Saturday, April 26, 2014

Easter candy

This post is not where I confess to hiding and then eating 2 bags of coconut Hershey's kisses that I bought on clearance.  No, it's where I share this fun Easter treat that I made for the kids' dessert.  I saw it on Pinterest, it only had 3 ingredients (counting the jelly beans), and it seemed like something that the kids would love . . . and they did!  Hooray for homemade candy and holiday treats.

Chocolate Easter Nests (makes 16-20 small nests)
from a Pumpkin and a Princess blog

1 3/4 cup semisweet or dark chocolate
2 cups shredded coconut
jelly beans

Melt the chocolate in a double boiler.  When it's melted and whisked smooth, add the coconut and stir to thoroughly combine.  Drop tablespoons into mini muffin tins and use the tablespoon to make an indentation in the middle so it looks like a nest.  Refrigerate for 30 minutes or until hardened.  I made these the day before and kept them in the refrigerator.  Fill with jellybeans when you're ready to serve!

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

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, the second time I made these, I just had my husband grill the halibut with salt and pepper and then tossed it with the warmed cilantro sauce.  The girls liked the halibut plain but the green sauce is so, so good. 

I had one pound of halibut and it made enough tacos for 4 of us with some leftover.  How many tacos this exactly makes will depend on how full you fill the tacos.

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

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.