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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Some things I'm crazy about

I know I've mentioned it before, but there are a few things in the world of food that I'm crazy about. If there's something on the menu with these choice ingredients, I'll definitely be getting it. To name a few...Coconut, butternut or acorn squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes. And why do I love these things so? They're all sweet, of course!

Upon doing a little search of these ingredients, I came across a few recipes I'll be making in the future. Just thought I'd pass along the goods:

Coconut Ginger Spiced Carrot Soup - different, I know, but I bet it's delish!

Coconut Mashed Sweet Potatoes - Hello! How have I never heard of this before?? It's a Hawaiian dish.

Acorn squash quesadillas -
Yum!

Thai Coconut Corn soup - Thanks Jen Gordon!

Maybe I'll get creative and come up with some of my own.
One of these days I'll share my recipe for my mom's famous homemade coconut or chocolate pie.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Marinara, veggie lasagna and soup



My life has to be all about planning these days. Planning meals, planning lessons, planning what errands I'll run on what day, planning when I'll work out, planning the boys' activities, planning when not to cook, etc. I like to try to spend some time on Sunday each week making my plans for the week. I need to plan on two decent cooked at home meals this week. Why just two? Well, thanks to the baptist church down the road, our boys attend AWANA on Wednesday night and we have a date night each week. Wednesdays are my night off from cooking and eating at home. Out of the other 4 nights (I'm counting weeknights here), I know we'll be heading out of town on Friday, so that leaves Mon., Tues., and Thurs. I'll plan on cooking two nights and having leftovers the other. Of course, good planning requires a big trip to the grocery, which I took care of this afternoon.

So..what to make. I've already gotten a head start on that one. As I type, my house smells amazing thanks to the big pot of homemade marinara I have simmering on the stove. There's enough in there for several meals, so I'll freeze most of it. Let me just say that I don't always make a homemade marinara. There are plenty of good ones out there at the store, so I usually start with a jarred variety and add to it. However, I got inspired this time and decided to make it from scratch. It's really quite simple and not too time consuming. Plus, it leaves you with so much that you can just freeze it in one or two cup batches and have plenty on hand for next time.

So...here is the Basic Marinara recipe from Cooking light.

On our menu for tomorrow night...Vegetable Lasagna inspired by Heather. Actually, that's probably not the most accurate title. It's not technically veggie, I do add meat to it, but there's sure a lot of veggies used. I'll utilize the veggies I have on hand and add some sweet Italian chicken sausage to the marinara. This lasagna is amazing and I'm convinced it's due in part to the addition of pumpkin. It adds such a subtle sweetness. I also love the fact that the veggies are all buzzed up in the food processor so the kids don't really notice them. It's a great way to slip some veggies into their mouths with them even knowing it.

For later in the week, I'm trying a soup I've never made before. Sweet Potato and White Bean Soup with Sage Walnut Pesto.
I just love making soup. I love the versatility of it. It can satisfy lunch or dinner, it will freeze well (usually), and I enjoy the process of making it. It may be a bit ambitious to serve this to the kids, but we'll give it a try. Of course, I'll have bread, fruit and salad to satisfy them if they turn their little noses up at the soup.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Sole with sides


In my last post, I mentioned a cookbook a friend game me called Apples For Jam. Such a cool cookbook to just sit down and read. Even better to cook from!

For my first recipe from this book, I made pan fried sole with lemon garlic butter. Quite easy to make. You simply make a sauce of 3 tablespoons butter, 2 cloves of crushed garlic, 1/4 tsp. sweet paprika, salt, and the juice of a lemon. Cook the butter and garlic over medium heat until it sizzles. Add the paprika , season with salt and sizzle a bit more. Once it turns golden, add the lemon juice and cook for another minute. Keep warm while you get to the fish.
Lightly coat filets of sole in flour and sauté until golden, salting and peppering each side as you turn. Serve the fish topped with the sauce and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

The recipe has it served alone, but I put it atop a mix of regular and whole wheat spaghetti noodles tossed with olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice and crushed garlic. It would be wonderful with a little sauteed spinach thrown in as well. I'll use the leftover noodles for the boys dinner later this week. Maybe I'll throw a little cheese in and make a side of peas. I need something really easy since David will be gone for three nights this weekend.

For the sides, I made snow peas with butter, salt and pepper, and made the same sweet potatoes as the night before (see the last post). Still every bit as delicious.

David raved over it and the boys ate pretty well. I've realized Ethan just doesn't care for sweet potatoes, but he ate everything else on his plate.

It may sound weird, but I'm kinda craving a salad with the snow peas and sweet potatoes thrown in. Perhaps that will be my lunch today.

Monday, January 5, 2009

A meal revisited, with a couple of newbies

It was so good to finally get back in the kitchen and cook a decent meal after not really cooking for a couple of weeks. It's therapy for me.

I used my own blog tonight for inspiration. After scouring through some past entries, I remembered how good the black beans and brown rice and grilled chicken meal was. I'm telling you, the curry in the black beans is amazing. Don't be afraid of curry. At least not curry powder. It adds a slight sweetness to the beans. I planned ahead and soaked dry beans a couple of days ago, so no canned beans tonight. I used TJ's Island Soyaki Marinade for the chicken and made a huge batch of brown jasmine rice.
I got to put my new Christmas present to use for the first time; a slicer/shredder attachment for my Kitchen Aid (thank you David!). I shredded a block of raw milk cheddar cheese in about 20 seconds! Awesome! I used the cheese to top off the chicken, which topped off the black beans, which topped off the rice.

I also had some lovely sweet potatoes courtesy of the last CSA box that needed to be used and I found the best recipe online for Maple glazed roasted sweet potatoes.
These may have been the best sweet potatoes I've ever made. I don't know if it was the cooking method or if they were just really good potatoes, but they were so soft and buttery. They tasted just like those terrible sweet potato patties you buy at the grocery that are full of buttermilk, corn starch, and food dyes. This version only had two tablespoons of butter; that's way less than I normally use. I'm sad to say there's no leftovers of those babies.

I'll probably use the black beans and rice again for lunch tomorrow; maybe even scramble an egg into them for some protein.

I got a little inventive with dessert as well. While the boys, David included, made build you own ice cream sundaes, I took a healthier route. I made my own version of one of my favorite desserts found at Thai restaurants; Sticky Sweet Rice with Mangoes. It may sound weird, but trust me; it's amazing. I'm normally a chocolate or cake person, but I tried this dessert at a local Thai place and have gotten it ever since. I've never attempted to really make it myself. Everytime I've asked a server if it's difficult to make, they've all said yes. I figure I'll leave the real thing up to the experts.
My knock off version wasn't so bad, though. I took some of the brown rice from dinner, topped it with sliced mango, and poured a little TJ's organic sweetened condensed milk over the whole thing. Not bad at all. It satisfied my sweet tooth!

I love brown rice! I'm considering having it for breakfast tomorrow. Maybe I'll top it with maple syrup and pecans, just like I do oatmeal.

On a side note, a sweet friend gave me a cool cookbook she found at Anthropologie called Apples for Jam. It's got some great recipes in it and I'm getting really inspired to start cooking away.