Monday, March 29, 2010

This is what happens when you have an older sister...

Ian age three
She pretends you are a real live doll.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Bits of Encouragement

The first sign of spring in our yard. It is pretty incredible that this little crocus pokes it's head out of the frozen soil every spring. I think about the conditions it has been living in the last few months and every year without fail she pops out. When I came home yesterday, I noticed her dark purple petals right away. Reminds me of this verse. Happy Spring friends!

I can do EVERYTHING through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:13

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mushroom Bourguignon

I know it is officially spring now and most of us are not thinking about making stew, but I made this awhile ago and it was so good I had to share it with you. You all know how I feel about Brian's Boef Bourguignon, but when I saw this recipe on Smitten Kitchen I knew I had to try it. You might want to check out her original recipe which is fancier than mine, and I am sure better. I wanted to make it more of a week night version, and adapted it that way. Although my version was a big hit with our family. I just might need to seek this in one last time, before it really warms up.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon butter, softened

2 pounds button mushrooms,

2 carrots, cut into coins

1 small yellow onion, sliced

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 cups beef or vegetable broth (beef broth is traditional but vegetable to make it vegetarian; it works with either)

2 tablespoons tomato paste

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves (1/2 teaspoon dried)

1 1/2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

Light Sour cream

1. Heat one tablespoon of olive oil in a med. dutch oven over high heat. Cook the mushrooms until they are fully cooked and have released their liquid. Remove them from the pan.

2. Turn the heat down to medium and add another tbs. of olive oil. Add the carrots, onions, thyme, salt, and ground pepper and cook for 10 minutes stirring occasionally until the onions are light brown. Add the garlic and cook for about a minute.

3. Add 1 cup of water, scraping any bits off the bottom of the pan, and reduce it by half. Stir in the tomato paste and broth. Add the mushrooms back with their juices. When it comes to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes.

4. Combine the butter and the flour with a fork until combined; stir it into the stew. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. If the sauce seems thin, boil it down until you reach the right consistency. Season with salt and pepper.

Serve with mashed potatoes and a dollop of sour cream.

Happy Monday friends! Enjoy.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy Saint Patrick's Day!!

Katie and Ian
St. Patrick's Day 2010

Monday, March 15, 2010

50 cookbooks ~ Inside America's Test Kitchen (Chilled Lemon Souffle)

Here is another cookbook that has not been used too much here. Brian gave me this one quite awhile ago, I think just because. We were having a family get together at my parents house, and I was asked to bring dessert. We had all requested that my Mom make Indian food, and I wanted to make something light that used citrus. I happened upon this recipe, and thought it would be perfect. Perfect it was, everyone loved it! This one will be a family favorite for sure. The only change I made was using meyer lemons. I think you could use any type of citrus. The only problem with the recipe is that you can't make it the day before. I also discovered there are many other great recipes in this book, and I can't wait to try some others.

Chilled Lemon Souffle

serves 4-6

1/2 cup meyer lemon juice

2 1/2 tsps. grated zest

1 packet unflavored gelatin

1 cup whole milk (next time I will try a lower-fat milk)

3/4 cup sugar

5 large egg whites (room temp)

2 yolks (room temp)

2 ounces white chocolate

1/4 tsp. cornstarch

Pinch cream of tarter

3/4 cup heavy cream

1. Place the lemon juice in a small nonreactive bowl; sprinkle the gelatin over. Set aside.

2. Heat the milk and 1/2 cup sugar i a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming and the sugar is dissolved, about 5 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk together the yolks, 2 tablespoons sugar, and cornstarch in medium bowl until pale yellow and thickened. Whisking constantly, gradually add the hot milk to the yolks. Return the milk-egg mixture to the saucepan and cook, stirring constantly, over medium-low heat until the foam has dissipated to a thin layer and the mixture thickens to the the consistency of heavy cream and registers 185 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 4 minutes. Pour the mixture through a mesh sieve and into a medium bowl; add the white chocolate and incorporate stir in the lemon juice mixture and zest. Set the bowl with the custard in a large bowl of ice water; stir occasionally to cool.

3. While the custard mixture is chilling, in the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, beat the egg whites and cream of tartar on medium speed until foamy, about 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium-high; gradually add the remaining 2 tablespoons sugar and continue to beat until glossy and the whites hold soft peaks when the beater is lifted, about 2 minutes longer. Do not over beat. Remove the bowl containing the custard mixture from the ice water bath; gently whisk in about one third of the egg whites, then fold in the remaining whites with a large rubber spatula until almost no white streaks remain.

4. In the same mixer bowl (you do not need to wash it), using the whisk attachment, beat the cream on medium-high speed until soft peaks form when the beater is lifted, 2-3 minutes. Fold the cream into the custard and egg-white mixture until no white streaks remain.

5. Pour into a 1 1/2 quart serving bowl. Chill until set but not stiff, about 1 1/2 hours, and serve.



Thursday, March 11, 2010

Weekends with Julia ~ Potage Parmentier

It has been awhile since we have posted any of our Julia recipes or made any for that matter. We have a couple that we have been meaning to post, but just have not got around to it. So, finally I am taking the time to do just

The two recipes I have made so far have been sweet, so I decided to try something savory. Leek or Onion and Potato soup. This soup was quite good. Three of us liked it anyway. The texture was very smooth, and it had a wonderful potato flavor. It was definitely a light soup. I could see making this for lunch or Sunday night dinner. It was also very easy to make, which is a plus in my book. I made some small changes, basically to cut back on the fat. I would make this again, it was a nice light and tasty soup. I also took it to work for lunch a few times and it was great.
Potage Parmentier
3 to 4 cups peeled potatoes, sliced or diced
3 cups thinly sliced leeks, white and light green parts
2 quarts of water
1 Tbs. kosher salt
1 tbs. cream
5 tbs. 2% milk
1 tbs. butter
Simmer the vegetables, water, and salt together, partially covered for 40 to 50 minutes until the vegetables are tender. In batches puree the soup in a blender. Be careful, because hot liquids expand. I usually fill my blender half full, but like I said please be careful. Check the seasoning, add more salt if needed. Pour the soup back into the pot. Stir in the cream, milk, and butter. Serve warm. For a little something special add a small bit of butter in each individual bowl.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Harmony Valley Farm (CSA)

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to sign us up for a CSA (Community Supported agriculture). You might be wondering what that means, a CSA provides a direct relationship between consumers and the farm. Essentially you buy a "share" of the farm. Every week we will pick up two boxes one for vegetables and one for fruit. The fruit season is shorter, and is not meant to be a local share. The farm will obtain fruit from around the country at it's peak.
As you know, we are really into food around here. We are super excited to be a part of this and can't wait to get our first box, which will come in May! The kids can't wait to visit the farm. We decided to go with Harmony Valley Farms, because we thought it was a good fit for us. I liked that it was organic and that they had the fruit option as well. They provide a wide variety of vegetables, not just cucumbers and tomatoes. If you are interested about finding about more, check out their site.
This site called Local Harvest also has a lot of information about CSA, farmer's markets, and more. Have fun!


Tuesday, March 2, 2010

50 Cookbooks~ Lidia's Italian American Kitchen (Spaghetti and Meatballs)

My In-laws gave me Lidia's Italian American Kitchen written by Lidia Bastianich a number of year's ago for Christmas. This is probably one of my favorite cookbooks hands down. It is slightly worn, has a lot of notes, and recipes have been highlighted. I usually go to this book for some of our favorite recipes, Pesto, Penne a la Vodka, Pasta Putanessca etc... Our children LOVE pasta, so we usually have some variation once a week.

I love Lidia, I think she is amazing! I look forward to watching her show and I thoroughly enjoy reading her cookbooks. I read an article a while back that said she was the Julia Child of Italian cooking. The reason being, she is a teacher. I feel like Lidia has taught me so much in the kitchen, and I use a lot of her techniques.
As I was looking for a new recipe to try in this book, I thought I should try the classic spaghetti and meatballs. Although this recipe was good, it didn't WOW me like ALL of her other recipes do, so I was slightly disappointed. I have to admit I prefer my recipe for Spaghetti with Turkey meatballs. I know that it is kind of comparing apples to oranges, but I just really like the turkey meatballs, plus they are a healthier option. If you are looking for a good classic recipe for spaghetti and meatballs please try Lidia's recipe.

On another note, we are somewhat "under construction" here. I am playing around with a few new elements and trying to figure out what is the best fit for our little blog. Mr. amazing is always willing to help make our blog better, and he is much better with working with codes than I am. So, you might see a few new buttons or tabs, and then they might go away. Thank you so much for your patience, as we try to figure this all out!


Monday, March 1, 2010

I'm back

Hello Friends!

I hope you had a lovely week! I caught up on a few things that I have been wanting to get done forever. Here's what I did with my extra time:

1) Brian and I cleaned out the body of our fridge. We have to work on the doors and the freezer yet. Everytime we open it up, it feels like it is brand new!

2) I finally organized a huge stack of recipes that I had from the Internet, magazines, and catalogs. I found an old ring binder and purchased some clear sleeves. Everything went in there, and it works for now. Eventually, I want to get another binder were I put the recipes that I have tried. I would have two binders then, one with "to try" and one "tried and true."
3) I think it was in 2008 that I really got into "couponing." I had a really nice pantry built up with non-perishables and toiletries. There was a lot of money that was NOT spent on these items due to coupons. We also didn't run out of these items, because I made sure to keep the pantry stocked.
Somewhere along the line, I stopped. I know partly it was due to the fact that I wasn't buying some of the same food items, and I thought the coupons wouldn't really help. Which really doesn't make a whole lot of sense, because you can still cut your costs with coupons. I took time this week to go through the stacks of coupons that I had and clipped the ones I knew I would use. I am happy to report that I didn't spend around $20 this week. The pantry is looking good, and Brian is happy to see the shelves stocked and the money in the bank.
My favorite site for managing coupons is the COUPON MOM. The idea behind couponing is that you wait for an item to go on sale and use your coupon so you receive maximum savings. Basically what the site does is tell you what is on sale at the store you shop at, and what flyer the coupon is in. It does most work for you, all you have to do is clip the coupons. The Coupon Mom is a free site. She emphasizes giving to charity, so she states her site will always be free to users. I also like to go to TARGET'S website, they have coupons you can print out. You can also use a manufacturer's coupon and a Target coupon for the same item. This can be a really great deal! I know there are a lot of sites out there. Is there a favorite site you have? Do you use coupons? I would love to hear your thoughts on this!!!

Happy Monday!
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