Saturday, July 2, 2011

Kitchen Goals

I've now decided that I want to start making my own peanut butter and bread. We'll see how this goes. Maybe this is just nesting or maybe it's time to realize that some things are just better to do yourself. Besides, I'm tired of the Oatmeal bread that falls apart and don't always want whole grain or multi-grain. If I make the bread myself than I can do any combination of white/whole wheat that works for that week. As for the peanut butter - I buy natural peanut butter but it gets unspreadable by the end of the jar and I end up throwing some out. What a waste.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Martha Is My Hero

As a big fan of unrealistic expectations, I am also a big fan of Martha Stewart. While I am unable to even come close to attempting her crafts or gardening feats, I am always up for her kitchen challenges. I only wish that I had her space for an extensive collection of dishes and serverware. After all, I am my mother's daughter and rarely put the cooking dish on the table. It appears that my daughter is following in my footsteps with her play kitchen too. Success!

Imagine my delight when I checked celebrity birthdays for August 3 and found out that if all goes according to plan, my second child will be born on both my father's birthday and Martha Stewart's birthday!

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

A Summer Success

Being five weeks away from having a baby popped out of me makes me very tired by the end of the day. Add in the heat, humidity and the two-year old and it's a wonder that my house is still standing by the end of the day. Really, I feel great. I'm just bone-weary exhausted and not very hungry. Needless to say, this unique combination of factors has made summertime cooking more of a challenge than normal.

Last week was highlighted by a cranky toddler who didn't nap and came down with her second ear infection in a month and two pink eyes. My major culinary feat that week was reheating the baked spaghetti my husband made the night before without the use of a microwave*.

Side Note: Our very annoying microwave that beeped too much was killed by lightening during a storm. After watching my husband microwave a spoon with no results, I told him to throw it away and be done with it. I decided that I liked the counterspace more than the convenience.

I am determined to do better this week and am off to a great start. Since nothing wears me out more than grocery shopping in the afternoon, I decided to make do with what we had on hand and came up with this refreshing alternative to tuna noodle casserole.

What I Did:
  • Make a box of orzo to taste. The only taste being a minute less than al dente.
  • Whiz up rosemary, fresh basil (minus snail), a handful or so of oil-cured kalamata olives, zest and juice of a lemon. The Cuisinart Mini-Prep Plus is perfect for this job.
  • Whisk together one tablespoon of olive oil, one tablespoon of red wine or white balsamic vinegar and a squirt of Maille dijon mustard together.
  • Mix the pesto-like mixture and the vinegarette with the drained pasta. Add two cans of good canned tuna (Albacore solid white) and as many garden-fresh tomatoes as you have to the pasta salad.
  • Don't forget salt and pepper as you go along. Next time I want to add some red chili flakes for some kick.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

A Belated Ending

Obviously this project has long since ended in a blaze of incomplete shame. Apparently, Martha doesn't realize that I lack a rambling homestead with acres of vegetable gardens, berry patches and free-range livestock. Instead, I rely on my local Publix that carries blackberries for $6 a pint - in season. Of course, I realize that these menus were never intended to be made weekly but a grand challenge is a grand challenge until you realize that more than half your week's already-astronomical grocery bill is taken up with ONE MEAL. Now I use the cookbook as it was intended - another resource on the shelf when I need a new recipe.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Switch-A-Roo: Meal 4 Becomes Meal 3

We invited our neighbor friends John and Michael over for dinner. However, Meal 3 featured seafood and John is allergic so we did a little switching and Meal 4 (Cantaloupe Wedges with Feta Cheese; Honey-Glazed Chicken Skewers; Summer Squash and Olive Phyllo Tart and Espresso Cream Crunch) became Meal 3.

The Nerve of That Tart
Amazingly enough, I did NOT sustain a major injury while thinly slicing the squash and zucchini for the tart and I praised the Good Lord for pitted Kalamata olives so that I didn't have to do all the dirty work. The tart featured an aromatic mix of Mediterranean herbs that were surviving in my sad, slow-growing herb garden.

That's Not What Martha Said
Due to my inability to properly cut raw chicken thighs into thirds, I deviated from the recipe and placed the chicken thighs in a Pyrex baking dish. After a short internal debate, I followed the directions for the skewers and poured the rest of the marinade over the chicken thighs. I wrong. Because of the amount of extra marinade, the chicken didn't really roast or carmalize. Instead, they were incredibly tender and juicy without much flavor. Oh well, next time I'll make skewers like I was supposed to...

Fruit and Cheese
Interesting combination, but I still don't like cantaloupe that much. Besides, there isn't really much to say about the wonderful combination of salty cheese and sweet fruit.

The Dessert That Keeps You Up at Night
This dessert is one instance that using freshly made whipped cream makes all the difference in the world. It was one of Rick's favorite desserts - ever. The recipe is a little stingy with the chocolate-covered espresso beans, so I added more. That might be why Mom, Rick and I all had trouble sleeping.

All in All
I was somewhat relieved when the company couldn't make it. The chicken was too disappointing. However, I did enjoy the meal with Mom and sent her home with a plate for Dad.


I've been cooking, I promise. I just haven't been writing. Well, I've been writing but not for this. Work has picked up of late, which is a good thing so I've been writing words while the sun shines. So here goes my game of catch-up...

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Dinner Two - Still Not a Fan of Tofu

One of the reasons I started this culinary experiment was to challenge my notions of what I liked and didn't like. Before this, it wouldn't have occurred to me to make this meal of Broiled Black Pepper Tofu, Soy-Lemon Dipping Sauce, Soba Noodle Salad with a dessert of Baked Apricots with Almond Topping. That being said, I liked the recipes and thought that everything turned out really well. It's just that no matter how well it's cooked, I'm still not a fan of tofu. It's a texture thing.

Searching for Soba
As a result of reading too many cookbooks and watching too many cooking shows I happen to know that soba noodles are an Asian noodle made from buckwheat flour. I wasn't able to find the soba noodles at my Publix or my mom's Winn Dixie. Two very friendly and helpful employees, one named Hasaam, helped me search high and low for the noodles. One of the guys asked why I needed soba noodles and I told him "because Martha said so". I ended up finding the noodles at World Market a hand-lettered Asian and Latin market on Beach Boulevard. Funny thing was that there were three different size packages of noodles - and all of them were $3.99. So naturally, I bought the biggest package, which was 300 grams of noodles. Let me know if you need any, I have extra.

Sunny Soy-Lemon Goodness
This dipping sauce was certainly the highlight of the meal. Full of zest (lemon) and ginger this flavorful sauce is a new favorite. I'm thinking that I'll use it for marinating chicken wings...

Fruit-Tastic Finish
I shouldn't admit this, but I didn't fully realize that apricots came fresh because I only had ever seen them dried. But duh, if it's dried it has to be fresh at some point. But fresh apricots are smaller than I thought and located near the peaches and nectarines. Once topped with a mix of unsalted butter, brown sugar and almonds then baked in the oven these made for a surprisingly rich dessert with enough tartness to add interest.