Archive for February, 2010

Pot Roast and Sympathy…

Was that just funny in my mind? We’ve had a lot of tea around here lately since we’ve all been a bunch of “sickies” as I call it. Anyway, back on topic…after spending nearly an hour building (dare I say-crafting) a pretty spectacular Thomas the Train Track with my preschooler, I caught up on some rest and Good Morning America. To my surprise and delight, one of my very favorite food bloggers, The Pioneer Woman, had her own cooking segment! Way to go Ree! I am so inspired by this woman who is a self proclaimed “city gal” who met her husband in a “smokey bar” as she shared, got married and found herself living on a working ranch! Two seconds later they had four children, lots of responsibilities, not to mention hungry tummies to fill. She laughs that her friends from the city would call her the “Pioneer Woman” since this was quite a new adventure for her. She eventually wanted to document her baking and cooking….thus the beginning of her fabulous food blog, “The Pioneer Woman.” She now has her very own cookbook out also. She records her everyday recipes in such appetizing, beautiful and natural photographs that appeal to your eyes and stomach! I love, love this blog! You will find the link under my blog roll, please take a gander and spend some time. Back to GMA, Ree was featuring a pot roast  (incidentally, this is what’s for dinner tonight at my house) that was a fix it and forget it kind of meal for a hungry bunch with a few special twists. After browning the roast that has been dried off, salted and peppered-she added thyme, roasted carrots & red wine for cooking liquid. This slow cooked on the stove top for about 5 hours and was served up with herb mashed potatoes. See her blog for the full recipe. I love her tips for pot roast, such as, if the meat seems tough it needs to be cooked longer to allow the connective tissues to break down more. Always dry the meat before browning and cook potatoes separate from the roast to keep them from becoming mealy. Roasting the veggies prior to adding to the roast to slow cook adds incredible flavor. There are many more tips on her blog that I am sure you’ll find helpful. Try this recipe for dinner this week!

Tea Talk

My husband just made me a steaming hot mug of my favorite chamomile tea with a drizzling of sweet citrus honey from Yuma, AZ (thanks to my great Aunt & Uncle who frequent the farmers markets) in my very favorite orange Starbucks mug. Yum. It’s official, the “sickness” as I call it now, has found it’s way to my body, yeah. However, even in the blur of taking care of all my “sickies” today is a new day, a new week and I am determined to treat myself better than I have as of late. Yes, I am referring to my steady consumption of cupcakes, cookies, coffee, sugar, sugar, coffee, coffee…well, you get the idea! Even I am surprised at my food choices because I usually have much more moderation and thought into what I put into my body. Must be the “sickness” wreaking havoc on my decision making abilities, right? Sure, that’s it. But, I guess we all have our moments. Anyway, I have done considerably better today and only broken into the last of the cookies once. Hey, baby steps! All kidding aside, I am determined to continue to press into my focus on my physical goals since in the last several weeks I seem to have become a split personality health & nutrition wise! Today’s thoughtful choice, a spicy slow-cooked pulled chicken quesadilla. Sounds like a laborious process, yes, but I had prepared the chicken and froze it a few weeks ago, so defrost took me from hungry to satisfied quickly. Quesadillas are a fave of mine, whole wheat tortillas, reduced fat mozzarella cheese shredded, fat-free refried beans, moist, spicy pulled chicken prepared with Rotel diced tomatoes, diced jalapeno & chili powder. Layer in a skillet, brown both sides and top with mild salsa and enjoy! This should help clear the nasal passages in a hurry! I must, must, must treat myself well no matter how I am feeling. This is my official “get-a-grip” moment! Off to make more tea and rest…

Fevers & Frosting…

It’s Valentine’s Day weekend and everyone in my house is sick! What luck, my poor husband has pneumonia and my son is spiking 103 degree temp! Baby girl is coughing like a seal at the zoo. So, after an entire weekend of taking temps, sucking lovelies out of noses, handing out kleenex, being on hand-washing germ patrol, playing the “drink your fluids” police, fixing toast, making tea, measuring out meds, kissing foreheads, rocking babes, wiping tears….I am emotionally exhausted people! I want to cry, to sit right down on the kitchen floor and have a good wailing blubbering cry! By the time everyone was in bed tonight, tucked in and checked on for the third time each, temps taken again for reassurance, meds given for the night, rocking and lullabies commenced (and driveway shoveled might I add!)…here I sit on the couch, alone, in the dark, snowy night….did I mention ALONE! In quietness…dare I say. Did I cook this weekend? What did we even eat? Ugh…I need a cupcake, or four. Deep, dark, red velvet chocolate cupcakes with cream cheese frosting, complements of my step-mother. Thank God for comforting, moist, creamy, delicious, sweet cupcakes! Yes, I know, food can’t make it all better…but since I never went to college to be a nurse but as a mom am required to have the discernment of one without the pay…dang it, cupcake enjoyment here I come!

Food Photography

Over the weekend I of course did some blog surfing looking for something fun my son & I could bake together. I spent quite a bit of time at one of my favorites, Bakerella. The food photography is amazing! The pictures document the author’s baking experiments as her focus is “Sweet Inspiration & Fun Baking Ideas.” There, you will find some of  the most creative cupcakes and cakepops you will ever see.  Each picture has you salivating because you can almost taste the pictures of these sweet beauties! I stumbled upon an entry in the “cupcake” category all about cupcakes & photography. The author so generously shares her tips, equipment suggestions, & know-how to snap the most appealing pictures with the least amount of fuss. I found it very intriguing, since I’m a newbie at food blogging, so naturally I have to share this inspiring blog with all of you who are just as fascinated with food photography as much as I am!

Enjoy!

www.bakerella.com

Cheater Gourmet Pancakes

Tonight was a tremendous undertaking with bath-time, getting baby girl to bed, practicing the alphabet & reading with my son. So, by the time I got to dinner, my choices were limited by a dwindling grocery supply and mental & emotional exhaustion! Pancakes! Yes, pancakes sounded good, but something a little more than the ‘ol stand-by breakfast fare. I looked around the kitchen and grabbed a few items that sounded like they’d meld together fairly well & maybe prove that I had actually put a little thought into my dinner selection tonight. I am quite surprised that for a cheaters version of a “gourmet” pancake (okay, it’s gourmet by my standards, remember I’m a newbie foodie!) the flavors and textures were  luscious and incredibly rich.

Coconut-Orange Walnut Pancakes

Boxed pancake mix (follow package instructions) Knotts is a very good mix!

Add-about 1/4 cup orange juice to prepared mix

Heat griddle to medium heat, spoon 1/4 cup batter in griddle when hot

Add a handful of toasted walnuts, fingerfuls of flaked coconut, and grated orange zest to each uncooked side of pancake.

Turn pancake when bubbles appear

Cook second side to personal taste (I love the texture slightly undercooked)

Serve with soft butter and warm maple syrup-orange extract would be tasty

Enjoy!

Orange Chicken with Fried Rice

As I was obsessively searching food blogs I came across this recipe for Orange Chicken with Fried Rice from a blog called “Evil Shenanigans.” This is such a fun baking and cooking blog, I must say. The author writes about her dislike for American Chinese food because of it’s often goopy, extra sweet, super saucy, dried-out, & high fat offerings. However, when her mother in-law cooked this dish for her, it changed her entire opinion on Chinese food. I tried the recipe and made a few changes based on what I had in the pantry that night. It turned out fabulous! Pretty simple and quick I must say, especially for deciding to throw the meal together later in the evening on a whim. Her pictures are really a good depiction of the result! Wonderful, you simply must try this recipe.

http://www.evilshenanigans.com/2010/01/orange-chicken-with-fried-rice/

Enjoy!

Ashley

Beignets

Since my toddler tea party earlier I’ve been thinking about those tasty beignets that had my mouth-watering watching the process on the food network. So, I went searching for a good recipe. The Joy of Cooking is always a great go-to for info, education & recipes. Apparently beignets are popular in New Orleans! They are served up with chicory-flavored coffee according to The Joy of Cooking. There are also wonderful recipes for homemade pancakes and waffles of various kinds that have turned out quite well for me in the past in this broad collection of recipes.

Beignets

Combine in medium saucepan and bring to a steady boil-

1/2 cup water

4 Tbs. unsalted butter

1 Tbs. sugar

1/2 tsp. salt

Add all at once-

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

Stir vigorously, without stopping, over medium heat until mixture comes together and takes on a shine. Continue to cook, stir constantly, for 2 minutes. Remove pan from heat, you will notice the  flour has formed a light crust on the bottom of the pan. Transfer mixture to a bowl. Add, one at a time, beating on medium speed for 2 to 3 minutes after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl-

4 large eggs

Mixture is smooth, shiny, and fold over on itself in a ribbon when beater lifted. Beat in-

2 tsp. vanilla

Immediately drop the dough, a scant tablespoon at a time, into deep fat heated to 365 degrees F. Fry 4 or 5 beignets at a time until puffed and golden on both sides. Drain well on paper towels and dust with-

powdered sugar