June, 2004


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Zucchini Sesame Soup
Jun 30th, 2004

Thanks Hetal! See, just one tiny bit of encouragement is all the pretext I need to keep flooding you all with my food-related ramblings. Be warned!

The best thing I've made recently was yet another recipe stolen from Clotilde's blog (Chocolate and Zucchini). Seriously, she's going to start thinking I'm stalking her. But really, it's just a fabulous blog and I recently read through all her archives and printed out recipes that looked particularly good and fit into my current 'cheap food that's not awash in butter' mandate.

So Zucchini Sesame soup. It's an easy, tasty, summer dish. It's great served with sesame crackers, cut up veggies, cheese, and fruit. I also made a white bean nut butter dip to go with the veggies, but wasn't thrilled with the outcome. It combined a can of white beans with tahini, peanut butter, sun dried tomatoes, and some spices. You would think that the p. butter would be weird in the recipe, but it wasn't. The spices were though - it called for Worcestershire and that combo didn't work for me. I will probably try the white bean and tahini combination again though.

My favorite white bean dip is: a can of white beans (cannelini or large white beans) drained and rinsed, olive oil, fresh rosemary, garlic, lemon juice, and salt to taste. Throw it all in a blender or food processor. This can be served as a dip or as a pasta sauce (some cooked cauliflower tossed with the pasta and white bean sauce is especially yummy). If serving over pasta, mix the dip with a tablespoon or so of the cooking water to thin it.

So, without further ado, the recipe for Soupe de Courgette au Sesame (Zucchini Sesame Soup).

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Leek and Ricotta Frittata
Jun 22nd, 2004

It has been in the 80s here in Seattle for about a week, and yesterday was the hottest yet. So dinner last night needed to be something light and easy. I had put this Leek and Ricotta Fritatta recipe on my list of dishes for the week, and it fit the bill perfectly. I got the recipe from the wonderful cooking blog Chocolate and Zucchini - the same place I lifted the Raspberry Yogurt Cake recipe from. Its not really a true fritatta, as it is baked totally in the oven rather than starting off on the stovetop, but it has me questioning why you would ever want to do things the traditional way when this way is so nice and easy and has such great results. We ate it with toasted white bread left over from the Father's Day chicken clubs, a green salad with a really garlicky mustard vinaigrette, and cherries. It would be really nice with a good white wine as well.

Leek and Ricotta Fritatta

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Still here
Jun 22nd, 2004

Well, I've decided to get over the fact that my friends are making fun of me and soldier on. I've thought of starting my own cooking blog rather than overwhelming this site, but there are so many cooking blogs out there already. And really, what would be my angle? Busy mom cooks food her kids won't eat? I don't know, somehow it doesn't really reach out and grab you. So I guess I'll continue here for now, until I get too embarrassed or find an alternate venue.

I did do some cooking over the weekend. Saturday evening my friend Larissa came over with her daughter, Alina, who is a good buddy of Jay's. We had a nice relaxed picnic style meal of good bread, spreads, and avocados that she brought, some broiled soy-lime marinated tuna, and green salad that I made, and some yummy summer mangos, cherries, and blueberries. With a few beers and the kids playing out back in the last rays of the sun, life just doesn't get better than that. Well, actually the gourmet chocolates that Larissa brought (I tasted one scented with Earl Gray tea, and another that tasted of fresh mint right out of the garden) did manage to make life just the tiniest bit better!

On Father's Day I made Jim his favorite breakfast, which is prepared as follows: Walk to the Red Apple market and buy donuts - get maple, sugar, and chocolate kinds. Let Jim sleep in until at least 10:00. Arrange donuts attractively on a plate while he makes his usual latte. Serve.

It never fails.

My parents came up for the day, but my mom hasn't been feeling all too well, so we had a nice big lunch instead of a dinner so they could get home early. Jim requested chicken club sandwiches, so that's what we had, with an avocado aioli and a big salad for the Atkins-ites who wouldn't do the bread part. For dessert, vanilla icecream and strawberries from my dad's garden. It was all good.

Along with the strawberries, my parents brought along the biggest cabbage known to humankind. I don't really want to know what my dad is putting on his garden to achieve these mutant vegetables, but I literally had to use all my body weight to wedge that dang thing into our fridge. I'm not sure it's ever coming out again, but if it does, a veritable mountain of slaw will ensue. If you don't hear from us again, it's because we have been buried under a metric ton of shredded cabbage.

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At long last - Double Mango Oatmeal
Jun 17th, 2004

Well I managed to turn this very simple dish (basically oatmeal with mango, durrr....) into quite the process. First there was the homemade oat milk, which actually turned out quite nicely, although in the future I think I'll tweak the ratio and add more water per cup of oats, it was a little thick. The thickness actually worked for this recipe though, because it made the oatmeal nice and thick which I love.

Second there was the toasting of the oats and walnuts (I used pecans) the night before. The recipe calls for laying the oats out in a single layer on a jellyroll pan (which caused me much confusion before realizing that a jellyroll pan is just a cookie sheet), and toasting in the oven for 6 to 8 minutes. Mine burned to a crisp in about 5. So back to the drawing board on that. Threw out the burned oats, wiped off the pan, put down another layer and hovered over the oven like it might explode at any minute, checking and shaking the pan at approximately 5 second intervals. I would recommend anyone who tries this recipe pick a method somewhere in between the two extremes.

Anyway, this morning I had everything ready to whip up a batch of the oatmeal, and Ian and I enjoyed it thoroughly. It's sweet, but not cloyingly so, nutty and creamy and chewey, and tastes very very decadent, even though it's really just a big bowl of oats.

Toasted Oatmeal with Double Mango and Toasted Walnuts
I suggest halving the recipe

3 cups old-fashioned oats, uncooked
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts (I used pecans, yummy)
4 cups skim milk or fat-free soy milk (or home made oat milk!)
½ cup diced dried mango
¼ tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
1 large ripe fresh mango, diced (2 cups)

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spread oats in a single layer on a jelly-roll pan. Toast oats and nuts on the stovetop until lightly toasted, shaking the pan often.

Combine milk, dried mango, salt, and nutmeg in a medium saucepan; bring just to a simmer over high heat. Reduce heat to low; add toasted oats. Simmer 5 to 8 minutes or until thickened, stirring only once or twice. Transfer to serving bowls; top with fresh mango and toasted nuts. Serve with additional milk, if desired.

*Dried strawberries or golden raisins may replace dried mango; 2 cups sliced strawberries may replace fresh mango.

-Michael F. Roizen, Cooking the Real Age Way
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Southwestern Sunrise
Jun 17th, 2004

Last night we had eggs made in cute little ramekins. Have I mentioned how much I love my ramekins? I've never had ramekins before, and would always have to sadly flip past any recipe that called for baking something cute and tasty in its own individual little dish. But now I am ramekin empowered, which gives me hope that some day I may aquire other cooking implements that now seem so foreign (bundt cake pan anyone?) and the whole wide world of recipe possibilities will be mine.

Anyway, the recipe for Southwestern Sunrise eggs really could not be simpler.

Southwestern Sunrise

(no ingredient list)

Melt a teaspoon of unsalted butter in each 8 ounce ramekin in a 400 degree oven (I used salt equipped Smart Balance and omitted the salt in later steps). In the bottom of each ramekin put a half of a roasted red pepper and a quarter of an avocado, diced. Carefully crack an egg over the pepper and avocado, salt and pepper to taste,
and sprinkle about a tablespoon of grated cheese on top. The recipe I was working from recommends Monterey Jack, I used half Manchego and half Cheddar.

Put the ramekins back in the 400 degree oven and cook until the eggs are done to your liking. If you like a hard yolk they will take a while, I'll admit I cheated and popped them in the microwave for about a minute at the end because everything else was done and too runny egg yolks squick me out. Serve sprinkled with sour cream, chives, green onion, cilantro, guacamole, salsa, whatever strikes your fancy. We ate ours with spicy black beans, salsa, guacamole, corn tortillas, and a green salad.

-Eeek, I can't remember where this comes from. The USA Cookbook?
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Curried Cider-Braised Pork Chops
Jun 16th, 2004

I got the recipe for last night's dinner from Epicurious. Katie, I've been meaning to mention, if you haven't checked their web site out as a source of recipes, you should. They have recipes from many sources including back issues of Bon Appetit and Gourmet in their database. They have a handy recipe box feature where you can save recipes that look intriguing. I signed up for their weekly recipe email a year or so ago, and there is usually at least one recipe worth putting in the old recipe box.

So the recipe at hand is for pork chops simmered in apple cider with curry spices. It's simple and easy, and while not a total knock-your-socks off recipe, it is tasty. Jim especially liked it. I served it with egg noodles and sauteed vegetables, but I think the veggies were all wrong. It would be good with something like acorn squash, sweet potatoes, cabbage, or cauliflower. The sauce was also a bit sweet for me - I added a splash of balsamic vinegar and some salt at the end which improved things. Next time I might try cutting down the amount of apple cider and replacing it with dry white wine or broth. I also added some peeled and chopped apple to the onion/celery mixture.

I'm making progress on the double mango oatmeal. I wanted to use oat milk instead of cow's milk in the recipe, but none of the stores that usually carry it seem to have any right now. So I decided to make my own. I found some recipes online, it's super simple and I made some this morning while getting everybody ready for school/work/etc.

Combine 1 cup old-fashioned (not quick cooking or instant) rolled oats with 5 cups water in a heavy bottomed pot with a teaspoon of vanilla. Bring to a boil, then cover and simmer for an hour. After an hour I stuck it in the blender and blended till smooth. Chill and store in the fridge. I'm going to use it for the oatmeal recipe, and I think it would be great in smoothies and over cereal. I'll let you know how it turns out.

Curried Cider-Braised Pork Chops
Makes 2 servings (can be doubled)

1 1/2 tablespoons butter (I used Smart Balance & olive oil)
4 thin boneless pork chops or 2 thick bone-in pork chops
2 cups chopped onions
1 large celery stalk, chopped
1 bay leaf
1 tablespoon curry powder
1 1/2 cups apple cider

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle pork with salt and pepper. Add pork to skillet and sauté until brown, about 3 minutes per side. Using tongs, transfer pork to plate.

Add onions, celery and bay leaf to skillet. Sauté until onions are golden, about 6 minutes. Mix in curry powder. Add cider and boil until sauce is slightly reduced, about 6 minutes. Return pork and any accumulated juices to skillet. Simmer just until cooked through, about 3 minutes for boneless chops and 5 minutes for bone-in chops. Season with salt and pepper.

-Bon Appétit
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Green Salad w/ Shrimp and Quesadillas
Jun 15th, 2004

We're attempting to cut down on the money we spend on groceries each week, so this weekend I picked out the weeks' dinner recipes in advance based on ingredients we already had in the pantry or the freezer. That way all I had to pick up at the store were our staple foods and fruit and veggies from the produce market. Since we had some shrimp in the freezer and some Manchego cheese in the fridge, my eye was caught by a recipe for shrimp quesadillas, but I knew Jim and the boys would find that too freaky. So I decided to make regular old quesadillas with shrimp and a green salad on the side. Somehow the shrimp ended up hopping onto the salad, and it became a seafood salad.

Manchego cheese is a Mexican cheese that is good for melting, therefore you would think the perfect quesadilla cheese. I've been experimenting with Mexican cheeses lately, and so far my favorite is Queso Cotija - a crumbly white cheese that is similar to feta but not quite as pungent. Great for sprinkling on top of beans, either black or refried. Anyway, the Manchego turned out well, although a little bland I think. For quesadillas, it would probably be best mixed with a slightly sharper cheese - maybe Monterey Jack. I don't do flour tortillas (because of the hydrogenated oil and the white flour) but the rest of the family does, so I made a small quesadilla for me using corn tortillas. I see why no-one really uses corn tortillas for this, they get pretty hard and crispy. I wonder if there might be a way to sort of steam them - maybe cooked in the oven wrapped in foil.

For the shrimp salad I sauteed the shrimp in some garlic, olive oil, and paprika. Then I squeezed a bit of lime on top after pulling them off the heat. Made up a salad with a wild greens mix, chopped red peppers, green onions, and radish. I wanted a creamy dressing for this, which is something I don't normally make. Usually I stick to vinaigrettes, so I don't really have a creamy dressing down. I need to find one that I like that's fairly healthy and add it to my weeknight repertoire. So I sort of cobbled something together with some plain fat-free yogurt, the dregs of a bottle of Bernsteins's light Cheese Fantastic, some garlic red wine vinegar, onion powder, and just a tsp or so of a commercial blue cheese dressing we had in the fridge. I don't like blue cheese dressing normally, but adding just a little gave it that slight cheesey taste that goes so well with the shrimp. So, tossed the salad with the dressing, threw the shrimp and some diced avocado on top, and voila! I ate probably three quarters of the salad myself, as the boys in the family mainly stuck to the cheese. They're fans of cheese. I'm a fan of shrimp. It all works out.

Had mango again for dessert and realized some mango would probably have been good in the salad as well. Next time. Now I need to stop mainlining those mangos long enough to make this double mango (both fresh and dry) roasted oatmeal recipe I've been eyeing for a while. I bought lots this week, so it just might happen.

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Curry Update
Jun 14th, 2004

So last night I did make a coconut milk curry to go over our special red mountain rice, and it came out yummy. The only problem is I made curry to go with the leftover rice, but ate up all the rice and now have leftover curry, for which I'll have to make more rice which will probably create more leftovers. Will the vicious cycle never end?

So the recipe was nothing special, just followed the directions on the back of the curry paste jar! The only thing I did differently was to cook the meat before tossing it in the curry. Sauteed some thinly sliced pork with a spoonfull of green curry paste and some garlic. Then put the meat aside while I simmered another spoonfull of curry paste with a can of coconut milk. A big handful of basil, 3 tbsps fish sauce, 1/3 cup of stock (calls for chicken but I used roasted veggie) and 2 tbsps brown sugar was added, and then I threw the meat back in along with some green beans, trimmed broccoli stems, and baby corns. You can make this with any combination of protein and vegetables you want. Simmered it for ten minutes or so and topped with chopped cilantro and basil.

Whenever I make a coconut milk curry it tastes so good and comes together so quickly I wonder why I don't make them more often. Then I look at the calories on the side of the 'Light' coconut milk can and remember why. Yikes. Next time I think I'll try adding less coconut milk. I can add a bit more broth to compensate, but I think there could be less liquid overall without affecting the taste. The curry amount might need to be dropped a bit too, as the coconut milk cuts the spicyness. I'll have to experiment.

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Gateau au Yaourt a la Framboise
Jun 14th, 2004

It sounds fancy, it's French, it tastes yummy, but despite initial appearances it's super easy. So Gateau au Yaourt a la Framboise is of course Raspberry Yogurt Cake. This recipe, which I found online at Clotilde's blog Chocolate & Zucchini, is apparently a variation of the basic Yogurt Cake recipe, with the addition of ground almonds and raspberries. The cool thing about it is that you measure things using an empty 4 ounce pot de yaourt (tub of yogurt) which is fun and different and very kid friendly. I made this recipe with Jay and he had a blast and was able to take part in most of it. The other cool thing is that it gives you an excuse to buy some European style yogurt (like Mountain High European cream style, yummmmm.....) that comes in the cute little 4 ounce size, instead of the gargantuan 8 ounce American size. Of course you could use the 8 ouncer and double the recipe, but since I had trouble restricting myself to eating only half the cake yesterday, that might not be a good idea unless you have ravenous coworkers upon whom you can foist the second cake.

The basic recipe (minus the ground almonds and raspberries) can be varied in all sorts of ways. Clotilde suggests adding citrus juice, zest, or peel for a lemon or orange cake, adding chocolate chips or nuts to the batter, slicing the baked cake in two and spreading a layer of jam in the middle, or frosting it with chocolate frosting.

The cake is light and not too sweet, more like a quick bread in texture really than a heavy birthday cake. A good summer dessert or late afternoon snack if you're feeling decadent. Gateau au Yaourt a la Framboise.

Mine finished in 50 minutes, with no need for foil, and after the ten minutes rest came right out of the pan with no problems. Looked purty too.

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Split Pea Soup
Jun 13th, 2004

I've never really been a huge split pea soup fan, but for some reason this recipe looked good, maybe because I had everything for it in the cupboard! Anyway, it turned out really very good. Jim liked it, I liked it, Ian liked it. Jay wouldn't try the 'Swamp Soup' of course, although he was mildly interested to think it might have been made with real swamp bugs.

We ate it with some red rice from 'high in the mountains of the Himalayas' (Bhutan), which was nutty and pretty bland just cooked up plain. But it reminded me a lot of the rice that people ate outside the cities in Thailand. In the city they eat jasmine rice, but up in the mountains and in other rural areas they eat a whole grain rice that tastes really yummy with coconut milk based curries. So I think I'll try a curry tonight over the leftover rice. We also had red cabbage with a cumin vinaigrette. Cabbage is great for the end of the week when you've eaten all the veggies in your fridge, but there's still that half head of cabbage in the back from who knows when. The stuff keeps for ever.

Split Pea Soup with Cumin

1 tsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, very thinly sliced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
1 pound split peas
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp crushed red pepper
3 cups water
Juice of 2 limes (I used less, probably 1 ½ limes)
½ cup plain low-fat yogurt
¼ cup loosely packed, coarsely chopped fresh cilantro

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking. Add onion, garlic, and ¼ cup broth. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook, covered, stirring often, until onion is very soft, 10 to 12 minutes. Add carrot and cook for 5 minutes, or until just starting to soften.

Add split peas, cumin, crushed red pepper, remaining 2 ¾ cups broth, and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook until peas are cooked through and softened, about 35 minutes. Turn off heat and stir in lime juice. Garnish each bowl with a dollop of yogurt and a sprinkle of cilantro and serve.

-Kathleen Daelemans, Getting Thin and Loving Food
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Corn Cakes
Jun 10th, 2004

Dinner last night turned out to be nothing special. I got home to Jim talking wistfully about how we had some sausage in the freezer and some potatoes in the fridge. I think sometimes he misses the good old days of eating crap all the time. So we compromised and had spinach ravioli over greens topped with red pepper, summer squash, and sausage. Much basil was scattered about. Ian scarfed up the little sausage coins as fast as he could and then spent the rest of the evening torturing us with baby farts. Jay took one bite of a ravioli and then spent five minutes spitting it out and making horrified faces, before he regained his delicate constitution long enough to eat a few bites of left over ramen.

Therefore, percent of semi-nutritious meal eaten by Jay: .00001% (some ravioli may accidentally have been ingested)

The Corn Cakes recipe (requested in comments on previous post) follows. It's from a daffy cookbook/nutrition tome called Cooking the Real Age Way by Michael Roizen, M.D. and John La Puma, M.D. This book wraps up some fairly sound nutrition concepts into this weird 'Real Age' wrapper where they figure out how many days longer you'll live if you eat a certain recipe twelve times a year. Eat Canola Double Corn Cakes once a month and live 3.3 days longer. Woo hoo! Anyway, I checked it out from the library and ended up copying about 8 recipes out of it before returning it, so even though a lot of the recipes were just stupid (unless you really don't have any clue how to cook) there were some good ones. Like the following:

Canola Double Corn Cakes

1 tsp butter (I used Smart Balance)
1 tsp canola oil
1/4 cup minced red bell pepper
2 cups corn kernels (I used frozen)
1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions or scallions
1/2 cup cornmeal
1/2 cup unbleached whole wheat flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
2 large eggs (I used 3 egg whites which is 1/2 cup prepared egg whites)
1 cup 1% buttermilk (didn't have any so added a tbsp of lemon juice to a cup of milk and let sit for five minutes)
Cooking spray

Melt butter in a small skillet. Add the canola oil, bell pepper, and corn and saute over medium heat for approximately 5 minutes. Remove from heat, stir in green onions, and set aside.

Combine cornmeal, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Make a well in the center. Combine eggs and buttermilk and beat until frothy. Pour this mixture and the corn mixture into the well in the center of the dry ingredients, stirring briefly until everything is combined. Do not overmix. (Don't be surprised at how thin the batter is, it's okay).

Coat a griddle or two skillets (I used one but two would have gone faster as this makes about a zillion cakes) with cooking oil spray. (They don't say what heat setting to use, I used the same I use for pancakes, start at just a tinge above medium and then turn down to medium as the skillet heats up) Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour a scant 1/4 cup of batter for each corn cake. Cook the corn cakes for approximately 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Serve hot, topped with a few cilantro leaves or a dollop of guacamole, if desired.

I like to serve these with Black Bean Avocado Salsa (not from the New Age Way cookbook obviously):

drained & rinsed canned black beans
chopped tomatoes
chopped mild onions or green onions
minced garlic
chopped jalapenos or pour in some remnants of jarred salsa you have lying around
a squeeze of lime
chopped cilantro
diced avocado
pinch of salt (optional)

Combine all ingredients except avocado. Taste and adjust seasonings. Add the diced avocado just before serving.

-Cooking the New Age Way
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Jun 8th, 2004

So I didn't end up making a spring stew with the produce from the Farmer's Market. I saw some nice asparagus while doing my weekly (hah!) shopping at the grocery store and decided to make mushroom and asparagus risotto instead. I've never made risotto before, and frankly have never been overly fond of it, but risotto discussions seem to have been popping up in foodie circles all over the web lately, so I decided to give it a try.

I soaked half of my porcini mushrooms in boiling water for 20 or 30 minutes while I sliced a pound or so of crimini mushrooms, chopped the asparagus into half inch pieces, and minced up some of the spring onions and fresh garlic from the market.

When the porcinis were reconstituted I pulled them out, squeezed them dry, chopped them and added them to the criminis which were sauteeing away on the stove. I put about five cups of stock on to boil - I used a combination of chicken and mushroom (both by Pacific Foods) to which I eventually added a couple scoopfulls of the porcini soaking water.

Sauteed the onion and garlic in 2 tbsps or so of olive oil and Smart Balance (butter substitute that uses non-hydrogenated oils) and added a cup and a half of Arborio rice. Stirred the rice around until it was coated with the oil and then poured somewhere around a half a cup of dry Vermouth over the rice and stirred it around until it was absorbed. Then I started the risotto process of adding a ladle at a time of hot broth to the rice and stirring it around until it was absorbed into the rice before adding another one. That probably took 20 or 25 minutes I'm guessing. Somewhere in there I boiled some water and poured it over the asparagus pieces to blanch them, and corralled Jim in to grating some parmesan for me. Jay is usually my cheese grater of choice, but he was too busy playing something or other to be bothered. About five or ten minutes before the end I added the mushrooms and asparagus to the rice goo. When the rice was tender and gooey but still had a very slight crunch to the middle of it, I pulled it off the heat and let it sit for two minutes with the lid on. I saw that tip somewhere, but I'm not sure I would do it again, it seemed to make things cross the line a bit between creamy and gummy. Before serving I stirred in the parmesan cheese and fried up some pork chops.

It was alright. I think the bottom line is that neither Jim nor I like risotto all that much. It's just so rich! I think if I made it again I wouldn't add the cheese, it just didn't need it. And I might go in a different direction - say shrimp and asparagus, or shrimp and green peas, something a little crisper and lighter tasting. Although that seems directly contradictory to the aim of risotto which is to be rich and creamy, so maybe I'll just have to accept defeat and find something else to do with the remaining half pound of Arborio rice I have left. Rice pudding anyone?

Percent of semi-nutritious meal consumed by Jay: 10%. He ate a few bites of pork chop and then whined about wanting chicken noodle soup for the rest of the meal. I think he ended up eating a peanut butter and honey sandwich at 9:00 for his 'night snack'.

Tonight I'm thinking Mexican. Corn cakes with a black bean salsa and maybe some chicken, since that's all Jay and Ian will eat anyway. We'll see.

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I Can't Stop!
Jun 4th, 2004

Alright, I know I know I need to shut up, but you have no idea how good it feels to get some of these things written down and out of my head so I can stop obsessing about them!

Anyway, for dinner Wednesday night I made a sort of deconstructed version of a recipe from Kathleen Daelemans' Getting Thin and Loving Food. The original recipe was for a white curry soup with minted turkey meatballs and saffron rice. The recipe was really good but it would take too long for a weekday dinner and Jim wanted the meatballs.

So I made the meatballs (ground turkey, egg, ground ginger, garlic, chopped shallots, and a cup of chopped fresh mint) and boiled them in water. Then I turned the soup into a sauce, so I sauteed more shallots and garlic with fresh ginger and my own curry powder (cardamom, cumin, ground coriander, dry mustard, and a little bit of cayenne) adding some chicken broth after a few minutes. Then I took it off the heat and added plain fat-free yogurt until it was the desired consistency.

I served the meatballs with egg noodles, steamed cauliflower, and the white curry sauce over top. It was good, but boiling the meatballs in water made them blander than I would like. In the original recipe the meatballs are cooked in the soup so they soak up the curry spices and broth. I think I would like to try this again but cook the meatballs in a skillet with just enough chicken broth to cover. Add cardamom seeds, whole bruised garlic cloves, and unpeeled slices of ginger to broth, bring to a boil and simmer while I'm preparing the meatballs to get a bit of the spicy flavor, then add the meatballs to the broth in the skillet. I would also like to try adding some fat free or low fat evaporated milk to the curry sauce to make it a bit more creamy.

Whew, now maybe I can stop thinking about that stupid recipe! More brain space is definitely a good thing.

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Jun 4th, 2004

That salmon recipe looks good Katie, nice and spicy! Glad to see everyone here.

I'll probably be using this space to note down recipes that I came up with myself that I want to remember or things that I want to remind myself to try again with revisions. I tend to make a new recipe, think "ummm that was good" (hopefully) and then move on and never make it again. Variety is good but I would like to increase my repertoire of dishes I can cook for a weekday dinner without even thinking.

So last night I stopped at the Farmer's Market on my way home (and no Hetal I don't think I go food shopping every single day, but some weeks it feels like it) and got some spring green salad mix, new baby carrots, spring onions, green garlic (both spring onions and green garlic are the fresh young versions where the bulb hasn't fully developed yet and the taste is pretty mild), dried porcini mushrooms, strawberries, and cherries. Now that I'm thinking about it, the carrots, onions, garlic, and mushrooms seem like they're calling out for some sort of spring stew.

Anyway, for dinner I covered the bottom of a wide shallow pasta serving dish with the spring greens. Then I sauteed some red and yellow bell peppers with yellow crookneck squash and cooked up some tortellini and added those to the vegetables. I made a dressing with walnut oil, olive oil, a few garlic cloves, stone ground mustard, fresh thyme, red wine vinegar, and a squeeze of lemon. I tossed the tortellini and veggies with most of the dressing and then mixed in some toasted pine nuts. I added the rest of the dressing to the greens, mounded the tortellini salad on top, sprinkled with basil and paremesan and served. We also had strawberries and cherries. It was good, easy, and Jim liked it so I'm noting it here so I can remember to make it again. Might also be good with shrimp instead of the tortellini. I added kalamata olives and capers to mine - Jim hates those so I left them off the main plate.

Percent eaten by Jay: 00%. The tortellini were too scary for him. So he had strawberries & cherries for dinner.

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Main Dish
Jun 2nd, 2004

As tempting as Priya's culinary concoction sounds, I ended up going with an old stand-by: blueberry muffins. In honor of our healthy muffin discussion, I picked a recipe that I found in a compilation of recipes from Cooking Light magazine. The recipe used very little sugar, no butter (2 tbsps of canola oil instead), and vanilla yogurt as a moistener and sweetener. A little sugar is then sprinkled on top before baking.

The results were, well mixed I guess you could say. The first problem was that the batter ended up really thick, more like paste than the usual thin muffin batter I'm used to. The second problem was that I let my frozen blueberries sit out before folding them in, as I was attempting to cook dinner at the same time, so they got all defrosted and juicy. The combination of the thick batter and messy juicy berries meant there was no way to avoid the blueberry juice seeping into the batter and turning it that oh so attractive shade of greenish blue. The sprinkling of sugar caused the tops to turn a pretty dark golden color. So I ended up with golden topped, green swirled blueberry muffins. The taste was okay, the vanilla yogurt (and additional teaspoon of good quality vanilla extract) added a nice vanilla flavor, but the texture had that spongeyness too it that so many 'lite' recipes do.

I think I will continue searching for a good healthy blueberry muffin recipe. I'll let you know how that turns out. Oh, and here is a tip for preventing your blueberry batter from turning blue/green. It wasn't enough to save me this time, but if you are using fresh berries, or still frozen ones, toss them with a bit of flour before folding them into the batter. It is supposed to prevent any juice from leaking out.

Percent of recipe eaten by Jay: 80%. After protesting that he doesn't like things in his muffins (apparently chocolate chips are acceptable but berries are suspect), he happily chomped down the outside of the muffin, leaving the inner core of the muffin on his plate (too smushy) to be happily scooped up and consumed by our resident low lying scrap trawler - Ian.

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Michael's Nutrition Tips & Early Morning Potlucks
Jun 1st, 2004

I don't know whether to laugh or cry. Somehow I'm guessing Michael will not be first in line for McD's new Healthy Meals or whatever the hell they're called - with the salad and the pedometer. On that subject, it never fails to amaze me that the American public continues to believe (apparently) that adding more iceberg lettuce with ranch dressing to their diet is a healthy thing.

Oh and Michael, do keep us updated on your progress with the melted cheese thingy.

Tomorrow is Jay's last-day-of-preschool, all singing, all dancing, parents-with-videocameras extravaganza. We're supposed to be there at 9:30 am, and as far as I know the sole content of the entertainment is going to be 15 four year olds singing Mr. Golden Sunshine. So this just cannot take very long. Yet we're supposed to bring a main dish for a potluck to be held after the entertainment.

Which begs the question, what kind of 'main dish' does one prepare to be consumed at 10:00 in the morning? Suggestions welcomed.

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