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October 15, 2014

Red Quinoa Tabbouleh - or something kind of close...

Cheaters Chicken Pad Thai



Called Cheaters because it's not really authentic, but it's easy, uses things easily found in my kitchen, and hit the spot. My husband isn't a huge fan of pad thai but he really liked this version (probably because the local place that makes it isn't very good and he never really ate it before we met.)

1 box (14 oz) pad thai noodles

2 Tbsp peanut oil (you can sub whatever you have)
3 eggs, lightly beaten
1 lb chicken breasts, sliced thin

Pad Thai sauce (recipe follows)

4 green onions, thinly sliced
1 cup bean sprouts

1/2 cup peanuts chopped (I smashed mine in a baggie since chopping tends to leave peanuts all over my floor)
1/2 cup chopped cilantro (more or less to taste)
1 lime, cut into wedges

Pad Thai Sauce:
6 Tbsp soy sauce
2 Tbsp sriracha (we added a lot more tableside but this was the perfect amount of spice for the kids)
4 Tbsp lime juice
2 Tbsp oil
4 Tbsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp fish sauce
(note that this is a starting point and you can add more of any of the ingredients to get the hot/sour/salty/sweet combo that most appeals to you)

1. Bring 6 cups water to a boil. Add noodles and let soak 8-10 mn. Drain and rinse with cold water. Set aside.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp oil in pan on med-high heat. Add eggs and scramble until set. Remove from the pan.
3. Add remaining oil and sautee the chicken until cooked through.
4. Add noodles, green onions and sauce - cook 3-4 mn, tossing as you go to coat all the noodles.
5. Add bean sprouts and egg and stir
6. Remove from heat and sprinkle with peanuts and cilantro, serve with lime wedges and extra sriracha.



October 5, 2013

Autumn!!! ...& PW's Chicken and Dumplings

It's autumn!

We had an abnormally hot September which meant that there was tons of fresh produce available at the farmers market but I had absolutely no desire to cook it.

Normally back to school time is my favorite part of the year. It's exciting for the kids, it's a new chapter for everyone. It's easy to get caught up in that excitement and make personal resolutions for all the things I'm going to get done once they're in school. I've had a list a mile long of recipes I want to try, projects I want to start (and probably never finish), cleaning I need to do before the winter blahs set in, calendars filled with new routines and ways to work out because THIS is the year I'm going lose all that baby weight...you know, the stuff that started piling on 17 years ago and kept going until 2 years ago when Ari was born...

So this week October showed it's lovely, autumnal face. It's been crisp in the mornings and warm in the afternoons. The leaves are starting to turn colors, it's beautiful. This weather makes me want to cook - comfort foods and soups and stews - things like homemade spaghetti, chili, my curried butternut soup, PW's Chicken and Dumplings, Sandwiches with crisp fresh apples tucked inside, fresh baked cranberry-apple crisp and carrot cake and apple cider with cinnamon sticks. It's simply the best part of the year.

We always talk about moving somewhere warmer - every winter that drags on endlessly, every day it's 20 below. It gets downright frigid here come February! But I don't know if I could give up my seasons...I love how the changes mean new possibilities, how exciting it is when the first snow falls - how exciting it is when you get that first day in the spring that's over 40. I love the hot summer days on the beach and the harvest that comes with the fall. It's Minnesota, baby!

Last night I made chicken and dumplings for the first time ever. I used PW's recipe which is adapted from and old Gourmet recipe and it was actually really good. I am typically NOT a dumpling fan - I think they're bland and gummy and...ish.

But these were really really good. They were light, they were tasty, they were everything I always imagined a dumpling SHOULD be, but never are. Liam even liked them, even though earlier he claimed that dumplings make him puke. Max was the only one who wasn't a fan. Max isn't a fan of very many things, so I wasn't too worried, although when he tried them he said that they tasted like "potatoes and underpants" - ha! Not sure how he knows what underpants taste like...

I posted some pictures of the boys, and the food of course and copied and pasted the recipe below :)
I Hope you enjoy as much as we did!

"Mom! Take my picture! Know what this means? I love this dinner!"


Maxi taking a bite of his potato-ey underpants-ey dumplings...
This is Ari's "smile!" face for the camera. Ridiculous but adorable :)
My Lodge pot full of yummy autumnal goodness...
Look at those perfect dumplings! Rustic and wonderful!




Oh, and here's the recipe! (copied from PW's site)

Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients

  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1 whole Chicken, Cut Into Pieces (cut Up Fryer)
  •  Salt And Pepper
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Carrots
  • 1/2 cup Finely Diced Celery
  • 1 whole Medium Onion, Finely Diced
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon Turmeric
  • 6 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
  • 1/2 cup Apple Cider
  • 1/2 cup Heavy Cream


 Dumplings:
  • 1-1/2 cup All-purpose Flour
  • 1/2 cup Yellow Cornmeal
  • 1 Tablespoon (heaping) Baking Powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher Salt
  • 1-1/2 cup Half-and-half
  • 2 Tablespoons Minced Fresh Parsley (optional)
  •  Salt As Needed

Preparation Instructions

Sprinkle chicken pieces with salt and pepper, then dredge both sides in flour.
Melt butter in a pot over medium-high heat. In two batches, brown chicken on both sides and remove to a clean plate.
In the same pot, add diced onion, carrots, and celery. Stir and cook for 3 to 4 minutes over medium-low heat. Stir in ground thyme and turmeric, then pour in chicken broth and apple cider. Stir to combine, then add browned chicken. Cover pot and simmer for 20 minutes.
While chicken is simmering, make the dough for the dumplings: sift together all dry ingredients, then add half-and-half, stirring gently to combine. Set aside.
Remove chicken from pot and set aside on a plate. Use two forks to remove chicken from the bone. Shred, then add chicken to the pot. Pour heavy cream into the pot and stir to combine.
Drop tablespoons of dumpling dough into the simmering pot. Add minced parsley if using. Cover pot halfway and continue to simmer for 15 minutes. Check seasonings; add salt if needed. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving.
*Adapted from Gourmet Magazine


October 30, 2012

Meatless Monday #1 - Roasted Acorn Squash and Couscous with Pine nuts and Craisins...

Wow. Been a while since I posted anything - blogger has gotten a little more user-friendly! Nice!

Anyway, back to the blog, as much as possible with 5 kids. I mean to keep up with this so Pipps has all my recipes some day but I have definitely skipped a LOT of them. She reminded me last night that the squash needed to go on the blog so here I am.

Last night we did our "first" meatless Monday. I say first only because we've done a ton of meatless dinners in the past but I'm trying to get a little more organized. Since A was born a year ago, my mind has been mush. There's always so much going on and I don't have a good system going. My goals are to get together a binder and try and sit down and plan as much as possible with the meals/shopping/etc. so we don't keep resorting to PB&J or popcorn/cheese/apple night. Don't get me wrong - those nights are nice sometimes, but I noticed a lot of junk food and take-out creeping into our house over the last year because it was easy, but it's expensive and not that healthy and so I'd like to phase that back out.

Pipps loves squash of pretty much any kind but especially the kind my mother makes filled with tons of butter and brown sugar and pecans. I've never been a huge fan but I started to not hate squash a couple years ago when I made this for the first time. Since then I've been a little more adventurous and have been open to trying it again so when it was on sale at the local market for .48/lb the other week, I grabbed a few different kind.

The acorn squash were the only ones that made it. The butternut squash got kicked through the kitchen after baby A pulled it onto the floor and then I didn't notice until a few days later that it had been punctured and was oozing out so I tossed it. It was probably ok but it sort of creeped me out. The other one I bought, I think a delicata? was mistaken for a pumpkin and brought to a party to get painted. That was actually sort of funny.

The 3 acorn squash that were left I roasted last night and they turned out great. I was originally going to stuff them with the couscous but we had a lot of last minute things going on last night so I ran out of time and just served it on the side and it was good. I made homemade veggie stock for the couscous because I had a bunch of veggie scraps in the freezer but you could sub a carton of veggie broth or even water, and if you don't care about being entirely meatless (I probably wouldn't), you could use chicken stock.

Roasted Acorn Squash with Garam Masala, Rosemary and Brown Sugar:
3 Acorn Squash, cut in half lengthwise and cleaned (scoop out the slime and the seeds)
3 Tbsp butter, cut into 6 pieces.
2 tsp Garam Masala
2 Tbsp fresh rosemary
6 tsp brown sugar
kosher salt
black pepper
olive oil for drizzling

Place the 6 acorn squash into a 9 x 13 pan. You have two options here...you can either mix together the rest of the ingredients together and evenly divide the mixture between the 6 halves of squash. OR...you can be lazy like I was and just stick a piece of butter adn a tsp of brown sugar into each half and then sprinkle the garam masala, rosemary, kosher salt and black pepper all over them.
Drizzle with a couple tsp of olive oil, cover with foil, and put in a 400 oven for 25 mn.
After 20 mn, remove the foil and baste the squash with the liquids. If the pan is too dry, you can add a little water to the bottom. I didn't need to do this, but you never know. Roast another 10 minutes or until the squash is soft enough to be pierced with a fork. When serving, make sure you grab a little of the juices that have accumulated on the bottom of the pan and drizzle over the squash.

Couscous Pilaf with Pine Nuts and Dried Cranberries
4 cups vegetable stock (or chicken stock or water)
3 cups couscous
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp cumin
2 Tbsp butter
1 cup pine nuts
1/2 cup dried cranberries
salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pot, melt the butter on med-high heat. Add the pine nuts and stir until they're toasted, careful not to burn the butter or the nuts. Add the stock, and spices and bring to a boil. Add the couscous and cranberries, stir, cover and remove from heat. Let rest for 15 minutes and then fluff with a fork when serving.

FYI - last night I realized halfway into this recipe that I only had about a cup of couscous. I thought I had more but that turned out to be polenta! SO - I actually started this with red quinoa and 10 mn brown rice I had (about 1/2 cup of each) and after 10 mn of simmering uncovered, added the couscous to the pot and covered and let rest. It turned out really well although my quinoa was a smide undercooked but nobody noticed except me :)

I have pictures on my phone - haven't figured out if I can integrate those somehow into here yet without searching for my usb cable...like I said before, I'm on a road to organization! It's a tough journey ;)

Enjoy!





February 22, 2012

Roast Beef with Balsamic and Coffee

Roast Beef with Balsamic and Coffee

So... I was talking to my Mom on the phone yesterday morning and like it always does, the conversation turned to food. She described a roast they'd had the night before that she'd made with balsamic and espresso powder and I was intrigued...

At 6 this morning I was awake before the kids and facing 48 hours with no sight of my husband so figured it was as good a time as any to get my roast in the crock!

I cut a yellow onion in half and sliced it thin and sliced 3 big cloves of garlic and tossed them with a tsp of olive oil and threw them in the bottom of the crock pot. I laid the roast (not sure what kind - it was about 3 lbs and wrapped in twine, which I cut off before I stuck it in the pot) on top of that and sprinkled/rubbed the top of the roast with a tsp of dried thyme and a TON of black cracked pepper, poured about 1/3 cup of balsamic in and then couldn't remember what else I was supposed to do so tossed in a bay leaf for good measure.

Except now that I think about it, I'm pretty sure I didn't throw that bay leaf in after all...

It was 6 am. I have a newborn in the house. I don't sleep much. My brain is mush.

I turned the crock pot on low, left a message for my Mom and then completely forgot about it until about 8:30 when I was pouring my second large cup of coffee and realized I'd forgotten the espresso! So, since I didn't actually HAVE any espresso powder, I just poured some of my hot coffee (about half cup) into the crock pot and stuck the lid back on.

Fast forward to 5 pm tonight (that'd be about 10.5 hours of cooking if you're keeping track...), I pulled the roast out and made a slurry of flour and cold water (about 2 Tbsp flour and just enough water to make it slurry!) and started up my immersion blender and blended it into the liquids and the onions and the garlic.

I turned the crock pot onto high and stuck the meat back in and started some mashed potatoes and thought about making a veggie...but then forgot.

My "gravy" was pretty thick by the time the potatoes had finished boiling so I threw about a cup of that hot starchy water into my crock pot to get to the right consistency, thought about throwing a little bouillon in there (forgot) and mashed my taters. I realized I hadn't made a vegetable so we had mixed greens with just dressing on them straight out of the container and that was that.

Meals are a lot like this at our house, although the forgetful part is a pretty new concept since little A was born. My mind is never where I need it to be trying to keep track of all these kids with all their lives and my husband in school and working and...well, a newborn = no sleep so I'm FAR from coherent these days. This usually doesn't bode well for my cooking (we've actually had a few too many "just ok" meals lately), but it is what it is and I'm trying not to worry about anything other than what I absolutely have to!

So...for those of you that requested the recipe, there it is. Not really a recipe but it turned out REALLY well. Everyone even had seconds, something that rarely happens in this house with M hating dinner altogether and L being the pickiest eater this side of the mason dixon line...

Bon Apetit!




January 28, 2012

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

My daughter is spending this year abroad and is planning on cooking a special meal and wanted the recipe for my strawberry goat cheese salad - something that I usually save for special occasions, not because it's that fancy, but it's beautiful and refreshing to have alongside what usually amounts to heavier, richer dishes that we tend to enjoy at the holidays. While I don't have an EXACT recipe, (I just sort of toss it all together), here's the gist of it (and a crappy picture from another post 3 years ago)...

If you don't have access to the fresh herbs, you can just leave them out or if you have dried, you could mix them into your dressing. I have made the dressing without the herbs de provence and just used dried basil and mint when I haven't had anything else available. If you cant find the chevre with herbs, just use whatever soft goat cheese you can find.

Strawberry Goat Cheese Salad

Ingredients:
1 - 8 oz package mixed greens (or use an assortment that you like - you could also just use baby spinach)
1 small package fresh basil, about 2 oz, very thinly sliced
1/2 small package fresh mint, about 1 oz, very thinly sliced
1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 - 4 oz log chevre goat cheese with herbs, crumbled
2/3 cup honey roasted pecans, chopped (recipe to follow)
Balsamic Dressing (recipe to follow)

Directions:
Place salad in large serving bowl
Arrange strawberries on top of the salad - you can make them pretty or just throw them all on there
With a fork, crumble the cheese over the salad
Sprinkle with the chopped pecans over the salad

Sprinkle basil and mint over the salad
Pour dressing over the salad

Eat immediately

*Honey Roasted Pecans:

Preheat oven to 350. Combine pecans and 2 Tbsp honey, spread on a baking sheet coated with cooking spray and bake 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. Let them cool and then chop for the salad

*Balsamic Dressing:
In a small bowl whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic dressing, 2 Tbsp Olive Oil, 1 tsp honey, 1/2 tsp Herbs de Provence, kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste.

January 24, 2012

Cuban (err...Minnesota) Black Beans

I hated beans as a kid - thought they were disgusting, gross, yuck! A pot of chili? No thanks. I don't know if I ever had them any other way as a kid but I remember hating chili. I also hated tomato sauce, so there was that.

It's good to be an adult and try things again that I thought I didn't like and realize that I actually DO like them - love them even! Black beans, mustard, marinara, chili...the list goes on and on.

Anyway, my favorite thing is often a big pot of black beans - we'll have them plain one night alongside something from the grill. I'll mash up the leftovers with extra cumin and chili powder the next night and cover them with cheese and cilantro and onion for "chips and dip dinner", (my kids favorite). I can also freeze these and add them into a pot of rice or to a pot of jambalaya, since we like our jambalaya with black beans in it.

They're easy and versatile.

Feel free to adjust the heat or leave out the lime - cuban black beans usually use red wine vinegar or sherry. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can just use what you have. Sometimes I cover them with fresh chopped white onion, sometimes green - just depends on what I have in the fridge. I often make a double or triple batch so I can freeze some because a pound of these disappears pretty quick around here!


Ms. Pinks Minnesota Black Beans

Ingredients:
1 lb dried black beans

6 cups water

2 Tbsp olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 sweet peppers, diced (you can use any combo - I typically use 1 red and 1 green)
2 jalapenos, minced (you can use just 1 or you can remove the seeds to reduce the heat or just leave them out altogether if you don't want any heat-  it's up to you!)


3 cloves garlic, smashed and minced with 1 tsp salt and 1 tsp black peppercorns in a mortar and pestle (if you don't have one, you can just mix them together but I find this way gets the most flavor)


1 tsp oregano
1 tsp cumin
1 bay leaf

3 Tbsp lime juice
1 tsp sugar
Kosher salt and fresh black pepper to taste


2 Tbsp olive oil to drizzle over the beans


Instructions:
1. Cover the dry beans with water and let them stand covered overnight. Drain and discard the water.
2. Put the beans in a large pot, add the 6 cups of water and a Tbsp of olive oil. Bring the beans to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until they're tender - about an hour.
3. When the beans are almost cooked, add the other Tbsp of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat - add the onion, peppers and jalapeno and cook until slightly tender, 3-5 mn. Add the garlic and cook another minute or until fragrant.
4. Add the cooked beans with 4 cups of the cooking water, oregano, cumin and bay leaf. Cover and simmer 20-30 mn, stirring occassionally, adding more of the reserved water as needed to reach your desired consistency.
5. Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf. Add the lime juice, sugar, salt and pepper and taste to adjust if needed. Drizzle with the 2 Tbsp olive oil and cover the pot, off the heat, for 5-10 minutes.
6. If you like a thicker pot of beans, take a cup or so of the mixture and mash it and then add it back to the pot of beans - when I make these the 2nd night, I usually take a few cups and mash them for our "dip".

Enjoy!