Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Food Network Chefs Cooking Challenge

Sarah at I Thank My Mother hosts the FNCCC, where every week a different Food Network host/ess is picked and you are free to choose any of that persons recipes to cook and share.

This week is Ina Garten. The Food Network site has over 600 of her recipes, but it didn't take me long to find one to help me use up some potatos and leftover sausage that needed to be eaten - Country Hashed Browns

5 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 pounds boiling potatoes, peeled and 1/2-inch diced
1 1/2 cups chopped yellow onions (2 onions)
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 tablespoons minced scallions, white and green parts
1/2 pound smoked ham slices, 1/2-inch diced (I used some chopped up leftover sausage)

Melt the butter in a large (10 to 12-inch) saute pan. Add the potatoes, onions, salt, and pepper and cook over medium-low heat for 15 to 20 minutes, turning occasionally with a flat spatula, until the potatoes are evenly browned and cooked through. (Allow the potatoes to cook for 5 minutes before turning.) Turn off the heat and add the parsley, scallions and ham. Reheat on top of the stove or over a hot charcoal grill.

This was very delicious - any dish full of potatos is a hit with me.
Thanks to Sarah for the challenge, and go check out her blog for the list of upcoming chefs and weeks.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Hot breakfast in less than 5 minutes

Life has changed for Scott and I. Understatement of the year when you have a kid, I know. Gone are the days when we could go to sleep and get up when we wanted, eat when we wanted, go out when we wanted. Now everything revolves around the baby. Things like sleeping, eating and going out can only happen when he's awake (or asleep), or happy, or at least not screaming. And I am not complaining! No, no, no! But man, it's all an adjustment.
The biggest adjustment for me is eating. During my pregnancy, nausea up to the 8th month helped me not gain a ton of weight, which was great since I did not stop myself from eating whatever I wanted. But now that I am nursing (too much information?) I am starving all the time. ALL THE TIME. And it sucks when I'm alone with the baby and he's eating or crying or drifting off to sleep in my arms and I can't put him down and get something to eat. No lie, a couple of times my stomach growling has actually woken him up.
This is a sandwich we've been making for years and it is perfect to make to eat on the go. It's also fast to make and you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. Here we go:

For a basic breakfast sandwich I use an english muffin (or bagel), cheese, an egg and some deli ham.

You can change this up as you like - sometimes we use leftover bacon or sausage if we have it in place of the ham. Sometimes I leave out the ham and add tomato slices instead. I usually use a cheese slice, but sometimes slices of cheddar or mozza if I don't have cheese slices.

Mostly I don't add condiments, but you could use butter, mayo, mustard, ketchup, hot sauce, brown sauce - whatever combo appeals to you.

Split the english muffin and toast it. While it's toasting, crack the egg into a microwave safe ramekin. Season with salt and pepper if desired. I always scramble mine.

Microwave until the egg is just set (or to your liking). I nuke mine in 20 second intervals until done. Alternatively you could cook your egg in a pan on the stove.

Assemble your breakfast! English muffin on the plate. Condiments if you're using them. Then your egg, ham, and cheese on the muffin.

Eat, with some ketchup or brown sauce on the side for dipping, if you're so inclined.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010


I can't believe it, I've missed baking with my Bread Baking Babes for the second month in a row.

But I have a very gorgeous excuse:

My apologies to all the ladies. Please visit their blogs (listed over on the right) to see the bread of the month - Naan.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Earthquake in Haiti - donate if you can

World Vision Canada


Canadian Red Cross

American Red Cross

Yele Haiti




Tuesday, January 12, 2010

food and links

If I could go back and change one thing from my pregnancy, it would be to cook and freeze a bunch of stuff for easy lunches and dinners for after the baby was born. Every book and magazine I read suggested freezing some lasagnas, casseroles, etc, and stocking up on basic necessities. We stocked up on kleenex and toilet paper, canned soup and cans of beans and tomatos. We bought pork tenderloins and ground beef and chicken, but instead of preparing stuff with them, we froze them as is. I figured, foolishly, that one of us would be able to whip up dinner while the other took care of the baby.
The first couple of weeks
crawled flew by in a haze of sleeplessness, pain (c-section), and new parent nerves. Most days I couldn't comb my hair, much less whip up dinner. Thank goodness for my parents, who shopped and provided us with food that first little while.
Since we got a (slight) grasp on our new situation, I've tried hard to make tasty, healthy meals that mostly can provide leftovers for other meals. Here's some stuff we've eaten that we enjoyed, and you might too:

This is Cincinnati Chili which is a combo of chili and spaghetti and is really quite wonderful. The sauce is slightly sweet and spicy from ingredients like cinnamon and chocolate, and there are beans! and cheese!

The recipe calls for 1 1/2 lbs of ground beef, but I used 1 lb of leftover Turducken from Christmas. I also mixed the beans right into the sauce, so I could freeze the leftovers, and used green onions to sprinkle on top instead of raw white onions. SO GOOD. I got enough sauce for 3 meals. We will make this on a regular basis.


This one was so easy and also very good - chicken and waffles.
I have long wanted to try chicken and waffles, but believe me there are no restaurants around here that serve food like that. I don't really love frying at home, but this recipe shallow fries chicken tenders (I just sliced up a chicken breast). It also uses frozen waffles, which I always have in the house. We used the last of the excellent Turducken gravy for this, and that made it that much easier.

Whoever thought up this food combination is A GENIUS. This one doesn't really count as healthy though.

I love sweet and sour meatballs, so I had to try these Mini Skillet Meatloaves for their sweet and sour glaze. They were very easy - I mixed up and formed the loaves in the morning and made the sauce, so we only had to cook them and heat up our side dishes at dinnertime. Paxton decided to have a screaming fit when dinner was ready, so there are no photos. But please, enjoy this one:


Scott's favorite dish out of this group is this one, the Smokin' Chicken Burger. Ground chicken and mushroom patties topped with carmelized onions and a red wine sauce. We also added cheese because we could. Pow!


I am still so enjoying reading Cookin' with Coolio and the next recipe I tried was for Karate Meat. Sliced steak cooked with onions, garlic, chile powder and 5 spice powder. I added a bell pepper cause I had one.

This book seriously is fantastic, and I was so happy to hear from 2 people who bought it after reading about it here. I hope they are enjoying it as much as I am. You should get it too!

Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Christmas Dinner 2009

For the past 3 holiday seasons we've branched out from the standard turkey and tried something new for Christmas dinner. Back in 2006 we went Swedish. 2007 was French Canadian, and last year we did Italian.
This year we didn't stray really too far from a traditional dinner - we had a Turducken.
A Turducken is a partially deboned turkey that's stuffed with a deboned duck that has been stuffed with a deboned chicken. And then the chicken is stuffed with stuffing. Sounds cool, doesn't it?
We were quite startled to find Turkucken in the grocery store here. I can't buy corn tortillas, but there's turducken?

Our Turducken was cajun style, stuffed with a sausage stuffing and in a spicy cajun rub. Here it is right before being tossed in the oven.

And here it is 4 hours later. Isn't it pretty? And very low maintenance. All we had to do was uncover it after 3 hours, and then take its temperature to make sure it's done.

Here's the inside. Doesn't that make your mouth water? I was expecting to be able to see the 3 layers of 3 birds, but you can't tell the chicken from the turkey from the duck. Or at least I can't. But doing a search shows that this is somewhat normal.

The thing, by the way was amazing. The meat was so moist and tender and the cajun seasoning was excellent.

Here's our Christmas feast. We had dinner at our house and my parents were fabulous enough to cook all the food but the Turducken which we cooked and bring it to our house. They are super. In addition to the Turducken we had regular stuffing, mashed potatos, green bean casserole, brussel sprouts, roasted carrots and parsnips and of course gravy. The gravy was amazing. We also set out Christmas crackers, but didn't pull them for fear of waking the baby.

For dessert my parents made Louisiana Bread Pudding with Lemon Sauce and Chantilly Cream. No pictures, but ohmygod, you have to make this! Best bread pudding I've ever had and you can't skip the 2 sauces. Since I am typing this with one hand while I have the baby in the other, I won't write out the recipe, but here's a link to someone who's made it. The only difference I see in the recipe is that they've increased the raisins from 1/4 cup.
Bread Pudding, Lemon Sauce and Chantilly Cream recipes

Friday, January 01, 2010


Well since I can't focus long enough to write anything about food I've made lately, here's the end of the year quiz that I also did in 2006 and 2007.

1. What did you do in 2009 that you’d never done before?
I had a baby! We went to Alaska. We celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary.

2. Did you keep your new year’s resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
Last years resolution was like so many years before, to drop some pounds and get in better shape. I made a start on it, but suffered from bad morning sickness from pretty much the second I got pregnant until about my 8th month. Not that I was hoping to lose weight while pregnant, but I was unable to do any sort of exercise except walking, and a lot of the time I couldn't even do that.
My other recurring resolution is to be more organized and I failed on that in 2009.
My resolutions for 2010 are the same - get more fit and become more organized.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
Yes! ME!

4. Did anyone close to you die?
Yes, Scotts Grandmother passed away in the summer, and in December a former work friend died.

5. What countries did you visit?
The U.S.

6. What would you like to have in 2010 that you lacked in 2009?
Here's what I said before - More confidence in myself; the ability to not worry so much about things I can't control; World Peace; some new clothes. And a smaller ass.
I would still like these things, along with more self discipline to do things that have to be done, not to put them off and off and off.

7. What dates from 2009 will remain etched upon your memory, and why?
The night we found out I was pregnant. When we told our parents. The day Paxton was born. Our first Christmas as a family of 3.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Growing and birthing a baby.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Same as always. I haven't been very organized.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
After being induced and going through 32+ hours of labor, I had a c-section.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
Baby gear, I guess?

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
Scott, for sure, and my Mom and Dad. They were all so wonderful and supportive during the pregnancy and since Paxton was born. I am so lucky to have such a great family.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
The government. Lying liars who lie.

14. Where did most of your money go?
Mortgage. Getting ready for the baby.

15. What did you get really, really, really excited about?
The baby, of course.

16. What song will always remind you of 2009?
Just Dance by Lady Gaga. On mornings I had really bad morning sickness and had to go to work, I would sing along in the car to pep myself up.

17. Compared to this time last year, are you:
a) happier or sadder? 
b) thinner or fatter? 
c) richer or poorer?
Shockingly I have already lost the weight I gained during pregnancy, so it's probably a draw.

18. What do you wish you’d done more of?
Being organized. Resting. Worrying less.

19. What do you wish you’d done less of?
Worring about things that don't matter in the "big picture".

20. How did you spend Christmas?
We spent it at our house. My parents came for dinner.

21. Did you fall in love in 2009?

22. What was your favorite TV program?
Glee, baby!

23. Do you hate anyone now that you didn’t hate this time last year?
Hate is such a strong word. But sadly yes, there is.

24. What was the best book you read?
I didn't keep my book list like I have the past couple of years, and my memory is non-existent now. I did re-read My Life in France by Julia Child.

25. What was your greatest musical discovery?
I liked Lady Gaga, the Glee soundtrack. Anything I could sing along to.

26. What did you want and get?
A new member of the family.

27. What did you want and not get?
A new car, a winning lottery ticket.

28. What was your favorite film of this year?
Julie and Julia. LOVE Meryl Streep.

29. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
Scott took me out for dinner to my favorite restaurant in town and we shared a bunch of appetizers instead of entrees. Duck fat fries, I love you most of all.

30. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Daily massages and weekly pedicures. And a winning lottery ticket.

31. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2009?
If it even remotely fits, wear it.

32. What kept you sane?

33. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
I still heart Miikka Kiprusoff.

34. What political issue stirred you the most?
Budget cuts, the HST. Damn you, Government.

35. Who did you miss?
It depends on my hormone level. Some days, everyone. Some days, no one.

36. Who was the best new person you met?
The baby! Best new person EVER.

37. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2009.
Life is beautiful.

38. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year.
Don't stop belieeeeeeeeeeeving. Hold on to that feeeeeeeeeeeeeeling.