Friday, February 26, 2010

Some more meals we've had

I have been doing a lot of cooking - a lot of new recipes. I haven't been taking many photos though. Not that that is much of a loss on this blog, most aren't great anyway.

Paxton will be 3 months old on Sunday and this thought delights and shocks me. Shocked because 3 MONTHS! It's gone by at a crawl and in a flash. And just like so many people predicted, I barely remember life before him. He's turned into quite a little personality, a charmer and flirt with anyone who comes into his life, and a bossy little guy for me and Scott, telling us in no uncertain terms when he doesn't whatever injustice we may be subjecting him to, such as a clean outfit, or a new diaper. The nerve of us!

A big lesson I'm still trying to learn is time management. Time didn't really matter BP (before Paxton) - if a dinner recipe was going to take 2 hours to make and dirty most dishes in the kitchen, no big deal. Laundry can be put off for another day. The dishes can sit a while.

Not anymore, unless we want to eat at 9pm (which still sometimes happens) and stay up all night cleaning. I'm trying to choose simpler recipes and also ones that can be prepped or made in advance.

This is something I've been reading about for a long time over at The Cookbook Junkie. Paula is a whiz at choosing recipes that can be made partially or all the way in advance, and reheated when it's time to eat. I'm working on this, using her advice to have a head start on dinners at least a couple of times a week.

A couple of days ago I made Paulas Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs. I'd bought a big pack of thighs and broken them up into groups of 4-5 and frozen them. The day before, I moved a pack from the freezer to fridge, and the morning of, I rubbed the thighs (ooooo!) with the spice mixture and broiled them. This took no time at all and I got it done during one of the baby's catnaps. Then that night all I had to do was mix up the glaze and then toss the thighs back under the broiler for a minute or 2 to reheat before adding the glaze. They were wonderful and super easy. Even if you didn't start these in advance, this is still a fast dinner.


This is a Rachael Ray recipe called Turkey Cordon Bleu Crisp. I made this with some leftover chicken instead of turkey, and some ham I had in the freezer.

It's a savory bread pudding, and there's nothing wrong with that. I liked the flavors of the chicken, ham and swiss cheese. The recipe calls for you to drizzle with maple syrup before you eat, which I meant to do, but forgot. The next morning we had some of the leftovers for breakfast. I didn't think this reheated particularly well; for me it was a one meal recipe. I did remember to add some maple syrup and really liked that.
Turkey Cordon Bleu Crisp.


Another Rachael Ray recipe - Browned Butter Sauce. A very fast pasta sauce. Get your pasta in the water to cook before you make this. All it is is butter, salt, sage, parmesan and cream.

I loved this - similar to the pasta with myzithra I love so much. I used sage I hung up and dried from the garden in the fall, because I didn't want to buy a pack of fresh sage when I only needed 1 teaspoon.
Browned Butter Sauce.


I am a huge Bobby Flay fan, although I have not made many of his recipes. I found this one for vegetable meatloaf in the Food Network Magazine. I made 2 small ones instead of one big one so I could freeze one for later.

I loved this too, in fact I love meatloaf of almost any kind. Turkey meatloaf is not something I've made a lot of, but I will from now on.
Vegetable Meatloaf with Balsamic Glaze


I was sure I'd taken a picture of the Sauerbraten and Spaetzle I'd made, but I can't find any. This was another Food Network Magazine recipe. Sauerbraten is a German dish, like a pot roast. This one is marinated with broth, vinegar, onions, cloves and juniper berries. I couldn't find any juniper berries, but I don't think the dish suffered for it. If you make this, DON'T skip adding the gingersnaps to the sauce at the end. That is what makes it delicious. I had some trouble with the spaetzle, the consistency wasn't right I think, and by the time I had enough for the two of us I was exhausted, the kitchen was a disaster, and I had a couple of nasty steam burns. They were delicious though.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

FNCCC - Melissa D'Arabian

This week for the Food Network Cooking Club Challenge we had our choice from 3 hosts - Mary Nolan, Masaharu Morimoto, and Melissa d'Arabian. I chose Melissa not only because I watched her win the Next Food Network Star show (they showed it on foodtv here in Canada at the end of last year) and I enjoy that many of her recipes are quick and easy. These words have been showing up A LOT on my blog lately. QUICK. EASY.

I love scalloped potatos but have never made them from scratch, I always buy the boxed mixes and we have both been fine with those. I saw Melissa's recipe for 5-Minute Individual Potato Gratins and they appealed to me not only because I love potatos but also I had every single ingredient needed in my kitchen.

These are pretty quick, all you have to do is thinly slice some potatos, chop some green onion and shred some swiss cheese. I didn't bother to measure out the cheese or cream, I don't think you need to.

The gratins were delicious and took no longer to make and bake than scalloped potatos from a package! We will definitely being having these a lot in the future.

5-Minute Individual Potato Gratins
Melissa D'Arabian

Vegetable spray
2 large russet potatoes, roughly peeled and thinly sliced (I used red potatos and didn't peel them)
1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese (I didn't measure, just sprinkled between the potatos and on top)
2 green onions, finely chopped (I used 4)
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
3/4 cup heavy cream (I didn't measure, just poured some on)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Spray 8 muffin tins with vegetable spray. Layer potato slices, cheese, and onions into each muffin cup. Season with salt and pepper and top each gratin with 1 or 2 tablespoons of heavy cream. Cover with foil and bake for 30 to 40 minutes, removing the foil halfway through cooking time. Invert gratins onto plate and serve.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Bread Baking Babes - Ensaïmadas

Yippee! I am happy to say that this month I got my act together and baked the January BBB bread. This months Kitchen Babe is KAREN (not Lynn, sorry Karen!!!) at Bake My Day, and we traveled to Spain to bake Ensaimadas, an inconspicious looking pastry-like bun which will reveal it's little secret once cut (or bitten into)(In the words of Karen).

These delicious little buns take relatively little time to make. The dough is made with milk and eggs, making it a little bit rich.

Once the dough has risen, circles are thinly rolled and spread with pork fat. I didn't have any on hand, so I used butter.

Roll the circles into cylinders

And coil into a little bun. At this point the buns may rise for 1 hour and up to over night. Mine rose just over 1 hour.

Once baked, sprinkle the buns with powdered sugar.

These were very lovely. I really enjoyed them split and toasted, then spread with some homemade strawberry jam I found in the freezer.

Scott spread one with smoked salmon flavored cream cheese instead of butter, and declared it delicious. I wouldn't know, I hate salmon.

Visit Karen's site for the recipe, and please visit all the Babes (listed over to the right) to see their Ensaimadas. If you'd like to join us as a Bread Baking Buddy, you've got until Feb 25 to get your links to Karen.


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

FNCCC - Mario Batali

He was less than enthused when he read the recipe I'd picked from Mario Batali for the FNCCC.

"There's no sauce!"

Scott is an easygoing guy and is normally fine with whatever I want to cook. But he was not happy about this no sauce thing. But I knew he'd love it once he tasted it. He loves onions, he loves cheese. He loves pancetta. It would be ok.

And it was more than ok. This pasta is terrific, absolutely wonderful. I love it because it's simple and delicious. So few ingredients make huge flavors.

I scaled down the recipe - original is here so I would have little, if any leftovers.
But I had to up the amount of onion and garlic because the amounts in the original seemed too small.

Spaghetti with Garlic, Onion and Pancetta

1 tablespoon plus 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
pinch dried chile pepper flakes
100 grams pancetta, diced
1 medium onion, chopped
4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
1/2 pound spaghetti
parmesan cheese

In a pan, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil over high heat. Add the pepper flakes and pancetta and cook until crisp. Remove the pancetta to a plate. Add the remaining oil, onion and garlic and cook gently until golden brown.

Meanwhile bring a large pot of water to a boil and add 2 tablespoons salt. Cook the spaghetti in the boiling water until tender yet al dente. Drain the pasta and add to the saute pan with the onions. Add some cheese, toss to combine, then toss in the pancetta. Serve with extra cheese if desired.

Please visit I Blame My Mother to see more Mario recipes this week.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mushroom and Orzo Risotto

I am surprising myself with how well I am doing with trying new recipes (#13 on my Mighty Life List) weekly. (I've decided this was an odd one to put on my list. When do I cross it off? In a year? Never?)
I got some money for Christmas with the instructions to spend it on myself - not bills, groceries, the baby etc. I waffled for a few minutes, then fired up Amazon and ordered myself some books, including Mark Bittman's Quick and Easy Recipes from The New York Times. I've made 4 dishes so far and they've all been fantastic. Love the book so far.
Last week I planned on making the orzo risotto but I wanted to add to it to make it our main dish. Mushrooms seemed the best way to go.

So I made the orzo risotto, which is super easy. Bring 2 cups of stock (I used chicken) to a boil, then add 1 cup of orzo. Cover and cook over medium low heat for 15 minutes, or until the orzo is cooked through and the liquid is absorbed.
While the orzo was cooking, I sauteed some chopped onion and garlic in a little olive oil, then added a few handfuls of roughly chopped mushrooms. When the mushrooms softened I added a couple of glugs of white wine and seasoned with salt and pepper and cooked until the liquid evaporated.
When the orzo was ready I stirred in a handful of parmesan cheese, then plated the pasta with a big dollop of mushrooms on top, and a little sprinkle of cheese. And look what we had:

This was so good I can't even tell you. And quick! Like less than 20 minutes, if you don't move too slow.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

FNCCC - Jamie Oliver

I know, my last post I talked about eating healthy etc, and here I am with a photo of pancakes and bacon. I can't be blamed though, after a couple of nearly sleepless nights I decided to treat us with pancakes for Sunday breakfast. So really, it's the baby's fault.

But let's blame Sarah at I Blame My Mother as well, for having Jamie Oliver as this weeks Challenge host. I have long wanted to try Jamie's Pancakes USA Stylie. I love pancakes but it's so much easier to use pancake mix from the jumbo bag in the closet than to make them from scratch.

The recipe is pretty quick and easy and the cakes come out very light, as the eggs are separated and the whites beaten until stiff before being folded into the batter. And any recipe that suggests sprinkling bacon on/in a dish is ok with me.

Pancakes USA Stylie
Jamie Oliver

3 large eggs
scant 1 cup all purpose flour
1 heaping tsp baking powder
1/2 cup plus 2 tb milk
a pinch of salt

First separate the eggs, putting the whites into one bowl and the yolks into another. Add the flour, baking powder and milk to the yolks and mix to a smooth thick batter. Whisk the whites with the salt until they form stiff peaks. Fold into the batter – it is now ready to use.

Heat a good non-stick pan on a medium heat. Pour some of your batter into the pan and fry for a couple of minutes until it starts to look golden and firm. At this point sprinkle your chosen flavouring (see below) on to the uncooked side before loosening with a spatula and flipping the pancake over. Continue frying until both sides are golden.

You can make these pancakes large or small, to your liking. You can serve them simply doused in maple syrup and even with some butter or crème fraîche. Or if you choose to sprinkle with a flavouring, try one of these...

fresh corn from the cob
crispy bacon or pancetta
stewed apple
grated chocolate
anything else you can imagine...

Saturday, February 06, 2010

Minestrone Soup

So. I'm trying to pull myself together, nutritionally. We don't eat really horribly, but there's always room for improvement. When the baby was born, I gave myself until January 1 to eat as I wanted, and then I'd get back in the saddle. But then I lost all the pregnancy weight in a ridiculously short amount of time (a combination of nerves and witchcraft, I believe) so I moved the deadline to February 1. I was hoping I'd have a better handle on some kind of schedule, and also hoped against hope my appetite might settle down. Sadly neither of those has happened. Paxton is a generally happy little guy but he has no sort of schedule at all. One day at 6pm he could be asleep and we'll be eating dinner, the next day he's furiously angry and dinner is congealing on the stove, if it got made at all. As for my appetite....let's not discuss that right now.

We have good intentions though, and a fridge full of veggies that are beginning to head south. It was the perfect time to make up a big pot of soup. Use up some veg and have some healthy food in the fridge that I could have for lunch, instead of salt and vinegar chips.

Minestrone Soup

2 tb olive oil
3 carrots, peeled and chopped
1 medium onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
5 cups vegetable broth (or chicken)
1 15oz can fire roasted diced tomatos (or regular if you can't get fire roasted)
1 15 oz can beans (kidney, romano etc) drained and rinsed
1 cup small pasta (I used tubetti)
1/2 tsp dried oregano
2 cups packed spinach, chopped
salt and pepper

Heat the olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add the carrots, onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring occasionally until the veggies are soft, about 10 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 2 more minutes. Add the broth, tomatos, oregano, and beans. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil. Add the pasta and simmer, stirring, until the pasta is cooked, 10 minutes or so. Remove from heat, stir in the spinach. Season with salt and pepper.

This soup will thicken if it sit, so if you make it in advance or have leftovers, no big deal, just stir in some additional broth or water when you reheat.

The best and only photo I have cause guess who was yelling? Hint: not me.