Monday, November 30, 2009

Gingerbread Stars

Jacob has recently become aware of the star shape. He finds stars everywhere and points to them waiting for me to call their name.
My mom suggested that I make him star shaped cookies. I am always eager for any excuse to make cookies, so I was very excited about the idea.
I made a variation of a recipe for gingerbread men cookies I found in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook. These were really good and they made our house smell like a life-sized gingerbread house. Jacob did not take the cookie away from his mouth while he ate it. He just kept chomping until it was gone. I think he noticed they were in the shape of stars, but , once he tasted them, he didn't care what shape they were.


2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup whole wheat flour
1 1/2 teasp baking soda
1/4 teasp salt
1 1/4 teasp ground cinnamon
1 1/4 teasp ground ginger
1 1/4 teasp ground allspice
1/4 teasp ground cloves
2 sticks unsalted butter, room temp
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup unsulfured molasses

In a large bowl, whisk together flours, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, ground ginger, allspice, and cloves. Set aside.
In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat butter and sugars together on medium until light and fluffy. Beat in egg and molasses. With mixer on low, gradually add the flour mixture, beating until just incorporated. Turn out the dough onto a clean work surface. Divide in half, and shape into flattened disks. Wrap each in plastic and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Remove dough from refrigerator and let stand until slightly softened. On a large piece of parchment lightly dusted with flour, roll out dough to about 1/4" thick. Place parchment paper and dough on a baking sheet and freeze until very firm, about 15 minutes.
Remove dough from freezer. Working quickly, cut out dough with cookie cutters. Transfer cutouts to prepared baking sheets.
Bake until cookies are crisp but not darkened, 12-15 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Cheddar Cheese and Broccoli Soup

Jacob has not been eating much recently. I thought he might not be enjoying the Thanksgiving leftovers. So, I decided to make something new for dinner using ingredients we had on hand.
I found a recipe for soup in The Family Circle Cookbook.

The soup was really cheesy. According to the cookbook, melting the cheese slowly over low heat helps prevent lumps of cheese from forming. In the past, I have occasionally had this problem, but I took the book's advice and this soup turned out smooth and creamy.

Art said he would have gladly paid $9 for this soup and sandwich at McAlister's. (Art is known to hate McAlister's Deli for being overpriced. He calls it "home of the $9 sandwich.") Jacob would not even try it, so maybe he really is just not hungry. A mom has to keep trying, though.

3 Tablespoons butter
1/2 lb broccoli flowerets, cut
1 clove garlic, crushed
3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
4 cups milk
3 cups shredded Cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper

Melt butter in heavy, medium sized saucepan over medium heat. Add broccoli and garlic; saute, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Gradually blend in flour; cook, stirring constantly, 3-5 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Gradually stir 1 cup milk and the shredded cheese; cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and smooth.
Stir in remaining milk, mustard, salt, and pepper. Gently heat, stirring occasionally, until soup is hot. Remove garlic before serving. Garnish with shredded cheese, if you wish. (I did not do this since the soup already contains 3 cups of cheese!)

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Spice-Cured Turkey

Thanksgiving came and went so fast. Our families have returned to their own homes, and we are left here with fewer leftovers than I would have expected.

We had such a good time hosting our family and friends here for supper on Thanksgiving. I have never before hosted a holiday. Having both of our families in one place was really nice! Not having to load up and drive to Birmingham was also really nice!

Having a lot of help made the preparations low-stress. In addition to various appetizers, we had turkey, chicken and dressing, homemade cranberry sauce, broccoli and carrots, pineapple casserole, scalloped potatoes, pumpkin pie, and apple pie.

The spice-cured turkey was a big hit. This was my third time to make this recipe. The turkey has always turned out moist and full of flavor.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Deep In the Heart of Texas

Art had a conference in San Antonio this weekend. Jacob and I tagged along. While Art was conferencing, Jacob and I saw the sights and ate.

A few of our favorite sights were The Alamo, The San Antonio Children's Museum, and the fountains of Main Plaza.

Over the long weekend, we only ate at a restaurant one time- for the other meals we either got take out or ate breakfast at the hotel. My favorites were guacamole at Acenar, cheese enchiladas at Blanco Cafe, and a milk shake from Milam Diner.

Art and I have traveled somewhat extensively with Jacob. Taking Jacob new places is a lot of fun. But, it can be a challenge. Here are some things we have learned that have made our travels less stressful:
1. A portable dvd player is a life-saver. Use it in the car or on a plane- I've even heard of people setting them up in restaurants.
2. Be prepared for in-transit time to take longer than it would otherwise take without kids. Frequent stops in the car help alleviate some grumping. Getting through airport security is already a hassle. Add a small child, car seat, stroller, and diaper bag to the process and it becomes a nightmare. And, airport security will surely search you and your child. So, plan to arrive at the airport early.
3. Airlines will let passengers traveling with small children carry-on more than regular passengers. Take advantage of this and carry-on plenty of diapers, snacks, toys, and drinks. If you are delayed, you will be glad to have all that stuff with you.
4. Be prepared to do less than you originally planed to do. Kids move slowly and require lots of snacks and naps.
5. Try to stay close to the action. Pick a hotel within walking distance of most things you plan to do. Then, running back to your room for a quick nap in between activities is not a big deal.
6. Try to find a hotel that offers suites. Having a second room to close off makes a huge difference in naps and night time sleep. A few hotels we have found that offer reasonably priced suites are Residence Inn, Hawthorne Suites, Homewood Suites, and SpringHill Suites.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Potato and Feta Cheese Nuggets; Thanksgiving Experiment

Since I bought a huge container of feta at Sam's for last night's Spanakopita, I searched the internet for recipes containing feta. I mostly found Greek Salad recipes. But, I had all the ingredients for a recipe for Potato and Feta Mouthfuls, and I thought Jacob might eat it- he still lacks the chewing skills necessary for salad.

The potato and feta mouthfuls were okay. We decided they were missing something- possibly a sauce. We tried them with Dijon mustard, but that didn't help very much. Ranch dressing probably would have been good.

I also made a recipe of broccoli and carrots that I wanted to test as a possible Thanksgiving option. I had been looking for a vegetable that could be cooked on the stove. This recipe fit that description. And, the description in the cookbook promised that it would be "abundant in color as well as flavor." The book also noted the dish could be made a day ahead and reheated in the microwave for 2-3 minutes. This was very enticing.

I found the recipe in Treebeard's Cookbook. Treebeard's is a restaurant in Houston that serves Southern food. I have never been there, but I would love to go- everything I've tried in their cookbook has been delicious. (A friend from Houston gave me this cookbook several years ago.)

The broccoli and carrots had a nice flavor. Art and Jacob both really enjoyed the dish. I think I have found a side to serve on Thanksgiving!

3lb broccoli, cut in florets
1 stick unsalted butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
2 teaspoons fresh minced garlic
2lb carrots, cut in circles
1 1/2 teaspoons dill seeds
2 teaspoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Blanch broccoli in boiling water for 3 minutes. Drain and refresh under cold running water. Drain and set aside.
In a large skillet, melt 1 Tablespoon butter in the oil over moderately high heat. Add garlic. Stir in carrots, dill seeds, sugar, salt and 1/2 teaspoon of the pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, until the carrots are well browned and caramelized, about 15 minutes. Transfer the carrots to a casserole dish and cover.
Add the remaining 7 Tablespoons butter and 1/2 teaspoon pepper to the skillet and cook over high heat until the butter is fragrant and a deep nutty brown, about 5 minutes. Add the broccoli florets and toss to coat. Add the broccoli to the carrots and mix.
Serves 6-8.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Greek food is one of my favorite types of cuisines. I especially enjoy anything involving feta cheese.
Tonight, I made quick spanakopita. This is a spinach and feta filled Greek pastry. The recipe only takes about fifteen or twenty minutes to put together.
I only used half the butter called for in this recipe. I also omitted the parsley (the parsley I bought yesterday was either left at the store or somewhere in my car).
The flaky phillo crust was crispy and the spinach filling was cheesy. Art and I really enjoyed having this for dinner. Jacob tried three bites and was obviously not impressed.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Fennel with Parmesan

I hate wasting food. I was raised to believe that by wasting food, I was personally hurting a starving child in China.
Feeding a finicky toddler has created a lot of wasted food. Even still, I have done everything in my power to avoid throwing away food.
I bought some fennel to use in a seemingly labor intensive potato dish that I never got around to making. Instead of tossing the fennel, I searched my recipes for a simple way to use it. I came across a recipe for Braised Fennel with Parmesan in The Family Circle Cookbook published in 1992 by Simon and Schuster.
The dish was interesting, but not something I plan to make again anytime soon.

2 large fennel bulbs
1 cup chicken broth
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 Tablespoon butter

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease a 9" round baking dish.
Cut off fennel stalks. Halve fennel bulbs lengthwise. Remove core. Cut each half into 3 wedges.
Lay fennel wedges in prepared dish. Pour chicken broth over. Sprinkle with pepper. Cover with foil.
Bake for 45 minutes or until fennel is tender. Remove from oven.
Preheat broiler. Uncover fennel and sprinkle with Parmesan. Dot with butter.
Broil 2" from heat until top is browned, about 4 minutes.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Pinto Beans and Cornbread

We had a fun trip to St Louis over the weekend. We were able to have frozen custard from Ted Drewe's for the first time since our move from St Louis over three years ago. I had forgotten how good it is!
Also over the weekend, I learned something new about Jacob- he loves beans. We just happened to have them at two meals and he ate a ton of them.
So, tonight I cooked pinto beans and corn bread. I cooked the beans according to the package directions, and I added a couple of chicken bones, salt, pepper, and chili powder. I made my Ma-maw's corn bread recipe that is listed in a previous post.
Jacob has had beans in the past and did not love them. Because of his recent interest, I have been encouraged to keep reintroducing foods. He might not love beans next week, but maybe he will love tuna salad, or some other food on which I had previously given up.

Friday, November 13, 2009

White Chocolate Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies

We are in St Louis to visit friends this weekend. I really like to bring an edible treat of some sort whenever we visit.
I adapted a recipe for cranberry oatmeal cookies listed on I substituted whole wheat flour and added vanilla. I also added some flax seeds based on my enjoyment of Kashi's Oatmeal Raisin Flax cookies.
Flax seeds add a little texture and no real flavor. They are high in fiber. I hardly noticed them in these cookies.
These cookies turned out soft and delicious. I had a hard time saving enough to take to St Louis.
2/3 cup butter, softened
2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup all purpose flour
1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 Tablespoons flax seeds
1 1/4 cups dried cranberries
2/3 cup chopped white chocolate

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease cookie sheets.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter and brown sugar. Stir in eggs, one at a time. Stir in vanilla.
In a separate bowl, combine oats, flours, salt, and baking soda. Stir into butter mixture one cup at a time until combined.
Stir in flax seeds. Stir in cranberries and white chocolate.
Drop by rounded tablespoons onto prepared pans. Bake 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire racks.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Moroccan Chicken and Tantrum Worthy Asparagus

My dad was in town for business and was able to have dinner with us tonight. I made a chicken recipe that I discovered in Martha Stewart's Living. I have prepared this chicken many times in the past several months. The preparation is so simple and the result is amazing.

Some of the spices called for in the recipe- like cardamom or coriander- are probably not ones you keep in your cabinet. Trust me and buy them. You will make this recipe so many times, the spices will not go to waste.

I also made an asparagus recipe sent to me by my sister-in-law, Jenny. I have never before made asparagus and I found this recipe very simple.

After sampling a little of each item on the dinner menu, Jacob started kicking and screaming. He wanted something badly. I went through all of the usual suspects- his cup, my cup, various utensils. None of those things were what he so desperately wanted. Then, we figured it out: he wanted more asparagus! My toddler was kicking and screaming for more asparagus. He ate all of the asparagus on my plate and what was left in the bowl. I will definitely be making this again.

olive oil
grated Parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Toss asparagus with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Spread on a greased pan. Bake 15 minutes, or until tender. Transfer to a cutting board and cut into bite sized pieces. Sprinkle with Parmesan. Return to pan and bake 5 more minutes. Serve hot.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Egg Rolls

My mom has made egg rolls for years. When I was beginning to eat solid foods, she would feed me the filling. She got her recipe from the Birmingham News.
Now I love to make homemade egg rolls for my family as a special treat. I have modified the recipe a bit.
These are so easy and yummy. They are much better than take-out egg rolls.

1/4 small onion, diced
1 package coleslaw mix
2 carrots, shredded
1 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
1 lb ground pork or chicken
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
2 Tablespoons corn starch
4 Tablespoons vegetable oil, for frying
3 cups vegetable oil, for frying
1 package egg roll wraps (Keep covered with a damp paper towel to keep them from drying out.)

Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium heat. Stir in onion, coleslaw mix, and salt. Cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables are tender, about 10 minutes. Drain.
In a medium bowl, combine 1 teaspoon oil, ground meat, soy sauce, and cornstarch.
Heat 2 Tablespoons oil in a skillet over medium high heat. Stir in meat mixture and cook, stirring, until cooked through.
Stir together meat with vegetables.
Heat 3 cups vegetable oil over medium heat.
Place 3 Tablespoons stuffing on an egg roll wrap. Wrap to close, dampening edges of wrap with a little water to make them stick.
Fry egg rolls in hot oil until brown. Flip and brown on other side. Drain on paper towels.
Serve hot with mustard, sweet and sour sauce, and chili sauce.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Ideas for Your Christmas List

My family is already asking for Christmas wish lists. I have such a hard time coming up with stuff to put on mine every year.
In order to help any home chefs with Christmas list writer's block, I have compiled a list of kitchen items I own and use constantly. Feel free to add them to your list this year. And, if you love something I did not include, please let me know so I may add it to my wish list.
Note: Unless specified, the links are to items similar to mine and not necessarily what I own.

Cast Iron Skillet- The one I have is not fancy. It is perfectly seasoned and great for so many uses.
Small Cutting Board- I love that my small cutting board does not hog a lot of counter space and fits in the dishwasher.
Garlic Press- The Pampered Chef garlic press is so easy to use- I don't even peel the garlic.
Pyrex Storage Set- Cooking enough food to have left overs is a big time saver. And, unlike plastic storage containers, glass containers are oven and microwave safe, enabling quick reheating.
KitchenAid 6qt Stand Mixer- This powerful machine makes quick work of mixing. I love the dough hook attachment- it does all the kneading so I don't have to. I was able to find a refurbished model on amazon at a substantial discount. It has worked great for several years.
Oster 10-speed Blender- We received this blender as a wedding gift over six years ago. It has seen a lot of use and still works great. Recently, Jacob broke the glass pitcher. I was reluctant to get a new blender, and was so excited when I found a replacement pitcher at a yard sale. Lesson: Do not let young children play with glass pitchers.
Wooden spoons- Wooden Spoons are great because they won't scratch the non-stick surface of pots and pans. Jacob chews on one when he is teething. And, I am told they make great paddles.
Stoneware- I have mentioned before how much I love baking on stoneware. Like cast iron, a stone becomes seasoned with use and eventually requires little or no grease. Things always cook evenly on a stone. I also have a stoneware bundt pan that I use when making bundt cakes. They always release perfectly from the stone and have a nice outer crust.
Box Grater- We eat a lot of cheese. Several years ago, I was sick of my plane grater and purchased a metal box grater. It is easy to use, versatile, and convenient. It has sides for large and small grates and a side for slicing. And, it is dishwasher safe.
Ice Cream Dipper- We also eat a lot of ice cream. Look no more for the perfect scoop. Pampered Chef makes it. This tool makes scooping hard ice cream easy.
POP Storage Containers
- These storage containers hold an entire 5lb bag of flour. I always transfer the contents of bags of flour or sugar to one of these containers. The contents stay fresh and are easily accessible.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Take Out

My friend Lindsey was in town for business and was able to have dinner with me tonight.

I've mentioned before that we usually invite visitors to the house instead of taking them out to eat. It's much easier with Jacob. Since Lindsey was on an expense account, I thought she would rather eat at a nice restaurant than eat my cooking at home. (I was once a traveling business woman on an expense account and I remember how these things work.)

Back when I was initially planning our evening, I thought Art and Jacob would stay at home while Lindsey and I would go to Houston's. We would take our time catching up over a long, leisurely dinner.

The only problem was that Art had a work dinner, which meant that Jacob would spend the evening with us. I knew that with Jacob in tow dinner would be anything but leisurely. To solve this problem, I decided we would order dinner to go at the bar. Then, we could enjoy Houston's food at home.

This was a great solution! We received our food quickly and took it back to my house. Jacob ate one bite of my chicken and then had an immediate need to go to bed. After I read him a story and laid him down, Lindsey and I were able to spend the evening catching up. Takeout allowed us to have our long and leisurely dinner without the pressure that comes with taking a fifteen-month-old to a nice restaurant.

Sunday, November 8, 2009


Today, I returned home from my short visit to Houston. Other than being very sick on Saturday- possibly food poisoning or just horrible morning sickness- I had a great time. I was glad to see Art and Jacob. I was also glad to see they had eaten all the chili.

I wasn't feeling up to a trip to the store, so I needed to make dinner from what we already had. We are almost always well stocked with ingredients for spaghetti. I always make my own sauce. It is easy and versatile. By now, you have probably guessed that we purchase onions, olive oil, and canned tomato products in bulk. I use them all the time!

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz tomato paste
15 oz diced tomatoes
15oz tomato sauce
bay leaf
crushed red pepper and black pepper, to taste
whole wheat spaghetti
Parmesan cheese
Feta cheese
1/4 cup diced turkey pepperoni

Heat oil in a pot over medium high. Add onion and cook until golden, 8 minutes. Stir in garlic. Stir in tomato paste, cook 2-3 minutes. Stir in diced tomatoes, sauce, bay leaf, and seasonings. Reduce heat to medium low. Simmer, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to package directions. Drain and toss with enough sauce to coat.

Cooking Tip: Always stir sauce with pasta immediately after cooking so the pasta will bond with and absorb the maximum amount of flavor from the sauce. (This is a tip I learned from the executive chef on our Princess cruise to Mexico. It really makes a difference.)

Stir in cheeses and pepperoni. (Feta and pepperoni are not usually included in our spaghetti, but I thought I might as well use them since we had them on hand.)
Art and Jacob really liked the meal. I was still feeling a bit queasy, so I ate some pasta with no sauce.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Chili, Cornbread, and Pie

I'm going to Houston this afternoon. I will be leaving Art and Jacob to fend for themselves for the weekend. Since I don't want Jacob to eat Taco Bell for every meal, I have made some chili, cornbread, and pie.

Crock pot Chili
1/2 lb dried pinto beans, cooked according to package directions and drained (I cooked them with the bone from the pork butt I made last week.)
1lb lean ground beef, browned with a chopped onion, salt, pepper, and 3 garlic cloves, then drained
1 lb chicken sausage, fully cooked and diced
28oz diced tomatoes
2 15oz cans tomato sauce
1 cup chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon chili powder
dash cayenne pepper

Combine all ingredients in a crock pot. Cook until bubbling and warm.

Cornbread- This is a variation of my Great-Grandmother's recipe. My mom has made it for years and has recently created this healthier variation by omitting bacon grease and using mayo with olive oil.
olive oil for greasing skillet
1 1/2 cups cornmeal (stone-ground is preferable)
1/2 cup all purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 heaping teaspoon baking powder
1 heaping teaspoon baking soda
1 egg
1 1/2 Tablespoons mayonnaise
1/2 quart buttermilk

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 9" cast iron skillet with olive oil. (If you do not own a cast iron skillet, you could use a cake pan.)
Combine dry ingredients in a medium bowl.
In another bowl, combine egg and mayo. Stir into dry ingredients. Gradually stir in buttermilk just until mixture is combined. Pour into prepared skillet. Bake 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

I also made a pear butterscotch pie from a recipe I found in Gourmet magazine. Art's coworker gave us some home-grown pears that were perfect for this use. The butterscotch is created by brown sugar melting with pear juices. A warm slice with some vanilla ice cream is delicious! This pie is almost as hard to leave as my boys. I'm sure they will take good care of it for me.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Chicken Noodle Soup and Popsicles

Jacob has not been feeling well. He received six immunization shots at the doctor this week and they are taking a toll on his little body.
So, I did what any good mother would do and fed him chicken noodle soup and Popsicles. We all liked both, but Jacob especially enjoyed the Popsicle. He pitched a fit when he realized there was none left.


all natural fruit bars from the store

Chicken Noodle Soup


Chicken and Broth:
8 cups water
2 carrots, cut into large pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into large pieces
1 small onion, quartered
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1" piece ginger root
juice of half a lemon
2 lb chicken, bone and skin intact (I used drumsticks)

Place all ingredients except chicken in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil over high heat. Add chicken and simmer about 30 minutes.
Remove chicken and let cool until warm enough to handle. Remove skin and bone. Chop chicken into bite sized pieces.
Strain vegetables from broth. Discard vegetables and return broth to pot.

8 cups chicken broth
2 carrots, diced
2 celery stalks, diced
1 small onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 package whole wheat egg noodles
chopped, cooked chicken
seasoned salt

Bring broth to a boil over high heat. Stir in carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Boil about 10 minutes, or until veggies are tender. Stir in noodles and chicken. Cook until noodles are al dente, about 8 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper, and seasoned salt.

Pasta with Lamb, Parsnips, Cinnamon, and Feta

Last night for dinner, I made a recipe I saw in the "Fast, Easy, Fresh" section of Bon Appetit. The pasta came together quickly and needed no accompaniments.

Greek-Style Penne with Lamb, Parsnips, Tomatoes, and Cinnamon
November 2009


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 very large onion, halved through root end, cut lengthwise into 1/3-inch-thick slices (about 4 cups)
  • 12 ounces medium parsnips (about 4), peeled, cut on slight diagonal into 1/4-inch-thick slices
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 8 ounces ground lamb
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 2 14 1/2-ounce cans diced tomatoes in juice
  • 12 ounces penne
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • Crumbled feta cheese

  • Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add onion and parsnips and sauté until slightly softened and deep golden brown around edges, about 9 minutes. Add garlic; stir 1 minute. Add lamb and sauté until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon, about 2 minutes. Stir in cinnamon. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Add tomatoes with juice; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer until parsnips are tender, about 12 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.

I had never before worked with lamb or parsnips. I enjoyed the lamb- it was tasty and easy to prepare. I was not so fond of the parsnips- the prep time was relatively high and their taste contribution to the dish was not worth the trouble (although, I'm sure the nutritional benefits were).

I thought the cinnamon gave an interesting flavor and aroma to the dish. Art thought it was odd. Jacob was in bed before dinner was ready, so we will have to wait until leftovers tonight for his opinion.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Broccoli Cheese Soup

Several weeks ago, when I had a bumper crop of broccoli, I was searching for a broccoli cheese soup recipe. A cheesy, creamy soup, that was still somewhat healthy was desired. The recipes I found included ingredients I generally avoid (e.g. processed cheese) or, ingredients that I do not think should be in broccoli cheese soup (cream of mushroom soup).

Then, Betsy, my sister-in-law, sent me the recipe for which I had been searching. I no longer had all that broccoli, but buying more for this recipe was worth a trip to the store.

I changed the recipe up a bit. This soup was the perfect combination of creamy and cheesy. It really tasted more like a potato cheddar soup with some broccoli.

Jacob and I both enjoyed this soup for lunch today.

3 new potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
2 celery stalks, peeled and diced
1 cup water
1 small head of broccoli, chopped
1/4 teaspoon dried sage
dash celery seeds
1 cup milk
1/3 cup all purpose flour
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Add potatoes, onion, carrots, celery, and water to a pot and cook over medium high heat for about 5 minutes.
Add broccoli to pot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally, about 10 minutes, or until potatoes are tender.
Stir in sage and celery seeds.
Combine milk and flour in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Stir into soup and cook until thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add cheese to soup and stir until melted.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Oatmeal Bread and a Date

Tonight, Art and I are going out to dinner without Jacob. While Jacob is hanging out with the babysitter (or, sleeping), Art and I will be enjoying a relaxing meal at Tsunami cooked by Not Me and having an adult conversation. (This restaurant is amazing. If you are in Memphis, you should make a point to go. I love everything I have tried, but the ginger doughnuts with coconut gelato are especially dear to my heart.)

Eeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee! I can't wait!

Earlier today, while daydreaming about tasting every last bite of dinner, I made oatmeal bread. My mom gave me this recipe.

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup honey or molasses
2 teaspoons salt
2 cups boiling water
Combine all ingredients. Stir in 2 Tablespoons oil. Let cool to luke-warm.

4 1/2 teaspoons yeast (2 packs)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 cup warm water
Dissolve yeast and sugar in water in a small bowl. Let sit in a warm place until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add to above mixture.

3 1/2 cups bread flour
Add flour to dough. Knead about 10 minutes. Place dough in a lightly greased bowl, cover with a clean dish cloth, and let rise 45 minutes.
Divide dough in half and put in two greased bread loaf pans. Cover with a dish cloth and let rise 30 to 40 minutes. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Bake bread 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool 10 minutes in pans. Serve warm.

This bread is always so good. Since it is best enjoyed warm and fresh, I love to give one loaf to a friend. We like to eat it with butter and jam. It is also good to use for peanut butter sandwiches.

And now, an important message from Jacob:

Sunday, November 1, 2009


Homemade pizza is one of the best foods known to man. My mom has made an amazing pizza for years. I have been spoiled and am still never quite satisfied with a delivery pizza.

A pizza created at home can be customized to suit any taste. Art likes a thin, crispy crust. I like a thick, chewy crust. We both love toppings of all kinds- especially cheese.

Tonight, I made a crust based on a recipe I found in Martha Stewart Living. I have made it several times before. The combination of crispy outside and chewy inside suits us perfectly.

I substituted 1 cup of whole wheat flour for 1 cup of the all purpose flour called for in the recipe. Since I do not own a pizza peel, I put my shaped dough on a preheated stone and then added the toppings. Then, I placed the stone in the oven and bake the pizza at 500 degrees for about 8 minutes.

I made an easy pizza sauce.

1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/4 of a yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 oz tomato paste
1 15oz can tomato sauce
1 bay leaf
dash of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oil in a sauce pan over medium high heat. Saute onion until soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic, stir 1 minute. Add tomato paste, stir 1 minute. Add tomato sauce, bay leaf, and red pepper flakes. Simmer 15 minutes.

(I have noticed the presence of onions, garlic, and tomato sauce in just about every meal I make...)

In addition to the sauce, I topped the pizzas with torn spinach, roasted red bell peppers, turkey pepperoni, grated carrot, caramelized onion, Parmesan, feta, ricotta, and mozzarella.

I realize carrot on a pizza is pretty unusual. I used the carrot to add some more veggie power to the pizza. They were finely grated and not at all noticeable.

Everyone enjoyed the pizza for dinner. And, we will enjoy the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.