Tuesday, July 18, 2017

What we've been reading

Summer Reading!  We haven't done the library program this summer but we've been reading on our own and together . . . for the together part, mostly audio books.  We have listened to the first two Harry Potter books and this little gem:
In this book, the main character loves food, cooking, and has lost her kitchen privileges due to an unfortunate creme brûlée incident with a blow torch.  My girls loved this book and are looking forward to reading or listening to the sequel soon.  It has inspired them to cook and be in the kitchen more so more cooking adventure posts to come!

One of the things I love about not working in the summer and about vacation, is reading a bunch. These four really stood out to me.  I won't bother summarize or review but I'll put a quote from each book under the image.  Any suggestions for what I should read next??

"It is not an act of bravery to try to save your own village.  It is an instinct to protect what you possess.  Bravery is when you step in to help when you have nothing to lose."


"We read to know we're not alone.  We read because we are alone.  We read and we are not alone.  We are not alone.  We are not quite novels.  We are not quite short stories.  In the end, we are collected works."

"Had they known at these moments to be quietly joyful?  People mostly did not know enough when they were living life that they were living it."

"Rough as life can be, I know in my bones we are supposed to stick around and play our part . . . And it might be you never know the part you played, what it meant to someone to watch you make your way each day.  Maybe someone or something is watching us all make our way.  I don't think we get to know why."


Monday, July 3, 2017

Kids in the kitchen

One of my goals as a mom is to say "yes" to my kids when they want to do something and it might seem inconvenient to me but it would ultimately be good for them.  Lately, there have been a lot of requests to cook, bake, and help in the kitchen so I'm trying to take advantage of that.  I think this has been inspired by a book we've been reading but more on that in my next post!

The other night, I wanted to make fried rice with leftover rice and some grilled mahi-mahi that we needed to use up.  When I told Big she could make that, Middle wanted in on the action, so I said she could be in charge of the kids' food that night.  She made grilled cheese with a side dish of ice cream sandwiches. Little was very happy with the side dish choice and her chore for the evening was setting the table.

Big did a pretty good job following the recipe . . . I had to help her scramble the egg, do some chopping, and judge when the rice was fried enough.

You can find the original recipe for fried rice here.  We added the grilled mahi-mahi at the end until it was heated through.  If you haven't seen my technique for grilled cheese - it's a complete lifesaver and now that Middle can do it, she can help me out at lunch time or supper time.




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Blood Orange Sorbet

 It's almost summer vacation! We started out with a chain this long (27 links) a few weeks ago and now we're down to 8 links.
We had Open House at the girls' school and Mother's Day & Father's Day events in both preschool and kindergarten.  I went with Middle to her last field trip of the year and took Big to visit family and friends in the Midwest.  It seems like now the To Do lists are in full effect . . . everything I need to do to finish up my quarter at work, to get ready for 2 months away, and to get through the last two weeks of the school year with the girls.  It's exciting!





One of the almost summer things we've been doing is using our ice cream maker.  I found David Lebovitz's method for sorbet (link below in the recipe) and I'm sold.  I usually make a simple syrup adding water to the sugar but with his technique, the flavor and texture was outstanding.  I think it's the lack of water and/or the addition of a couple tablespoons of champagne.  Serving sorbet with champagne is always a good idea but adding it to the mixture is something I haven't tried before.  These ratios and the method will work for other fruits / citrus as well.  Two additional notes:  Lebovitz doesn't strain his juice and I recommend tasting the sweetness of your juice and adjusting the sugar amount slightly.  My juice was really sweet so I used less sugar than what it says below.


Blood Orange Sorbet
from David Lebovitz

Ingredients:

Blood oranges
Sugar
Champagne or sparkling wine (optional)

Method:
1.  Juice your oranges and measure the juice
2.  For every 1 cup of juice, add 1/4 cup of granulated sugar
3.  Put the sugar in a small saucepan and add enough juice to saturate the sugar.  Heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat.
4.  Add the liquid with the dissolved sugar to the rest of the juice and place in the refrigerator until chilled.  Optional:  When completely chilled, add 2 tablespoons of champagne or sparkling wine per cup of juice mixture.
5.  Freeze according to your ice cream maker's instructions.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Chicken & Mushrooms


This was a great weeknight meal that reminded me a lot of the  Peppered Beef Stroganoff - you could use this method of making the mushroom sauce without heavy cream to lighten up that recipe or make a dairy free version.  If dairy is an issue, also use all olive oil and no butter when you saute the chicken initially.  I put a note also about gluten - just skip the flour part or use a gf flour if you need to.  Finally, if you don't have or don't want to use the white wine, just substitute more chicken broth for that ingredient.
  
I served this with some roasted veggies and everyone in the family liked it!


Chicken and Mushrooms in a Garlic White Wine Sauce (serves 4)
Skinny Taste Blog
Ingredients:
8 chicken tenderloins, 16 oz total 
2 tsp butter
2 tsp olive oil
1/4 cup all purpose flour (use a gf flour or skip this step to make it gluten free)
3-4 cloves garlic, minced
12 oz sliced mushrooms
1/4 cup white wine
1/3 cup fat free chicken broth
salt and fresh pepper to taste
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions: 
Preheat oven to 200°. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Lightly dredge in flour. 
Heat a large skillet on medium heat; when hot add 1 tsp butter and 1 tsp olive oil. Add chicken to the skillet and cook on medium heat for about 5 minutes on each side, or until chicken is no longer pink. Set aside in a warm oven.

Add additional oil and butter to the skillet, then garlic and cook a few seconds; add mushrooms, salt and pepper stirring occasionally until golden, about 5 minutes.

Add wine, chicken broth, parsley; stir the pan with a wooden spoon breaking up any brown bits from the bottom of the pan. Cook a few more minutes or until the liquid reduces by half. Top the chicken with the mushroom sauce and serve.
4sp

    Thursday, May 4, 2017

    Hash Waffles

    I know I'm late to the waffle party - I haven't made much other than actual waffles in my waffle iron although I've been wanting to try the Pillsbury cinnamon rolls since Hannah told me they work great.

    We're not big potato or hash brown people in general but this recipe has been popular around our house.  Well, after the first time when my husband though it was an actual waffle and poured syrup all over it.  I'll typically make one and split it between the two of us as a side with eggs or omelets.  There's a picture of this with the fritatta in the last post.

    Recipe notes . . . I buy the frozen hash browns that don't have extra ingredients - that are basically just the potatoes.  I imagine you could shred your own and it would be the same but I usually take the short cut and keep a bag in my freezer.  Where the recipe says "Other seasonings," I've tried this with diced green chiles and cumin and usually put hot sauce on it after it's cooked.  You could do chopped spinach, other diced veggies, cooked diced bacon etc.

    Hash Waffle (makes 1 large waffle)

    3/4 cup frozen shredded hash browns (thawed)
    1 egg
    3 T egg whites (about 2 large)
    salt and pepper to taste
    any other seasonings

    Preheat waffle iron.  Beat eggs and seasonings in a bowl.  Stir in thawed hash browns and mix well.  Spray waffle iron with non-stick spray.  Pour mixture into iron and spread evenly.  Cook until browned and cooked through - or when your waffle iron light comes on (or goes off?)

    3sp

    Tuesday, May 2, 2017

    Butternut Squash Fritatta

    After a busy April, I'm back on the blog for May!  In case you forgot what we all look like (or want to see how quickly my kids have been changing and growing), here are a few recent photos.



    Crazy right?  Some days I look at her and wonder where my little Big went . . . sigh . . .

    I've been on a "breakfast-for-dinner" kick since Valentine's Day.  I think it started with my new waffle iron and my discovery of the hash waffle - hash browns in the waffle iron.  These are two of my favorite recent recipes and I think you'll love them for breakfast or for dinner.

    Look at this yummy base for the fritatta!

    Butternut Squash Frittata (6 slices)
    from Emily Bites Blog

    1.5 tsp canola oil
    2 cups butternut squash (cut into bite sized cubes)
    1.5 oz proscuitto or center cut bacon
    1 cup fresh spinach
    8 eggs
    1 cup plain Greek yogurt (I used nonfat)
    1/2 tsp. dried sage
    1/2 tsp. dried thyme
    salt and pepper to taste
    2 oz parmesan cheese (grated or finely shredded)

    Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Heat an oven safe skillet on the stove top to medium high.  Add the oil and butternut squash and stir to coat.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Saute for 5-7 minutes, stirring frequently. Add the proscuitto or bacon and cook, stirring, for another two minutes.  Add the spinach and cook for two more minutes or until the spinach is wilted and everything is nicely browned (like in the photo above).

    While the squash is cooking, crack the eggs into a large bowl, then add the yogurt, sage, thyme, and parmesan cheese.  Whisk to combine into a smooth custard.  Season with salt and pepper.

    When the squash, proscuitto, and spinach are cooked, spray the pan (get the edges and any part that doesn't have some oil from the proscuitto) with olive oil spray.  Then, pour the egg mixture over, stirring slightly to evenly combine with the squash mixture.  Cook on the stovetop at medium heat for 5-7 minutes, or until the very outside edge looks cooked.  Carefully transfer to the preheated oven for 12-15 minutes or until the center of the fritatta is set.

    Cool for 5 minutes in the pan and then slice and serve!

     5sp per slice

    Thursday, March 9, 2017

    Balsamic Roasted Chicken and Veggies


    Okay, super easy and healthy weeknight dinner coming up!  My kids ate this (they picked out the veggies they didn't like and ate the ones they did) and I chopped the vegetables earlier in the day so I could throw it all in the oven after we were done at tennis practice that afternoon.

    You can substitute dried herbs for fresh if you want (reduce to 1tsp each) or breasts for thighs but I think both the fresh herbs and thighs make this melt in your mouth!  You can also add different vegetables.  Just make sure that the chicken and vegetables don't touch (don't crowd the pan - use two if you need to) so it roasts instead of steams and that you cut your vegetables into similar sizes so they cook at about the same rate.

    Balsamic Roasted Chicken & Veggies (serves 4)
    from Skinny Taste blog

    1.5 lbs boneless chicken thighs
    10 medium asparagus, trimmed and cut in half
    2 red bell peppers, sliced
    1 red onion, cut into chunks
    5 oz sliced mushrooms
    2 zucchini, cut into long wedges
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    6 T balsamic vinegar
    2 T olive oil
    1 T chopped fresh rosemary
    1 T chopped fresh sage
    1 T chopped fresh thyme or oregano
    cooking spray
    salt and pepper

    Preheat oven to 425 degrees.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper and spray rimmed baking sheets with olive oil or cooking spray.

    In a large bowl, combine everything (chicken, veggies, vinegar, olive oil, herbs) and massage with your hands.  Add more salt and pepper if you'd like.  Arrange in a single layer on prepared baking sheets. Roast for 20-25 minutes or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender.
    (8sp)