Sunday, January 01, 2012

Hello to the New Year

I haven't posted much on this blog. My husband and I had our fist baby in 2011 and I have been focused on the little guy ever since. It seems like I am in a mode of pureeing food for the baby and it's my husband who ends up cooking for the two of us. I am slowly getting back into cooking and I am working toward trying new recipes once again.

We have a little family blog that I post to.  Feel free to check it out.

Last night I made Roast Chicken off of the blog I'll Have What She's Having. It was amazing and so easy! It really made our New Year's Eve special. I go into detail on the family blog, but I'll share some pictures.

Jasper was very curious about the roast, we let him check things out a little bit, but he couldn't get too close.


And the delicious results.


The chicken is seasoned with paprika, one of my favorite spices. It sits on a bed of potatoes, carrots and leeks. Roasting makes just about any vegetable extra good!

Happy New Year to all!


 

Sunday, January 02, 2011

No Resolutions this Year

I've neglected this blog for a while now, but I think have a decent excuse. Jack and I are expecting our first child in mid-March. It's an exciting event that has caused us to make some changes around the house and get our lives a little more organized. Fatigue resulted in less cooking on my part, but I am lucky to have a wonderful husband who has picked up the slack.

Below, you will find one recipe I managed to make this past year...

Jack's cousin Debbi and her boyfriend Todd put a lot of work into hosting Thanksgiving.


I brought out Cranberry Juleps after dessert and enjoyed watching people "relax" as they were consumed.

Christmas Cranberry Juleps

from Good Housekeeping





Ingredients
  • 1 cup(s) water
  • 3/4 cup(s) sugar
  • 2 strip(s) (each 3 inches long) fresh orange peel, removed with vegetable peeler
  • 1 cup(s) fresh cranberries, plus additional for garnish
  • 1 cup(s) Kentucky bourbon
  • 8 sprig(s) fresh mint

Directions

  1. In 2-quart saucepan, heat water, sugar, and orange peel to boiling on high. Add cranberries and cook 2 to 3 minutes or until cranberries pop and split but still hold their shape. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until cold. (Syrup and cranberries can be refrigerated up to one week.)
  2. When ready to serve, strain cranberry syrup through sieve set over 1-quart liquid measure; discard solids. Spear 3 raw cranberries on each of 8 toothpicks. Stir bourbon into syrup.
  3. Fill 8 glasses with crushed ice. Divide bourbon mixture among glasses. Garnish with cranberry spears and mint.

I don't have any pictures of the juleps, but rest assured they looked fancy with the fresh mint sprig. I was told that they were delicious and they are easy to make. Don't let their Christmas theme prevent you from making them this winter.

Here is a picture of our little boy who should be arriving this March.



Happy 2011 everyone!

Sunday, July 04, 2010

Happy 4th of July!

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I have just finished making some sugary strawberry mush and shortcakes for a new-to-me recipe; Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake. We will be visiting our friends Courtney, Andrew, and their daughter for 4th of July grilling and firework watching.

My mom suggested I use a star shaped cookie cutter for the shortcake. I was delighted to find one during a quick trip to a dollar store on Friday. What can I say, sometimes the starts align just for me. (Yuck, yuck, yuck) Brilliant idea mom!

I hope to take some photos tonight of the dessert being eaten. Mmmmm strawberry shortcake says summer to me. Here is the recipe I used:

Old-Fashioned Strawberry Shortcake
Cooking Light, June 1998

Yield:
6 servings

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 cups halved strawberries, divided
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1/3 cup orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons chilled stick margarine or butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • Cooking spray
  • 6 tablespoons frozen reduced-calorie whipped topping, thawed
  • Whole strawberries (optional)

Preparation

Combine 1 cup strawberry halves, 1/3 cup sugar, orange juice, vanilla, and lemon juice in a bowl, and mash with a potato masher. Stir in 2 1/2 cups strawberry halves. Cover and chill.

Preheat oven to 425°.

Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, 3 tablespoons sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; cut in margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Add buttermilk, stirring just until moist (dough will be sticky).

Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 times with floured hands. Pat dough into a 6 x 4-inch rectangle. Cut dough into 6 squares. Place 1 inch apart on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 425° for 12 minutes. Cool on a wire rack.

Split shortcakes in half horizontally using a serrated knife; place each bottom half on a dessert plate. Spoon 1/4 cup strawberry mixture over each bottom half. Top with shortcake tops; spoon 1/4 cup strawberry mixture over each top. Top each serving with 1 tablespoon whipped topping; garnish with whole strawberries, if desired.



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Monday, March 15, 2010

Favorite Spring Things

We experienced a beautiful Saturday last week, the temperatures were comfortable and the sun was shining. Jack actually mowed the lawns! I bopped around in the garden to weed and prune. As I wandered, I collected a few images of spring emerging for your enjoyment:

A group of bleeding hearts are making an appearance in my front yard. My mom and I love these unusual-looking flowers.

This is a trillium just getting started, I think one of Jack's grass clippings landed on a petal.
And I cliped a Camilla bloom for Jack's mom.

I also have a recipe to share. I have been working on reducing the amount of refined sugar that I consume in an effort to live a little healthier. My friend Becky gave me a Cooking Light recipe for granola that I modified. I love to put this on applesauce and yogurt. It's not a perfect replacement for all of the Girl Scout cookies swarming around the office, but it satisfies my cravings for something sweet. Cast of ingredients with granola.


I couldn't find any dried fruit without added sugar, so I used freeze-dried mango which worked well. I'll be sure to make a special trip to Trader Joe's for fruit and nuts for more variety next time. I replaced the honey and sugar with agave nectar. I've just discovered agave nectar, it is thought to have a low glycemic index.

Behold, my applesauce treat in a fancy dish!


I love the books in the background. There was some organizing going on that day; this picture has a bit of a scholarly look as a result.



Power Granola 2 cups regular oats
1/3 cup ground flaxseed
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/3 cup orange juice
1/3 cup honey
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cooking spray
1/3 cup dried cranberries


Preheat oven to 300°.

Combine first 5 ingredients in a medium bowl.

Combine orange juice, honey, and brown sugar in a small saucepan. Cook over medium heat just until sugar dissolves, stirring frequently. Remove from heat; stir in oil and vanilla.

Pour honey mixture over oat mixture, stirring to coat. Spread mixture in a thin layer onto a jelly-roll pan coated with cooking spray. Bake at 300° for 10 minutes; stir well. Bake an additional 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Spoon granola into a bowl; stir in dried cranberries. Cool completely.

Note: Store completely cooled granola in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 weeks.

Yield: About 4 3/4 cups (serving size: about 1/2 cup) CALORIES 196 (31% from fat); FAT 6.8g (sat 0.7g,mono 2.2g,poly 3.3g); IRON 1.5mg; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 38mg; CARBOHYDRATE 32.5g; SODIUM 5mg; PROTEIN 4.1g; FIBER 3.6g Cooking Light, MAY 2005

Thursday, January 28, 2010

The Great Pose-Off of 2009

I have been meaning to write this post for a while.

I took up knitting last March and I've had a wonderful time looking at patterns on Ravelry.com (a knit and crochet community). In June I came across a project by Holli, a fellow member, in which she had altered a hat pattern to fit her husband. I loved it, made it one of my "favorites", and ended up making one for my husband. I also followed Holli's blog and was hooked when I read the s'more cookie post.

I really enjoy seeing what Holli is up to, whether it's cooking or knitting. She is a talented woman!
I commented on a blog post featuring some lovely knitting. She emailed me to thank me and we started a little conversation from there. Holli ended up helping me with a yarn suggestion for the hat and encouraging me along the way. Then came the pictures of Jack modeling the hat for my Ravelry projects page and that's when things took an amusing turn. Holli explains it perfectly in her blog.

In 2010, I hope to do more cooking, reading, and knitting.




Monday, January 18, 2010

Homemade Marshmallows = Mmmmmm!


Our friends Aaron and Anner (short for Andrea), had us over to their home last weekend to teach us how to make marshmallows from scratch. I have been wanting to know about this ever since they brought a s'mores kit with homemade marshmallows and graham crackers to our place last year. We are so lucky that our pals were gracious enough to teach us.

Making marshmallows in not difficult, but there is some timing involved and you have to pay attention to temperature. Here are a few tips we picked up from Anner: as easy as marshmallow making is, it's best to have two people involved in the process. Also, a pizza cutter works great to cut the individual marshmallow squares. I have some pictures of this adventure below. I'll post the Aaron & Anner-approved recipes for marshmallows and graham crackers too. We haven't made the graham crackers yet, but I've eaten them and recommend them. They are made with whole wheat flour which gives them a wonderful texture. Thank you Aaron and Anner!


Anner with a sheet of "demonstration" marshmallows:

Anner helps me cut the "demonstration" marshmallows. We are deep in concentration!

And now Jack and I make our own. Bringing sugar to temperature:
Behold the gooey-ness!
Transferring the gooey-ness:
A treat for one of the cooks:
An artistic marshmallow photo arranged and shot by Jack:
And the recipes:

Homemade Marshmallows Bon App├ętit | July 2008

by Molly Wizenberg

These can be layered between sheets of parchment and stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to two weeks.

ingredients
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 cup cold water, divided
3 1/4-ounce envelopes unflavored gelatin
2 cups sugar
2/3 cup light corn syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup potato starch*
1/2 cup powdered sugar
preparation

Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with foil.

Coat foil lightly with nonstick spray. Pour 1/2 cup cold water into bowl of heavy-duty mixer fitted with whisk attachment. Sprinkle gelatin over water. Let stand until gelatin softens and absorbs water, at least 15 minutes.

Combine 2 cups sugar, corn syrup, salt, and remaining 1/2 cup cold water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over mediumlow heat until sugar dissolves, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush. Attach candy thermometer to side of pan. Increase heat and bring syrup to boil. Boil, without stirring, until syrup reaches 240°F, about 8 minutes.

With mixer running at low speed, slowly pour hot syrup into gelatin mixture in thin stream down side of bowl (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk, as it may splash). Gradually increase speed to high and beat until mixture is very thick and stiff, about 15 minutes. Add vanilla and beat to blend, about 30 seconds longer.

Scrape marshmallow mixture into prepared pan. Smooth top with wet spatula. Let stand uncovered at room temperature until firm, about 4 hours.

Stir potato starch and powdered sugar in small bowl to blend. Sift generous dusting of starch-sugar mixture onto work surface, forming rectangle slightly larger than 13x9 inches. Turn marshmallow slab out onto starch-sugar mixture; peel off foil. Sift more starch-sugar mixture over marshmallow slab. Coat large sharp knife (or cookie cutters) with nonstick spray. Cut marshmallows into squares or other shapes. Toss each in remaining starch-sugar mixture to coat. Transfer marshmallows to rack, shaking off excess mixture.

*A food thickener made from cooked, dried, ground potatoes, this gluten free flour is also known as potato flour; available at most supermarkets.

And now for the graham crackers:


Homemade Graham Crackers
Homemade Graham Crackers

Homemade Graham Crackers

Once you taste one of these sweet whole wheat crackers, you may never go back to the store-bought variety again. Use them as the base for homemade s'mores, sandwich them with peanut butter, or simply enjoy them on their own.

Ingredients

Makes 20.

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for working
  • 1 cup whole-wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup untoasted wheat germ
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons high-quality honey

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk flours, wheat germ, salt, baking soda, and cinnamon in a medium bowl; set aside.
  2. Put butter, brown sugar, and honey into the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment; mix on medium speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add the flour mixture, and mix until combined.
  3. Turn out dough onto a floured surface, and divide into quarters. Roll out each piece between 2 sheets of floured parchment paper into rectangles a bit larger than 9 by 6 inches, about 1/8 inch thick.
  4. Using a fluted pastry wheel, trip the outermost edges or each rectangle, and divide into three 6 by 3-inch rectangles. Pressing lightly, so as not to cut all the way through, score each piece in half lengthwise and crosswise, to form four 3 by 1 1/2-inch crackers. Stack parchment and dough on a baking sheet and chill in freezer until firm, about 20 minutes.
  5. Remove two sheets of dough from freezer. Pierce crackers using the tines of a fork. Transfer to large baking sheets lined with parchment paper. Bake, rotating halfway through, until dark golden brown, 8 to 9 minutes. Repeat with remaining dough. Let cool on sheet 5 minutes; transfer crackers to wire racks to cool completely.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Christmas Recap

Jack and I had a wonderful Christmas in Seattle. Jack's sister and mother joined us for dinner and gifts. I prepared a standing rib roast and Jack made a pumpkin tart. I love being married to a man who takes on baking--baking a tart no less. Here are some highlights:

Jack's tart is Vanilla-Bourbon Pumpkin Tart from Cooking Light. I think he was particularly inspired to make this because of the bourbon. Nothing mans up a tart like bourbon! It was very tasty, click here for the recipe.

My Standing Rib Roast turned out well. Roasting is really an easy way to feed a crowd. I based my roast on Paula Dean's recipe: "Foolproof Standing Rib Roast". I had a smaller roast, so I adjusted the roasting time. I learned that, depending on preferred doneness, a rib roast should be in the oven 22 to 25 minutes per pound. And now for some present pictures:


Karen and her new "Hot Firefighter" potholder. I think he can handle her hot dishes.


Annabelle took care of her squeaker toy gift right away. I hope you and yours had a wonderful Christmas! In the spirit of the season, I have a link to a post on one of my favorite blogs; Mochimochi. Here are some little random acts of kindness - enjoy!