Monday, April 21, 2014

Easter 2014


As the Lenten season and Easter comes to a close, I wanted to share this video with you.  If you read my blog much, you know it's about food and family but today I wanted to share a little bit about my faith.  I was challenged this Easter to think about what I'm living for and what I spend my time focusing on . . . this illustration by Francis Chan puts it in perspective well . . . it's less than 4 minutes so I hope you enjoy it!

We had a wonderful Resurrection Sunday with family and friends.  Here are some photos of the girls dyeing eggs on Good Friday and on Easter morning.




It was fun to host Easter dinner this year.  I've never made a ham and continued that long-standing tradition by having my husband barbecue tri-tip for the meat.  I made appetizers, desserts, and our guests brought the other side dishes.

One of the appetizers I made was an old favorite - David Lebovitz's Tapenade - and the other one was new and I'm sure going to be put in regular rotation.  It was easy, looked pretty, and can accommodate a lot of different types of eaters (vegetarian, gluten free, etc).  I made the quinoa salad the day before and refrigerated it and then just hollowed out my cucumber slices, filled them, and topped with a little feta cheese. 


Quinoa stuffed Cucumbers (makes 24 bite sized appetizers)

2 english cucumbers
1 cup quinoa
1 cup cilantro
1/3 cup flat leaf parsley
2 T mint
6 T olive oil
1/2 zucchini, diced very small
1/2 red bell pepper, diced very small
feta cheese, for topping
salt and pepper, to taste

Cook the cup of quinoa in water or vegetable broth as per the package instructions.  During the last 5-10 minutes of cooking, dump the zucchini and red bell pepper in and put the lid back on.

While it's cooking, coarsely chop the cilantro, parsley and mint and put in a small chopper (or food processor).  Add the olive oil and blend / chop for a few minutes.  Put the olive oil & herb mixture in a bowl.  When the quinoa is done, add it to the bowl and stir well to combine.  Add a little salt and pepper to taste.  Refrigerate the quinoa until it's cool (or you can do this part a day ahead).

Slice the English cucumbers into slices that are at least 1/2 inch thick.  Take a melon baller or metal spoon and scoop out the middle part with the seeds, leaving a layer on the bottom so the quinoa doesn't fall out the bottom.  You're basically making an indentation big enough for about a tablespoon of 
quinoa like this:


Scoop quinoa into the cucumber slices and top with crumbled feta (if desired).

Serve chilled or room temperature.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Apple Fennel Sausage Crepes

I know it's been a little while since I've posted pictures of updates about the girls - they're all getting taller, keeping me on my toes, say the smartest and cutest things, and produce a ton of laundry.  Here's a picture of them on the kitchen counter from this morning (yes, Big just lost her 7th tooth):  

I'll try to do a little Easter recap after the weekend!


Anyhow, I made these savory crepes a few weeks ago for my husband and I.  It was one of those evenings where I got the kids to bed early-ish and we had time to sit and enjoy dinner just the two of us.  I haven't made crepes in ages and I had a great mix from Cost Plus that I wanted to try out.  It's not a sweet mix and works well with savory fillings.  I have a link below to a brown butter crepe recipe if you want to make your own from scratch.

The photo above doesn't do it justice but the combination of leeks, fennel, and apples was delicious.  You could use a ground / bulk Italian sausage (cooked through and crumbled) or use fully cooked links like I did - I thought that the chicken apple sausages form Trader Joe's worked great and made the preparation a little quicker.

Apple Fennel Sausage Crepes (serves 4)
from Fine Cooking

8 crepes (this is a good recipe)
8 oz fully cooked chicken apple sausage, sliced
1/2 tsp. fennel seeds, lightly toasted in a dry skillet and crushed
2 medium tart apples, peeled and diced
2 large leeks, sliced 1/4 inch thick (white and green part) and washed
salt and pepper
olive oil
4 oz goat cheese

Heat a tablespoon of olive oil in a heavy skillet and add the leeks.  Cover and cook for about 20 minutes, stirring frequently, until very soft and fragrant.  Remove from the pan to a large bowl and cover with a lid or foil to keep warm. Drizzle a little olive oil in the same skillet and add the chicken apple sausage, sautéing until lightly brown and warmed through.  Add the fennel seeds.   Scrape it all into the bowl with the leeks.  Add one more tablespoon of olive oil, the apples and a little salt.  Cook, stirring often, until the apples begin to brown, about 4 minutes.  Transfer to the bowl with the sausage mixture.

Prepare the crepes.  To finish the crepes, spread goat cheese down the middle of each crepe and top with the sausage, apple, leek mixture.  Fold the bottom of the crepe up and roll (like a burrito).  Arrange them snugly in a buttered baking dish and bake at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes or until heated through.



Monday, April 14, 2014

Oven Custard Pancake



After many days and weeks of cold cereal, bagels or yogurt for breakfast, I decided we needed something hot for breakfast.  I really liked this custardy pancake but my kids weren't so sure . . . I probably shouldn't have called it "pancake" because it's not what they were expecting.  You could use other berries for topping or even in the swirl.  The pancake definitely sinks from its initial puffiness as you can see in the difference between the top and bottom pictures.

Oven Custard Pancake with Raspberries (serves 8)
from Sunset 4/2011

4 large eggs
1/4 cup honey
1 tsp lemon zest
3/4 tsp salt
1 cup flour
2.5 cups milk
1 cup raspberries
1/4 cup butter, cut into chunks

Optional:
Chopped fresh berries
maple syrup

Set an ovenproof 12 inch frying pan in the oven and preheat oven to 425 degrees (you could also use a 9x13 pan).  Whisk eggs, honey, and zest to blend.  Add salt, flour and 1/4 cup milk and whisk until smooth.  Then, whisk in the remaining milk.

Puree the raspberries in a blender until smooth.  Strain and discard seeds.

Remove pan from oven (carefully!).  Add the butter and swirl until melted and golden.  Pour in batter.  Pour raspberry puree over batter in wide ribbons.  Reduce heat to 400 degrees and bake pancake until deep golden, about 20 minutes.  Let stand 10-15 minutes to firm up (the puffy pancake will fall).

Serve with chopped fresh berries, a little more honey, maple syrup, or plain.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Coffee Creamer



I've been inspired by my friend Lisa's posts to cut down on the amount of money I spend going out for coffee and have been brewing my own at home.  I drink my coffee black sometimes and sometimes I like a little milk or creamer in it but the flavored creamer you can buy at the grocery store grosses me out - look at those scary ingredients sometime!  I made a pumpkin spice flavored version of this in the fall but this time around, I wanted to use up some coconut milk that I had on hand.  It was yummy and lasted me a couple of weeks.  Much cheaper than getting a vanilla latte every morning!

Homemade Coffee Creamer (makes about 1 cup)

Equal parts whole milk and coconut milk (unsweetened) or heavy cream.  Add some maple syrup to sweeten (or sugar) and a flavoring of your choice.  Cocoa powder, almond extract, pumpkin pie spice - be creative!

For this batch, I used 1/2 cup whole milk, 1/2 cup coconut milk, 2 T maple syrup, 1 tsp vanilla and 1/2 tsp cinnamon.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Fish Tacos


I have a hard time thinking of creative ways to prepare fish.  One of my girls' favorite meals is salmon - just plain ol' grilled salmon but they will also eat it if it's marinated in teriyaki sauce and baked.  So, I tend to use that as my default for eating fish.  But . . . these fish tacos were a-m-a-z-i-n-g.  Usually, I order beer battered deep fried fish tacos but here, the cilantro sauce is perfect and I didn't miss the deep fried batter.  To make it even easier, I think you could grill the halibut, chop it and toss it in the warmed cilantro sauce before assembling the tacos - any supper that doesn't take much stovetop time is a bonus!

I can't remember exactly how many tacos this made, but Bree says on her blog that 1 pound of halibut made about 4 tacos . . . you can adjust this recipe to make more pretty easily!

Fish Tacos
Gwyneth Paltrow's recipe via Baked Bree

1 bunch cilantro
juice from 5 limes
1/3 c. olive oil (plus 2T for cooking)
small white onion
2 cloves garlic
1 jalapeno
1/2 T garlic powder
1 T cumin
1 T paprika
salt & pepper
2 lbs halibut
1/2 cup white wine
corn tortillas

Toppings:
salsa
avocado
sour cream
cheese (Cotija or shredded jack)
shredded cabbage
more limes & cilantro

Put the cilantro, lime juice, 1/3 c. olive oil, onion, garlic, jalapeno (seeded), garlic powder, cumin, paprika, salt & pepper in the bowl of a food processor or blender.  Blend until smooth.  Put the puree in a bowl and set aside.

Chop the halibut into small pieces (sometimes I stick it in the freezer for about an hour first to make it easier to chop).  Dry well with a paper towel.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Preheat a saute pan with 2 T of olive oil.  Add the halibut and cook until golden brown, about 8 minutes.  Add the wine and cook until the wine evaporates, about 2 minutes.  Add the cilantro mixture and cook for another minute to heat through.

Heat corn tortillas in a hot dry pan (or oven in a foil packet or microwave).  Add the fish mixture.  Top with any of the toppings listed above or anything else you like on a fish taco.

Saturday, March 29, 2014

My Project

Little wants so badly to be big like her sisters and sit in a chair to eat
Big gave a "Hostess" presentation at school last week with her ideas for planning a Camping party 
Middle loves to help me with any kind of cleaning or cooking

Those are some of the things the kids have been up too lately.  While I was on spring break, I finished a big project that I've been working on for the last couple months:  creating an index of the recipes on this blog.  The labels you seen on the right have been helpful, but now and then I'm looking for a specific recipe and it takes me awhile to find it (even though I'm the one who writes here and knows what lurks behind all these posts with non-recipe titles).  Most of the food blogs that I enjoy reading have an easily navigable index or recipe list of some sort and this has been a goal of mine for a long time.

After 5 years and almost 500 posts, I realized that what I've really been doing is creating an online recipe book & food journal for myself.  If you read my blog (Hi mom!  Hi Judy!) I appreciate you so much and if you'd like to pass along a link to this index to other cooks you know, that would be pretty awesome.


Rereading all 476 posts made me sentimental for how fast my kids have grown up, made me appreciate the kitchen I have today and the things I've learned along the way, and inspired me to revisit some great recipes I'd forgotten about.

Here are just a few of my other random observations about What's for Meat:

1.  I've made a lot of great stuff over the years!  I pointed out this fact to my husband (along with the reminder of how lucky he is to be eating it all).

2.  It can be hard to decide which category some recipes belong under.  I didn't spend too much time agonizing, but sometimes there is a salad recipe that is more of a main dish or a side dish that is really more of a salad (or the other way around).

3.  The labels are useful when you're looking for something with a particular ingredient (zucchini, lemon, etc) or some category like crock pot or vegetarian.  The only special distinction I make in the index is to mark gluten-free recipes.

4.  And about that . . . some recipes may call for flour tortillas but corn can be substituted and the rest of the ingredients are gluten free - I marked those gluten free.  However, if a not-so-obvious substitution (like gluten free soy sauce) can make a recipe gluten free, I did not mark it as gluten free.     The categories that had the most gluten free recipes are ice cream, soup, and salads.

5.  I have a thing for rosemary (and a plant in my backyard).  And chocolate chips.  And brownies.  And I cook way more chicken than any other main dish.

There have been moments over the years when I was sure it was the end of this blog.  I wasn't very inspired, I don't have anything that unique to say here on the good ol' internet, I had three kids . . . but, it's a fun little hobby for me and for now, I'm going to keep plugging along.

Thanks for supporting me!


Thursday, March 27, 2014

Creamy Green Chicken Enchilada Soup



Now that it's officially spring, it finally feels like a California winter and soup weather.  In addition to the Irish Onion Soup, this is a new soup recipe that we just tried and loved.  It's like a cross between the white chicken chili that I love and a corn chowder.  It was delicious and so easy to make in the slow cooker.  I was looking forward to leftovers (I only made a half batch), but alas, there were none.

Creamy Green Chicken Enchilada Soup (8 servings)
Original recipe here

32 oz chicken broth
4 cups green enchilada sauce (or tomatillo salsa)
1.5 lbs chicken breasts
4 oz can diced green chills
3/4 cup water
2 T ground cumin
1 T chili powder
1 tsp. onion powder
1 tsp. garlic powder
1 cup frozen corn
1 8 oz block cream cheese (not fat free)
3/4 cup rice
salt & pepper to taste

Stir together the broth, enchilada sauce, chills, water and spices in the bowl of a slow cooker.  Put the chicken breasts on top and cook on low for 6 hours.  Remove the chicken and shred with a fork.  Add it back to the pot.

Add the corn, cream cheese, and rice and cook for another hour.  Stir together.  If you want it a little soupier, you can add a little more water.  If you want it thicker, you can dissolve 1 T of cornstarch in 1/8 cup water and stir it in and wait another 15 minutes for it to thicken up.