash that the recipe called for so I subbed in some carrots.  The result had good flavor and we'll eat it all this week at lunchtime.

So really, it was a good weekend in the kitchen, and all brought to you by the letter "S."  "S" is certainly a good letter for the kitchen.  :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

Eat Your Veggies!!

We're always looking for new, innovative ways to get more fruits and veggies.  OK.....we're always looking for ways to make them palatable and not eat as many carbs.  Brian and I are total carb lovers.
The first one was my idea:  baked zucchini parmesan.  And by "my" idea, I mean that I found it on Pinterest and decided to make it one night.  It was quite easy, and fresh too.  Served with some marinated chicken and a little penne.

I love to test-drive cookbooks before buying them, because it stinks to buy a book, like one or two recipes and despise the rest.  This is where the library really comes in handy.  I brought home a Good Housekeeping Book of comfort foods that are 400 calories or less.  These crockpot pulled pork sandwiches came out of it, as well as the recipe for "Honeyed radishes and turnips."  Normally I don't like turnip.  But this was surprisingly sweet and delicious!  I think it would also go well with kielbasa and a scoop of mashed potato.  

Friday, March 6, 2015

Sunday Comfort Food: Chicken and Dumplings

Sundays are good for a warm, comforting meal, especially in the winter.  This week we had chicken and dumplings.

Let me just tell you, the house smelled AMAZING while it cooked.  And why wouldn't it, with onions, celery, chicken thighs, carrots, broth and bread-y goodness that is the dumpling?  Snow was falling, food was simmering, it was an iconic Winter Sunday.

And best of all--three servings for leftovers, and it's another food that tastes even better the next day.  Happiness.

Friday, February 27, 2015

A Science Experiment (Or, Why I'm Never Eating Promise Again)

Every Friday this winter, I've hosted a Coffee Social at work.  Residents come down, pay a buck for coffee and a pastry, and get to do something besides stare at their own walls.  To change it up today, I offered bagels.

Bagels for a crowd is tough if you're using a toaster oven.  Or worse, a toaster.  So I got the idea of toasting them in the oven.  What do you suppose people did before there were toasters, besides eat the bagels soft??  I spread each one with butter and put it in the community room's oven and checked on it after about four minutes.  They all looked golden brown and delicious.  Only I ran out of butter.  And I didn't know if they would toast well with nothing on them.

A woman who lives on the first floor said that she had some, only it was Promise.  In the thick of it, I said sure.  I had several more bagels to toast and didn't want to disappoint anyone.

Here is where the science experiment comes in:  the bagels that were toasted with butter were crisper, and the butter "sank" into the bagel.  The bagels that were toasted with Promise....weren't.  They developed these oil slicks on top and the spread never soaked into the bagel.  I was unfortunate to get a bagel half dressed in Promise, and I can still taste the plastic-y aftertaste two hours later.

The weird thing for me is that I used to buy "buttery spreads" for years, and only in the last five or so have I switched to real butter.  When I was eating stuff like Promise on a regular basis, I didn't notice.  At the time I was also putting Splenda in my coffee and was no stranger to diet soda.  Actually, I am a former Diet Coke addict.  I drank it non-stop for about a year in college.  It was the first thing I bought every morning and I set a can down on my nightstand every night.  I probably drank a 12-pack of diet coke a day, the more that I had the more I wanted.  And I felt like crap.  Quitting was tough, too, the withdrawal headaches were insane!!

So, as far as I'm concerned, these fake butters are never coming in the house again.  I gave up on the Splenda some time ago.  It's best to go with the real things.  I'm not going to go crazy with the "this is real and I'm not eating this anymore" and cut all processed foods out of mine and my family's lives or anything.  I don't have time to make everything from scratch and neither does my husband.  But this is a change that I don't think we'll regret anytime soon.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Valentine's Day at Home

Brian and I aren't big on going out to dinner on V Day.  It was an experience from ten years ago that ruined it....reservations at a well-known Italian restaurant in the city.  Only to have to wait over an hour after our reservation at a crowded bar that was packed tight like sardines.  From then on most of our Valentine's Day dinners have been at home.  I say "most" because one of our best was a hockey game and subs at D'Angelos.  I'm being serious, it was fun and I can't remember what year it was.

So scenes from this year's dinner.  First, let me tell you that the kids had chicken nuggets and mac n cheese in front of the TV.  Anything to keep them happy so we could enjoy our meal and each other's company.

First, bruschetta on pizza crust.  Fresh, garlicky and delightful.  

Then, the main course.  NY strip steak with red wine sauce,  snow crab legs, baked potato and asparagus with parmesan.

And an hour or two later while watching TV, homemade molten chocolate cake with a little vanilla ice cream.

With dinner like that, why go out??  Happy Valentine's Day!

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Date Night!

On a rare night out, we got out to a Japanese hibachi place for a sushi dinner.  Brian and I hadn't had sushi out in ages! 

When the sashimi dinner came out for him, it was incredible.  This thing was more than anticipated.....this tub - like thing filled with crushed ice, shells and color changing LIGHTS under the ice!  And to top it off, raw tuna arranged into a rosebud.  Almost too pretty to eat.  Almost.   

We walked out of the restaurant very happy and with no appetite for the swanky dessert place two doors down.  Now that is a first.  :)

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Snow-Day Soup

While walking around the grocery store last week I got a weird craving--butternut squash and apple soup.  It was totally the power of suggestion, after hitting the produce aisle.

Then I got the flu and didn't get to making the soup until a week later.  Still, it was hot and delicious and went well with a grilled cheese sandwich for an easy Sunday lunch.  Made enough for the freezer AND sent some to my parents today.  :)

Thursday, January 29, 2015

We Do Snowstorms Right

I'm a lucky girl.  When Brian hears that there's going to be a storm and we're going to be snowed in, he starts dreaming up something good to cook.  Because, if you're going to be stuck inside, you might as well eat well.

This particular storm:  chicken and waffles, and our first homemade ice cream.

First up, chicken and waffles.  I'd never had chicken and waffles before.  I knew that it was a Southern thing, and I've said it before:  I adore southern cooking.  We don't eat a lot of southern food often because done right, it's laden with calories.

Now, I couldn't see what the big deal was about chicken and waffles because I was picturing a fried chicken breast on a plate, side by side with a waffle with maple syrup and butter.  And although that sounded intriguing, it wasn't WOW!  This is incredible!

Suffice it to say, I get it now:

This. Was. Incredible!  Fried chicken, in a batter with tabasco flavoring, served atop a perfectly crisp waffle, and then topped with a pan gravy that has a little bit of maple syrup in it.  The most beautiful pairing of sweet and savory that I have ever tasted.  That being said, it's certainly not going on our menu again anytime soon.  And I don't feel the need, because a once-in-a-long-while treat like this is the greatest.   I don't want it to lose it's special-ness.

And now for the ice cream...Brian got an ice cream maker for Christmas, because when watching Cutthroat Kitchen or Chopped he always remarks "We should make our own ice cream!"  It's definitely not cheaper than buying ice cream, but certainly fresher.  And it doubles as a fun activity for kids.  Will helped make the base, and he smashed the cookies for our inaugural ice cream batch:  Chocolate Cookies and Cream.

It was deliciously rich, and I'm glad it doesn't make a bigger batch.  The only critique that Brian and I agree on:  scrape the chocolate cream out of the oreos next time.

Next time we may make strawberry ice cream.  I'm not a fan of artificial strawberry flavored anything, but I'll bet fresh strawberry ice cream would be incredible!  Or banana, with bits of Nilla Wafers.  Good Lord, the possibilities!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Applause for Applesauce

This isn't a great photo, but it's of one of the greatest cakes we have ever made.  Applesauce cake.

When one thinks of "applesauce cake" they usually envision a lighter version of spice cake, using applesauce to replace the fats like butter or shortening.  Not this cake.

This cake is from a Disney cookbook that we brought home from our trip this past summer.  (Hubby gets cookbooks as souvenirs, I usually hit the local yarn shop for mine)  We had one jar of my mother's homemade applesauce left and it was perfect for this cake.  It had a sugar cookie crust on the bottom and the best streusel ever.  Seriously, this cake is worth raving about.  In fact, I wasn't at all upset when Hubby couldn't bring leftovers to work!  It is certainly going to come with us to our next party.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Orange is the New Ingredient

In the "something different"dept, chicken with orange and feta.  Served with couscous.  It was a nice, light meal from an America's Test Kitchen book that I brought home from the library.  It's all about healthier fare, which is the opposite of what ATK usually focuses on.  I'd definitely make this again.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Coconut Curry In A Hurry

New to us on the home front:  shrimp coconut curry!  The sauce was easy enough to put together...only coconut milk, fish sauce,  red curry paste, a little brown sugar and cornstarch.   Shrimp with fresh veggies (bean sprout, red pepper and snow peas.)

  Brian and I agreed it could have even had a little crushed red to make it spicier.  It came together quickly for a Monday Night supper and is definitely a keeper.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

First Meals of 2015

The holidays have passed, and now we're happy to get back to a routine.  And also, cook some healthier, less rich food.  Not that we don't love the rich stuff, because we do.

Brian got a new 30-minute meal cookbook for Christmas put out by America's Test Kitchen.  So far we've had three recipes from it and have plans for more.  Like most things ATK puts out, everything has been good so far.

First dinner:  Salmon with lime and spice, with rice and broccoli.  Nothing too fancy...

Saturday night: white chicken chili.  This was definitely more than 30 minutes, more like 45.  It probably has more to do with the fact that dried hominy was used instead of the canned hominy that the recipe listed...but oh well. Hominy was a new ingredient to us, and took a little getting used to.   Leftovers yesterday weren't quite as chewy, and the flavor was really good.  It's weird eating chili with no tomatoes or beans, I definitely prefer the other way better.

I roasted a chicken on Sunday, and we had baked potatoes and roast carrots and parsnips.  The whole dinner in the oven, yeah!  Roast parsnips are so delicious and sweet.

last night:  meatless Monday!  Tortellini with asparagus and peas, in a tarragon cream sauce.  Yeah, I said healthier and less rich.  Total lie tonight, but no meat, so it's a trade?

Tonight's dinner is scallop risotto with tomatoes.  I'm dying to see if the "thirty minute recipe" is the real deal or full of lies.  We shall see.