Sunday dinner for four.

Dinner!

Dinner!

Dessert!

Dessert!

Beet and Carrot Slaw, January/February 2010, pg. 21

Our Sunday night dinner this past week included a beef roast grilled at a low temperature on our charcoal grill, mashed potatoes, beet and carrot slaw, and black forest upside-down cakes.

Dinner was delicious, especially the beet and carrot slaw.  I love raw carrots.  On average I eat them 6 days a week: on salad or just plain carrots (Bugs Bunny style).  I love the sweetness of them and crunch.  I also really like roasted beets.  They are sweet and have a very unique color and taste!  I had never had raw beets or beet greens before so I was looking forward to this colorfully sweet slaw.

The slaw was very simple to make, although a little dangerous and it turned my hands pink!  I must admit I was pretty nervous grating the beets, picturing myself loosing pieces of fingers, every time I pushed the beet down the grater.  Next time I won’t cut both ends off the beets, so I will have a little more to hold onto while grating.  Washing the grated beets took a lot more water than I expected.  They WOULD NOT stop bleeding pink!  I finally got relatively clear water and called it quits.  The slaw dressing was very good.  The sweetness from the orange juice and tangy taste of the mustard and vinegar complemented the vegetables well.

The beet and carrot slaw was a hit!  Everyone went back for seconds, but we still had one serving of slaw leftover.  P brought it for lunch a few days later and said it still tasted great, however, everything had a pink tint.  Definitely a recipe to eat the day you make it, if you want three distinct colors!  I will be making this slaw again.

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Black Forest Upside-down Cakes, January/February 2010, pg. 51

The black forest upside-down cakes tasted good but the baking process was not positive.  As I made the batter, I was convinced the cakes were going to be a disaster.

My parents had dinner with us, so I doubled the recipe.  I was not a fan of the recipes directions.  The recipe tells you to stir room temperature butter (it’s January, so room temperature is 65⁰F) and sugar with a wooden spoon until light and fluffy.  Are you joking me?!  That was NOT going to be possible, so I got out my electric hand-beater.  The butter and sugar never got light and fluffy, it didn’t seem like there was enough butter to get the fluffy texture you usually get after beating the two ingredients.  (Since I doubled the recipe, so I checked my math and I did put the correct amount of each ingredient in the batter.)  Then I stirred in the rest of the ingredients and the batter was not what I was expecting.  It reminded me of an extremely thick brownie batter.  The batter was so thick, it stuck to my wooden spoon as I was putting it into my cherry lined pans.  I pulled up a few of the cherries as I was trying to evenly spread the batter in the pans.  At this point, I was positive, we wouldn’t be having dessert…

I ended up baking the two cakes for about 45 minutes.  This was probably because of my pan choice.  I didn’t have ramekins, but I did have two 5” springform cake pans.  While I let the cakes cool for twenty minutes, I made the whipped cream.  I left out the rum, because I’m not consuming alcohol anymore, and followed my grandmother’s advice for homemade whipped cream.

Put a glass bowl and the metal beaters in the freezer for at least 30 minutes before making the whipped cream.  (Yes, specifically a glass bowl.  I’ve gotten scolded for using a metal bowl, I honestly don’t know the reasoning behind the glass bowl but that’s how grandma does it.)  The cream whips much faster if all the utensils are colder than the cream.  Add a teaspoon or two of white sugar and then whip together until you get the consistency you want.  Back to the cakes…

The springform pans worked really well!  The cakes looked perfect.  Although, I think the batter was a little thicker and I probably should have used a third pan or pans that had a larger diameter.  This would have made the cherry to batter ratio more equal.

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Everyone really liked the rich tasting cakes.  One small piece for each person was more than enough.  I had never had sour cherries before and they were very good and went well with the chocolate.  But, honestly what doesn’t go well with chocolate?  I also liked the portion size of the cake.  In hindsight I didn’t even have to double the recipe.  The four of us ate one of the two cakes that night.  Personally, the cake was a little too dense for me.  I am going to blame the density on the very thick batter.  At this point, the black forest upside-down cakes, are a one-time experience for me.

Sandwich cookies.

Heart Sandwich Cookies, January/February 2010, pg.124

heart sandwich cookies

I was more than happy to make another dessert/snack that required rolled oats!  (I’m almost down to one container.)  I also thought these cookies would be perfect to mail to my brother for his birthday.  He’s a very busy person who eats at least 3 forms of peanut butter and jelly everyday.  Since, his cabinets are full of different jellies, hazelnut spread, peanut butter, almond butter, etc., (If you are going to eat three PB&J’s a day, you need variety!) I left the sandwich filling up to him.

The heart sandwich cookies were very easy to make.  I did use dark brown sugar, because that’s what I had.  The dough was a little darker than those in the Everyday Food issue, but the taste probably didn’t change that much.  Holy Moly, was the dough hard after I took it out of the refrigerator!  I had to let it sit for over 30 minutes before I could roll it.  I decided not to use a heart cookie-cutter, since I would be sending the cookies to my brother.  I also had to bake the cookies longer than the recipe said.  I am to blame for that because I’m not good at rolling thin cookies.  My rolled out dough is always thicker, maybe I need to keep a ruler in the kitchen.

The final product was pretty good.  I had a plain cookie and decided it tasted a lot like shortbread.  Which makes sense since there is 1.5 sticks of butter and a decent amount of sugar in the cookies.  I did find that the cookies were a little salty.  I would recommend decreasing the amount of salt.  My husband made a grape jelly sandwich with the cookies.  He said it was good but the jelly was rather messy.  So I decided to dip the cookies in some melted semi-sweet chocolate and make some sandwiches with the melted chocolate.  The hardened chocolate went well with the cookies and prevented a gooey mess while eating the sandwich cookies.  Overall, the sandwich cookies were fine, nothing special.

If you don’t like these muffins, there must be something wrong with you…

Healthy Morning Muffins, Jan/Feb 2010, pg. 120-121

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This has been one of my ‘go-to’ recipes since 2010.  The healthy morning muffins are a great item to bring when you are spending the weekend with friends and/or family.  They travel well and they really are a healthy morning or afternoon snack.  My nieces (5 and 3 years old) love the muffins and I haven’t met an adult yet that hasn’t liked them.

Over the past four years I’ve experimented a bit with the muffin recipe (purposefully and by accident).  Once, I bought 1-minute oats. (I must have been in a rush at the grocery store.)  The muffins came out fine, a little drier than normal and less texture.  So, I would highly recommend rolled oats (what the recipe calls for), but if you make a mistake at the grocery store, it’s not a big deal.  I’ve also experimented with shredded zucchini.  Which is very good.  I substitute some of the carrots for the zucchini, but not all.  My carrot measurements are always different.  I always use 4 carrots; whether they are medium or large, it doesn’t matter to me.  The more carrot the better.  You just may need to cook the muffins longer if you put larger carrots in the batter.

The muffins are like carrot cake without the frosting.  They are very moist, and the flavors from the carrots, banana, and raisins complement the other perfectly.  The muffins are very sweet naturally and therefore a large amount of sugar isn’t required.

During the summer, my bananas go bad much faster than I can eat them.  I’ve made several double-batches of the muffins.  Leaving some for now and the rest I will wrap in aluminum foil, put that in a freezer Ziploc bag, and then into the freezer.  That works out perfect if I don’t have time to bake something when we go visiting, or if it’s too hot to bake.

Great recipe!  Highly recommend it!  The pages of my issue 69 are beginning to stick together, good thing my favorite recipes can all be found online too.

Space Coyote?

Spicy Chard with Ginger Sauté 

Find your soulmate, Homer.

Find your soulmate, Homer.

Kale with Tomato, Garlic, and Thyme Sauté

Kale turns out to be delicious once you boil the weird out of it.

Kale turns out to be delicious once you boil the weird out of it.

Beet Greens with Bacon

points for bacon and pasta...

points for bacon and pasta…

On page 22-23 of this magazine, there are four sautés.  They just kind of look like blobs of dark green stuff, so it’s difficult to tell at first glance what you’re supposed to do with the “in season winter greens” pictured.  Just eat them?  A quick glance at the under 100 calorie nutrition information for all of them should tell you that, no…you’ll starve.  In steps the bubble on page 23.  It states, “Enjoy the sautés as sides, toss with pasta for a main course (the chard’s great with Asian noodles), or serve on crostini.”  I said, “Ok, bubble.  I’ll buy it.”  So I made the kale, the beet greens, and the chard.

I’m going to get the less than awesome experiences out of the way first so I can end on a high note.  Ok.  The bubble said (and when has a bubble ever lied to me?) that the chard is great with Asian noodles.  I still had a good amount of rice noodles in the pantry from the beef salad way back when.  I asked for suggestions on how to get these things out of my house, internet, and the silence was deafening.  Deafening.  Either we are all at a loss for what to do with rice noodles or someone has the secret and she’s keeping it from me.  *narrows her eyes…*  Easy peasy, I’ll toss the spicy chard with ginger sauté with the rice noodles.  Here’s the important word in that recipe that you must pay attention to: “spicy.”  The recipe has two sliced jalapeños in it.  There’s no mention of seeding them, removing the ribs, or anything.  That’s two jalapeños and to balance that out?… chard and ginger.  Fun fact about chard and ginger: they do jack squat to cool down jalapeños.  I made this recipe as written and it was physically painful to eat.  And I love spicy food.  I put it on the rice noodles thinking, “Here we go.  The noodles will cool it down.”  Nope.  At this point, it was either throw it out or start doctoring it.

Paging Dr. P. Nutbutter!

I added a pretty considerable amount of peanut butter to the sauté.  Maybe a 1/4 cup.  It was still spicy, but not punishing.  As the final touch, I served it with diced mangoes and pineapple on the side.  Finally, after all that, we ate dinner.  Whew!

The upside: if you’re going to make this recipe, I highly recommend making a peanut butter-based sauce to put on top.  I added a 1/4 cup of peanut butter.  I could also see a mixture of peanut butter, sesame oil, and rice wine vinegar, not unlike my beloved Sesame Noodles.  You will also want to serve this on noodles.  I also recommend serving it with a cooling side.  If I did this again, frankly, I would also use only one jalapeño and take out the seeds and ribs.  Or coat your mouth with wax like Homer does before he eats the Guatemalan insanity peppers.  Upside to that plan, you get to meet a space coyote.

Then there’s the beet greens with bacon, which has the opposite problem.  It’s pretty boring.  Maybe the problem is that I tried to make all of these sautees into main dishes when this one should really just be a side dish.

With that out of the way, we have an unqualified winner of a recipe to report: Kale with Tomato, Garlic, and Thyme.  This one is as quick and easy as it is delicious.  Sauté some veggies, boil some kale, boil some pasta (I think I might have used the same water), and toss it with salt, pepper, and oil.  C’mon!  Also, with the nice garlic and thyme, plus the intense green flavor of the kale, this prevents this recipe from becoming one of those dreaded Everyday Food pasta with no sauce recipes.

Stir-Fried Honey-Ginger Chicken with Peppers

Stir-Fried Honey-Ginger Chicken with Peppers

Honey and ginger, two of my favorite things.

Honey and ginger, two of my favorite things.

Everyday Food certainly loves their stir fries.  I have to admit it is kind of nice.  Up to this point, with very few exceptions, I pretty much sliced up chicken or pork, tossed in a bag of stir fry style frozen veggies and added some Soy Vey Teriyaki Sauce (if you’ve never tried it, it’s truly delicious).  So, here is yet another example of how this blog has taken me out of my comfort zone.  Yay!

This stir fry was both incredibly beautiful and incredibly tasty.  I took the suggestion in the magazine and went with red, orange and yellow bell peppers.  It’s not often you have such a colorful meal in the middle of winter.  Additionally, the honey and the ginger made the chicken and peppers so flavorful!  As usual, I served it with brown rice.

This was a delicious and healthy dinner at the peak of comfort food season.  Give it a try!

Sometimes I forget a main ingredient (and to take a picture)…

Spicy Sausage, Bean and Cheese Nachos

[Insert photo here… please.  Maybe you could make this dish properly and email me a photo. Thanks!]

Where to begin.  First of all, I had been driving all day.  Like all day.  I got in the car around 9:30am and aside from a couple of brief stops, I drove until arriving home at 8pm.  I had looked at the recipe before I left for a weekend away and had bought all the necessary ingredients.  I thought it would be something I could throw together quickly when I got home if it was late.  Well, I was right about that part.  Although, it was obviously quicker since I forgot the entire bean component.

Yeah, I threw it together without looking at the recipe again.  So I had sausage, cheese, green chiles in place of jalapeños, and black olives.  Super easy!  Super tasty!  I bet it would be great with the beans as well…  And like a recipe that might actually belong in a magazine and not like something a bunch of college kids tossed together when they got home from the bar on a Friday night.

And yes, I also forgot the picture.  Moral of the story.  Don’t trust yourself to cook for a blog after a day of driving.  In fact, don’t trust yourself to cook at all.  Maybe just pick up some take out.

I think you should try this recipe.  And then tell me how it actually tastes.

Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon

Chicken and Rice Soup with Lemon

Also known as avgolemono, this soup has been a longtime favorite of mine.  I’ve made several version of this Greek soup and this recipe stands up with the best of them.

It's delicious, though it doesn't make for a thrilling photo...

It’s delicious, though it doesn’t make for a thrilling photo…

No matter what recipe I’ve used, this soup is remarkably simple, only 5 ingredients plus salt and pepper (I refuse to count a garnish as a legit ingredient, so the dill from this recipe is not included in my calculation).  And it always tastes delicious.  It is both super comforting and incredibly light at the same time.  The lemon is refreshing and makes you think of the springtime.  I particularly enjoy this soup in the deepest, darkest part of the winter (the short hours of sunlight in January, ugh).

This recipe includes chicken breast which helps fill out the soup.  I personally enjoy it even without the additional meat, but the Bear needs something heartier so this recipe actually works better for us than the other versions I’ve made in the past.

I know I often tell you try give a recipe a try.  But seriously, give this recipe a try.  Try it during the next snowstorm, when you don’t feel like the spring will ever come and you are overwhelmed by the grey and gloom.  It will make your heart happy.  Seriously.

Deliciously cheap granola!

Maple-Nut Granola, Jan/Feb. 2010, pg. 60

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For some reason 2013 was the ‘Year of Oats’ for me.  I would go to the grocery store and think we needed oats, by October I had three large containers of Quaker Oats.  Needless to say I was pretty happy there are so many recipes in the January/February 2010 issue that need oats!

I’ve made this granola several times since I first received the issue in 2010.  Good granola is so expensive to buy at the store and so easy to make at home.  Granola is one of the main components of my breakfast, ‘yogurt slop’.  At first glance people usually say, “What are you eating?” with an awful expression on their face.  After I explain that it’s plain yogurt, fruit, and granola, the awful expression changes, “Oh.  I bet it’s pretty good!”…It is!

'Yogurt Slop'

‘Yogurt Slop’

The maple-nut granola is simple to make, delicious and very easy to make variations of the original recipe.  This time I made the granola with walnuts and blueberry infused dried cranberries, and of course some Lewis County, NY maple syrup.  I didn’t have pecans and almonds, and I had already new that the original variation was delicious.

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The walnut and blueberry infused dried cranberries was fantastic!  I also froze half of the granola and sent some to my brother.  Who works all of the time and eats healthy, but time is his limiting factor.  I hope he likes the granola as much as I do.

I would definitely recommend the granola.  Experiment with the add-ins.  It’s pretty difficult to make bad granola.

FYI.  It’s January 2014 and I’m down to 1.3 large containers of oats!

A nice Sunday dinner…

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Old-Bay Roasted Sweet Potatoes, Jan/Feb 2010, pg. 105

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Old-Bay is a great spice!  I had never heard of it until I lived on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and then it was in everything!  Now it’s a staple on our spice rack.

P and I don’t eat a lot of meat anymore so on Sunday’s we usually cook a larger cut of meat that will provide leftovers throughout the week.  This past Sunday we spatchcocked a chicken and grilled it.  For our sides we had steamed broccoli and old-bay roasted sweet potatoes.

A low stress, simple Sunday dinner.  Everything was delicious, especially the potatoes!  Sometimes old-bay can be overpowering, but the natural sweetness of the potatoes paired well with the amount of old-bay.  We had leftover chicken and potatoes, that we made into chicken salad for lunches and I used the potatoes in Monday’s dinner; black bean burgers.  I used the food processor to blend the black beans and potatoes, spices, and an egg.  The burgers were also delicious!

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The old-bay roasted sweet potatoes were great as a traditional side and an additional ingredient to black bean burgers.

Broiled Pineapple with Frozen Yogurt,  Jan/Feb. 2010, pg. 65

A lovely dessert!  It was simple and quick.  The broiled pineapple with frozen yogurt was a perfect last course to a Sunday dinner.  But nothing beats a fresh pineapple, no additions required for me to eat the whole thing in one day or one sitting.  It’s been known to happen.

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Thank Goodness for the January/February Issue!

You may have noticed, we fell a little behind on the writing again.  Ugh.  Who knew so much writing would be required for a blog? Anyway, as usual, we have been cooking in a timely manner, just not updating you on all of our adventures.

So, let me introduce the Jan/Feb 2010 issue!  The Light Issue.  Lots of lean meats and veggies in this one.

I started the year off making the Pasta with Roasted Vegetables and Arugula.

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As is often the case with the EF pastas, it seemed a little dry.  I don’t think this would have been an issue if I had doubled the roasted vegetable recipe.  The vegetables were pretty delicious. Roasted garlic, shallot and tomato make a nice, savory combination.

I say, go ahead and make this, just double the veg!