Thanksgiving Remix: The Food

Here is a photo tour of our tasty Thanksgiving dinner:

Not eaten. Just for show.

My Nannie’s apple pie. My Mom did great, although I’m pretty sure my Nannie would have suggested more cinnamon. πŸ™‚

Classy Canned Cranberry.

The turkey (not the one from the picture above)

Mountain of marshmallows on sweet potatoes.

Cranberry sauce and marinated asparagus.

A family tradition…ambrosia. Do you do ambrosia? It’s whipped cream, fruit cocktail, and marshmallows. Big hit with the boys.

My Mom checking on the food. Probably about to add a stick of butter to something. πŸ™‚

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Dark and White Chocolate Chip Cookies

These were a bit of a happy accident:

And a huge hit at Thanksgiving! Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

3/4 cup Dutch Process Special Dark Cocoa (I use the Hershey’s brand)

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar

1 cup dark brown sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 1/2 cups white chocolate chips (more or less depending on how many chips you want in there)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a cookie sheet with a Silpat mat or parchment paper.

2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa. Set aside.

3. On medium speed cream butter and sugars together (using a mixer) until smooth (about three minutes). Add eggs in one at a time. Add in vanilla extract. Mix until blended.

4. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture and mix until flour disappears. Stir in chocolate chips. Drop cookie dough by rounded tablespoon fulls onto prepared baking sheet, about 1 inch apart.

5. Bake cookies for 8 minutes, or until the cookies are set around the edges, but still soft in the center (don’t over bake!). Remove from oven and let sit on baking sheet for 2-3 minutes. Move to a cooling rack and cool completely. Store in an air tight container.

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Feel Better Biscuits

This past week has been a bit of whirl. J continued to cough through the night until Thursday, and by Wednesday and Thursday night respectively my husband and I both had the same sinus infection that J had. It has taken us a couple days to get straightened out, however, the true miracle is that Super A stayed well. I didn’t even think that was possible. If this had been a year ago I would probably have been on our second or third trip to get antibiotics for A for his ears.

By the time Friday rolled around it was a pretty day and after the boys and I played outside for quite a bit, I let A help me make what we now refer to as “Feel Better Biscuits”. I had seen this recipe earlier in the week and knew it would be a hit with A because: 1. it uses a food processor and 2. it tells you the exact amount of times to pulse the ingredients. Which A indeed loved. I think his favorite part was getting to use a no blade butter knife to help me cut the butter into squares.

I have to say, I don’t usually make decent biscuits, however, these came out great and may be the best biscuits I have ever made or eaten. Definitely follow the instructions to eat them warm right out of the oven. They will make you smile, and maybe make you feel better!

A’s favorite kitchen gadget (used only with adult supervision of course):

Sometimes I wonder if when he gets older he will ask for kitchen gadgets.

Our pretty little drop biscuits, which A helped me roll (quickly):

Thankfully he waited to do this until after we had rolled all the biscuits:

He loves testing everything…ever since he was little I have always given him little test tastes of things he could have…his number one favorite is still brown sugar. But whose isn’t?

And this one:

Is mimicking his brother. Such a ham.

So here are the lovely finished product (on my not so lovely pan…):

And here is A enjoying his biscuit:

Love him.

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One Pot Meal: Sausage and Rice

My husband received this recipe from a co-worker. I like it because it is a one-pot meal that makes a good amount of leftovers, that my husband actually eats!

Ingredients:

Sausage, carrots, celery, onion, chicken stock, bell pepper, rice

You’ll have to excuse my less than stellar photographs, I was trying to make the recipe quickly (and take a few photos) before my helper stopped smiling:

And before I ran out of puffs for him to snack on.

So here is your actual ingredient list and recipe!

Ingredients

1 pound of sausage, browned and crumbled
1 cup of diced onion1.5 cups of rice
1 cup of diced bell pepper
1 cup of diced celery
1 cup of sliced carrots (we usually put more because they are very good in it)

1.5 cups of white rice

3-4 cups of chicken stock

Recipe:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees

In a large dutch oven:
Pour in 1.5 cups of uncooked rice
Add the vegetables on top of the rice
Add the sausage on top of the vegetables (don’t stir!) Slowly pour 3 cups of chicken broth over the entire mixture

Place the lid on it and cook it in the oven on 375 for about an hour After an hour, check it to see how much liquid remains If there’s a lot of liquid, let it cook for another 10-15 minutes When there’s little to no liquid, stir it and place it back in the oven for 5 minutes uncovered.

And voila!

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Five Minute Lunch

I tend to run out of ideas for lunch when I am home with J. This is SO easy, I almost feel ridiculous posting it…however, that’s not stopping me! Here is a quick five minute lunch.

All you need is:

Baby spinach, an apple, feta cheese, couscous

Follow the directions on the couscous package to cook 1/3 cup of couscous (or the smallest serving…trust me it will be enough!). Once the water is boiling put the couscous in the pot, plus 1/4-1/3 cup baby spinach then put the lid on the top. The spinach will wilt in the five minutes the couscous has to set. While it is setting, dice up an apple. Once the couscous is done, toss in the diced apple, a few tablespoons of feta cheese, and fluff together. And voila!

Quick and simple…totally filling too!

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Weekly Meal Plan Centered Around the Sweet Potato

So after completing Barbara Kingsolver’s book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle, the question I had lingering was: can you eat a single vegetable multiple times over the course of the week and not get tired of it? I plan to test out this experiment this week with the sweet potato for four days this week.

Sunday: Smoked chicken (from our new smoker my husband purchased with his birthday money), mashed sweet potatoes, and left-over Caesar salad from A’s birthday

Monday: Sweet potato and refried bean burritos (loosely based on this Real Simple recipe or this recipe), Mexican rice, Tangerines (The refried beans are from this Pioneer Woman Spicy Bean Soup recipe that I made, portioned out, and froze. I used one portion de-frosted and blended)

Tuesday: Spaghetti and french bread

Wednesday: Black bean and sweet potato turkey chili from Our Best Bites, and cornbread.

Thursday: Chicken nuggets, green beans, sweet potato french fries, apples

Friday: Pumpkin manicotti, except I’m substituting sweet potato…we’ll see how that turns out! I’m also trying it as a make ahead dish.

Saturday: Sorry no sweet potatoes today. It’s my Mom’s birthday party and we are celebrating with our traditional Mostaccioli recipe, yummy bread, and salad of some sort. HA! Help find us a salad to make!

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Chicky Chicky Parm Parm

One of my favorite quotes from Tom on Parks and Recreation: “Zerts are what I call deserts, tray trays are what I call entrees, sandwiches are sammies, sandoozles or Adam Sandlers, air conditioners are cool blaterz with a “z” … I don’t know where that came from. I call cakes big ol’ cookies….fried chicken is fry fry chicky chick, chicken parmesan is chicky chicky parm parm, chicken caciatore is chicky catch, I call eggs pre-birds or future birds, root beer is super water, tortillas are bean blankets, and I call forks… food rakes!”

Chicken Parmesan is one of my husband’s favorite dishes. I don’t make it that often, but honestly with the ease of making it I’m not sure why I don’t. This also used to be our Christmas Eve meal for a while, which is how I learned to make it from putting it together with my Mom. I feel like it is more of a “method” recipe, once you know the method, you don’t really need a recipe to put it together, but here is what I do!

Chicken Parmesan (Makes two large servings…can easily be doubled)

Ingredients:

For the chicken:

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts

1/4 cup bread crumbs

1 egg

1 tbs of fresh rosemary and thyme (if you don’t have those fresh you can use 1/2 tbs of dried rosemary and 1 tsp of ground thyme)

Salt and pepper

Parmesan cheese

2 medium to large slices of mozzarella cheese

Extra Virgin Olive Oil

For the sides (discussed at the bottom)

1 container of baby leaf spinach

1 tbs of butter

Extra virgin olive oil

Balsamic vinegar

Salt

1/2 pound angel hair pasta

Marinara sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Heat 1-2 tbs of olive oil in a large skillet on medium-high heat.

Place chicken breasts in a gallon size zip bag and seal tightly, pushing out air as you seal. Pound chicken breasts until 1/4 inch or less thickness (the thinner they are the faster they cook, but you don’t want to re-kill the bird if you know what I’m saying), I use a rolling pin to pound them, but you can use a heavy bottom skillet.

Place the egg in a shallow bowl (large enough to fit the chicken) and whisk egg. Combine the bread crumbs, rosemary, thyme, and 1 tsp of salt, and 1/2 tsp of pepper (approximate) in another shallow bowl. After you have flattened your chicken breasts, place each first in the egg coating both sides (let the excess drip off a bit over that bowl), then place in the bread crumbs coating both sides. Then put the coated chicken breasts in the heated skillet for about one minute per side.

Transfer the browned chicken breasts onto a oven proof baking pan (I line it with reyonld’s wrap non stick foil). It should look like this:

Then you add about 1 tbs of shredded parmesan cheese per piece of chicken and one slice of mozzarella on each piece of chicken. Place in oven and bake for five minutes. Check the temp of the chicken (it should be 180 degrees), but it should be perfect!

Sides:

Having a tasty Parmesan chicken in part involves the pasta and sauce and sides that go with it. We went super simple with this part. We boiled Angel hair pasta according to package directions (if you get the water boiling ahead, add SALT, and then start the pasta at the same time you put the chicken in the oven it should all be ready at the same time), and then heated a bottled marinara sauce to go with it (we tried Bertoli’s Vineyard Marinara with Burgundy Wine Sauce and it was tasty).

I also cleaned out the pan that we cooked the chicken in, and turned the heat back on to low on the burner I had used before. I melted 1 tbs of butter and just a tad of olive oil, then threw in about two to three cups of spinach, 1/4 cup of water, and stuck a lid on it for about four minutes. It wilted the spinach perfectly and then I added about 1 tbs of balsamic vinegar after turning the heat off and tossing the spinach.

And tada:

Chicken Parmesan! or be hip like Tom and call it Chicky Chicky Parm Parm.

 

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One Bad Banana

Happy Monday! It was certainly a happy Monday for us because J finally slept all night from 7:00 p.m.-5:45 a.m. That hasn’t happened in about a week, so I feel very much refreshed today!

Upon seeing these bad boys on Friday:

I decided to make banana bread. I collected the ingredients. Realized I didn’t have brown sugar. Eggs. Oh and the bananas were molded when I picked them up. Doh. I’m going to attempt again this week with new bananas…I’ll let you know how it turns out! (Oh and ultimate confession: I don’t like banana bread, but my husband and A do so that’s who I make it for). I’m planning to use the Caramelized Banana Bread recipe from Our Best Bites. It looks so good I may have to try it.

One of our sweet couple friends invited us over for dinner a few weeks ago. We had a great time playing, and did I mention they are about to have their first boy! I am so excited she is joining the boy club with me…their little girl is one of A’s BFFs. πŸ™‚ While at dinner, they offered to loan us a puzzle to complete. So we ended up doing a puzzle swap with them. My husband and I have a colorful doughnut puzzle to complete and I gave them this:

Mwahaha. It’s almost a little wrong don’t you think? Sooo many gray pieces.

Isn’t a puzzle swap a great idea? Doesn’t it make you want to search out through your collection of puzzles and see who you can swap with? I feel like my parents have one that my Uncle did one year that is missing one piece…not that I would swap that one…or would I? Obviously I shouldn’t be allowed to puzzle swap. HA!

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On Making Focaccia Bread at Home

For the past few weeks whenever we have gone grocery shopping my husband has searched for focaccia bread. We have had no luck at several stores and then upon watching The Pioneer Woman on Saturday Morning J Baby and I eagerly watched her make focaccia bread and I thought, aha! We can do this! So for our Sunday night supper we made chopped salad and focaccia bread.

So here is our story on making focaccia bread:

A and I first added the yeast to the warm water:

Then you have to wait about ten minutes.

You may wonder what you can do in ten minutes…besides mixing the salt, flour, and olive oil of course.

Well you could:

Break dance in the kitchen.

Or pull all the alpha letters off the fridge and taste them.

Then you mix the yeast combination with the flour combination (per the Pioneer Woman’s much better explanation on her site) and put it all in a bowl:

At which point A always says this about dough making “that’s not bread, Mommy”.

Then you let it rise for the allotted time…and you know:

Purchase turnips on Animal Crossing. Oh that’s not what you do every Sunday before noon?

Then you come back and tada:

“Still doesn’t look like bread” says A.

So then after finishing up the pre-baking instructions, and a bit more time you finally put it in the oven and your house smells wonderful!

Isn’t this fabulous? And it was so tasty. We made ours with just rosemary and a bit of kosher salt. “BREAD!” A exclaimed at this point. He is my son after all.

And here are our chopped salads to go with it:

You can find the recipes for the focaccia bread and the chopped salad on The Pioneer Woman’s website.

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Pancakes and Bacon: Keeping it Real

So a few thoughts on a Monday afternoon.

J woke up at 5:30 again this morning. I thought “that’s it, I’m just going to get up and start running with J in the stroller”, as I have been thinking about ever since J started waking up at 5 and 5:30. Then J fell back asleep and it started pouring down rain. Now if that isn’t a sign from God telling me to go straight back to bed, I don’t know what it is. HA!

I finally found the six pairs of work pants I had been missing since I stowed them away during my pregnancy with J. They were in the attic in a box marked “swim suits”. Many people think I am super organized. Do not be fooled.

The recipe I shared last week for chicken curry in a crock pot turned out fabulously!

I highly suggest having it on the biscuits, yum.

A had his first soccer game this weekend! It was hilarious, this picture sums up his stance during the game:

At one point he stormed off and said “well if they keep taking the ball, I’m just not playing!” I’m not foreseeing a bend it like Beckham future.

I’m making pork chops and rice tonight for dinner. In the tradition of my sister and I’s Monday conversations: “what are you having for dinner?”

Oh and our current Sunday night dinner? Pancakes and bacon.

My husband makes pancakes from a box. And I can say with great confidence they are the best pancakes I have ever had. I’m not sure how he does it, but I’m not trying to learn. I’m happy with him making them. Happy Monday!

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