Monday, November 30, 2009
Thursday, November 19, 2009
Hobgoblin of little minds
And a saving grace
Debby's last post resonated at my house, too. My daughter also has influence beyond her wildest imagination — but let's keep that between us.
In our case, it came from stir fry. Being mostly vegetarian, we have a stir fry about once a week, and Anne Elise almost always rolls her eyes and asks for something different. I refuse to be a short-order cook, so "something different" in my kitchen is either a peanut butter sandwich or a bowl of cereal.
This time, however, she looked over the ingredients I was prepping: onion, red and green pepper, broccoli, edamame. They were almost all things she liked, and she realized that it was the way that I cooked them that was a turn-off for her. (The child loves salty things but doesn't like soy sauce in stir fry. Go figure.)
Instead of whining about it, she got creative, suggesting that I keep a portion of each of her chosen ingredients off to the side, spread them over the white rice I had going, top them with a little cheese, and heat it all in the microwave. In other words, she completely deconstructed my intended meal, and rebuilt it to suit her taste.
It was an easy, healthy fix. She was happy. I was happy. And next time she can make it herself!
But for those of you who aren't deconstructionists, here's the full recipe:
Red and Green Stir Fry
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 medium onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 green bell pepper, chopped
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets, cut into small pieces
1 8-oz bag frozen, shelled edamame
1/3 cup seasoned rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon bottled chili sauce
3-4 tablespoons soy sauce (or to taste)
1/2 teaspoon Chinese 5-spice powder
1 tablespoon sesame oil
Heat oil over medium high heat in a wok or large frying pan until hot. (I drop in a piece of chopped onion and wait for it to sizzle.) Add onion and peppers, stirring often, and fry for about 5 minutes or until onion becomes translucent. Add broccoli and edamame and stir for another 2-3 minutes.
Stir in rice wine vinegar, chili sauce, soy sauce, 5-spice powder and sesame oil. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until all vegetables are heated through and coated with seasonings. Serve over white, brown or sushi rice.
Wednesday, November 18, 2009
Monday, November 16, 2009
It's completely versatile
My new role model
Is there anything better in fall than sweet potatoes? I use them for fries, as a pureed side dish, in stir fry, pie, or just baked and split open with cinnamon and butter as a side or a meal.
In addition to being super-nutritious, they taste decadent and sinful. What could be better? (Okay, uninterrupted sleep, free babysitting, a date with Colin Firth - but who's counting?)
I admit that their versatility and overall appeal make me feel a little inferior, especially when you consider that the sweet potato has rougher skin and a more lumpy appearance than I do, yet it's still so delicious, I can't hold a grudge. Heck, in Jackson, Mississippi, my hometown, the sweet potato has even developed a cult following of "Sweet Potato Queens," who show up in the annual St. Patrick's Day parade.
A friend of mine served a dish similar to this several years ago where butternut squash played the leading role. That was very memorable, and since then, I've played with many variations. But since a sweet potato was what I had in my pantry yesterday, this is the result. Even my eight-year-old liked it!
Baked Rigatoni with Sweet Potato and Leeks
l lb. of rigatoni, cooked al dente
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 cups sliced leeks
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 cup dry white wine
1 large sweet potato, cut into 1/2-inch dice
4 cups fresh baby spinach
1 cup shredded Fontina cheese
As you cook the pasta, steam spinach in a basket above boiling water for 2 minutes, or plunge briefly into hot pasta water to blanch. Set aside.
Heat olive oil in large skillet. Add leeks, garlic and sweet potato and saute for 3-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. When leeks begin to brown, deglaze with white wine. Reduce heat and simmer until sweet potatoes are tender.
Combine pasta, sweet potato mixture, spinach and shredded cheese in a large bowl, then spoon into a 9x13 casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes, until cheese is thoroughly melted and pasta is warmed through.
Music awakens hunger.
Even Barney must eat.
I was sharing with a friend one of my favorite youTube videos: Perpetuum Jazzile, a choir from Slovenia, sings Toto's "Africa" a capella; they simulate a storm with their hands and feet, sing a beautiful rendition of the lyrics, and make instruments with their voices -- piano keys, guitar licks, percussion beats, and more.
Friday, November 13, 2009
Cupcakes, canapes, cat naps
That make life a treat.
Debby has been cooking sliders for at least 6 years and never realized it. Her 8-year-old daughter, Eleni, would rather eat a handful of baby burgers than a large juicy one. They have become default dinner when Debby is not in the mood to think about it.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
Tuesday, November 10, 2009
"Mommy," he says, "I love you.
Why are your arms so fat?"
Forget textile art
Aging bodies crave whole grains
That's fiber magic!
Saturday, November 7, 2009
If it's not for fresh eating.
It's pizza topping.
Every Friday night is pizza night at Betsey's house. I'd like to say that I use a time-honored crust recipe that I wheedled away from a little Italian grandmother on a romantic trip to New York — but I confess it's just Jiffy mix from a box.
For the younger family members, toppings are a simple affair. Three-year-old Owen is a straight up, from-the-jar red-sauce and cheese man. Eight-year-old Anne Elise likes the same base, but she throws on a few slices of onion and kalamata olives.
For the grown ups, topping the Friday pizza is always an adventure. See, Friday at my house is the end of the grocery week. What's available for pizza is what's left in the fridge. And while I absolutely agree that spanking fresh ingredients make the best meals, I also know that you can disguise a lot of tired produce with some melted cheese and a super-hot oven. (I also believe that just about any leftover can make a worthy burrito filling - but that's another topic for another day.)
This week, we happened to get lucky. Here's what we ended up with.
3/4 cup thinly sliced leek
1 1/2 cups broccoli florets
white truffle or olive oil
1/3 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1/4 cup shredded fontina cheese
1/4 cup shredded mozzerella
Preheat oven to 425.
Saute leeks in a small amount of olive oil or butter (with a few random onion slices if you have some left from your daughter's pizza) over medium heat until soft and beginning to caramelize. Stir in minced garlic and broccoli florets until thoroughly heated.
Brush truffle oil (or olive oil if you don't have it) onto pizza crust. Spread sauteed mixture evenly over the top. Arrange olives over that.
Sprinkle on feta, fontina and mozzeralla.
Bake until cheese is completely melted and edges of crust begin to brown, about 15 minutes.
Wednesday, November 4, 2009
In my frazzled state,
The can opener beckons
My seductive friend...
I'm using canned soup.
But if I don't confess it
Then is it cheating?
I know my mother relied on it often, anticipating a casserole to die for, but if I decide to start dinner from a can of cream soup, I am being supremely lazy. If I make a casserole, usually every layer is homemade. From scratch – not a can.
But I wanted a creamy pasta casserole for dinner – comfort food. Getting over a cold, I was in the mood for something yummy but I did not have the energy to go all out. So I decided to use a can of soup instead of homemade white sauce in chicken lasagna.
This recipe was just the ticket.
Chicken Basil Lasagna
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can cream of chicken soup
1 (8-ounce) container ricotta cheese
1 roasted red pepper from a jar, drained and cut into strips
2 cups chopped cooked chicken
1/2 cup refrigerated grated Asiago cheese
1/3 cup chopped fresh basil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
6 no-boil lasagna noodles
2 cups (8 ounces) shredded provolone cheese, divided
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix soup and next 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
Layer 2 lasagna noodles on bottom of a lightly greased 9-inch square baking dish; spoon and spread one-third of soup mixture on noodles. Sprinkle with one-third of cheese. Repeat layers three times.
Cover with foil and bake 40 minutes. Uncover and bake until hot and bubbly, about 15 minutes . Let stand 10 minutes before cutting. Makes 4 to 6 servings.
Tuesday, November 3, 2009
Sunday, November 1, 2009
In the Halloween frenzy
I forgot candy!
It's Halloween night.
Goblin hands reach for candy
To start flu season.
Halloween was a blast in our neighborhood. Our good friend Cate pulled out the stops and created a pot-luck spook-fest that was outta this world for kids and grown-ups alike. Being good neighbors, we brought a couple of treats ourselves. Debby went for creative and fun with the Screaming Man. Betsey for gory and fattening Bloody Eyeball Dip. Either way's a winner!
Bloody Eyeball Dip
2 cans refried black beans
1 package taco seasoning mix
1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
1 cup sour cream
Pimento-stuffed Manzanilla or other medium-sized green olives
Thoroughly mix beans and taco seasoning in a bowl. Spread evenly in a 9x13 casserole dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle cheese over bean mixture.
Bake at 350 for 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and beans are heated through.
Push olives into sour cream and beans, with red "pupils" facing up. (Having them "look" in different directions adds an extra creepy factor.)
Drip or drizzle taco sauce over olives and sour cream. (Practice on a few corn chips first if you want to hone the bloody technique.)
Serve warm or at room temperature with corn chips.