Monday, December 21, 2009

Mexican Roast Chicken

With all the holiday baking and sewing and knitting I've been doing, I haven't been spending much time planning our family dinners. So Saturday we were at Walmart and I remembered a turkey breast I had in our freezer and thought for Sunday dinner we could have turkey sandwiches. I grabbed all the stuff we'd need for dinner and late last night as we were watching "Home Alone," I remembered I had better go take the turkey out so it would have time to thaw. Turns out it was just turkey deli meat in the freezer. Oops. So I had to come up with something I could make with the ingredients we had on hand. I found a frozen whole chicken and thought we might as well roast it. It's one of my favorite Sunday meals anyway. Plus it gave me something to daydream about as I drifted off to sleep since I didn't have any fresh rosemary or thyme, which is what I typically use to flavor the bird. So I started thinking about a Mexican-inspired roast chicken. I wasn't sure I'd be able to find a recipe, so I thought I'd just make a rub for the chicken with Mexican spices and stuff the cavity with some cilantro, garlic, and limes. I'm sure that would have tasted okay, but luckily I didn't have to come up with my own recipe- I found these instead. The potatoes were a lovely accompaniment.

Oh, and I'm pretty certain any recipe that tells you to "rub the chicken liberally with salt" is not considered low-sodium. So my ring finger may be paying for this tomorrow. It's okay. Worth it.

Mexican Fusion Roasted Chicken
recipes from

1 3-4lbs whole young chicken, neck and giblets saved for another purpose
1/2 cup cilantro/parsley pesto (recipe follows)
1 lime, zest and juice for the marinade, leftover lime halves for the cavity
2 tbsp minced garlic
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

In a large ziploc bag or mixing bowl combine the pesto, lime juice and zest, and garlic. Mix until thoroughly blended. Rinse the whole chicken, inside and out, under cold water then pat dry with paper towels. Add the chicken to the ziploc bag with the marinade. Rub the marinade both under and on top of the skin of the chicken, making sure to get a good coat of the marinade inside the cavity as well. Allow the chicken to marinate for 1 hour. While the chicken is marinating, preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Remove the chicken from the marinade after one hour then rub the chicken liberally with kosher salt and black pepper - again both under and on top of the skin, as well as inside the cavity. Stuff the leftover lime halves into the cavity of the chicken then place it on to a roasting pan, breast-side down. Place the roasting pan into a preheated 450 degree oven. Roast the chicken at 450 degrees for 15 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 degrees. Continue roasting the chicken at 350 degrees for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, until an thermometer inserted into the fleshy part of the thigh reads 170 degrees. Times will vary depending on the weight of the chicken. Remove the chicken from the oven. Loosely cover the chicken with aluminum foil and allow the chicken to rest for at least 10 minutes before carving. This chicken goes great served with extra cilantro/parsley pesto as a sauce. Enjoy!

Cilantro/Parsley Pesto

2 cloves garlic
2 tbsp pine nuts
1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
1 cup fresh parsley leaves
juice and zest from 1 lime
1 tsp red wine vinegar
1/2 tsp cumin seeds, toasted
1/2 tsp chile powder
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/4-1/3 cup olive oil
kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper

Add the garlic cloves and pine nuts to the bowl of a food processor. Pulse the garlic and pine nuts until they are thoroughly minced. Add the cilantro, parsley, lime juice and zest, red wine vinegar, cumin seeds, chile powder, and red pepper flakes to the bowl of the processor. Turn the processor on low. Allow it to run for several seconds before slowly drizzling in enough olive oil while the food processor is running to create a nicely viscous pesto. After all of the olive oil has been added, season the pesto with kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste.

Mexican Roasted Potatoes- from The Nourishing Gourmet

8 medium potatoes, peeled and dice
1/3 cup of olive oil
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon sea salt (plus more to sprinkle on top)
freshly ground black pepper
3 garlic cloves, minced
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
1 tablespoon Dijon style mustard

1 lime, juiced (or more to taste)

1-Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2-Combine all of the ingredients, except the potatoes and lime in a jar and shake to thoroughly mix ingredients (or whisk in a bowl).

3-Pour your diced potatoes into a jelly roll pan, and toss with the oil mixture. Sprinkle with salt and freshly ground pepper.

4-Roast for about 40 minutes, until the potatoes are well cooked, and browning on the edges. Take out of the oven, and sprinkle the juice of one lime over it. Taste test, and add more lime juice or salt, if needed and serve.

Christmas Sleepover

Last night we tried camping out by the Christmas tree for a slumber party and watching "Home Alone" for the second year in a row. It was the end of a really fun family day. Bobby took the kids shopping to pick out presents for me and each other, we ate lunch at McDonald's (which Bobby and I both consider a huge sacrifice we make for our children about five times a year), and... hmmm, I can't remember what else. I do remember we took turns hanging out the window and screaming at the top of our lungs, "Merry Christmas" at noone and everyone. I found a bag of english muffins that morning mistakenly placed in the wrapping paper box the night before and realized that I had left our Sant Family address list at the post office. We had a good laugh about that. And the giant cup of caramel apple cider that Bobby accidentally knocked over when he was getting Sophie out of the car at McDonald's about three minutes after he bought it. That was pretty funny, too. The kids were really excited about setting up the bed downstairs, watching a movie, and sleeping by the tree. It was cute to see how much they were looking forward to it. This is the first year Franny has really seemed to notice our family's traditions; it's also the first year she seems to remember what we did the year before. I love it! We got a lot of questions like, "Is it nighttime yet?" "When are we going to have dinner?" And confirmations of plans already made: "Mom, you and Dad are going to sleep on the couch?" Me: "Mmmhmm." Franny: "Can you say 'yes'?" I don't understand why "sure", "you bet", "yup", and "mmmhmmm" do not satisfy here as acceptable affirmative answers. It cracks me up.

Last year Bobby's brother Wes and his family joined us for Christmas and we had so much fun with them. This year they're heading out for New Year's. Franny and I were talking about Christmas (probably about how they're allowed to start eating the gingerbread on Christmas Day), and she said, "What about our cousins?" I said, "They're not coming this year, sweetie." She said, "AH! Isn't that sad? Why are we having Christmas all by ourselves?" It was pretty cute and I was thrilled she remembered and enjoyed that part of Christmas last year.

I snapped a few shots of our sleepover. I was there, too. I just don't like being photographed when I'm pregnant. Sometimes I think I'm the only person who carries pregnancy in her face (among other places.) Yikes and I still have over three months. "Home Alone" wasn't as much of a hit as last year, but I still enjoyed the tradition. The girls were pretty hyper and after a while they were playing with their Simpsons dolls, Bobby picked up his book, and I (surprise, surprise) fell asleep early. But between Franny's snoring and Sophie's coughing, I woke up quite a few times and it was fun to look over and see the Christmas tree. That's my favorite part of the whole thing, I think. I think it's worth one night sleeping on the couch. The next morning I woke up to Franny poking my leg. I moved a little and she said, "What did you say?" It was so funny how she was trying to be sneaky and wake me up. I totally understand since as a kid I was usually the first one awake in my house. Anyway, this was definitely a fun Christmas memory. Maybe "Miracle on 34th Street" next year? I'll take your suggestions if you've got them.

Oh yes, I nearly forgot. New pictures of my sister, her husband, and her twins on her blog. Very cute!

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Cranberry Lime Tart

This tart and I go way back. Way back to before Franny was even born- December 2003. The company I worked for held a Christmas boutique and employees, their spouses, or associates came and sold their crafts, food items, etc. One employee's wife was selling homemade tarts and cinnamon rolls and she was handing out samples of what I believe was this tart. We loved this tart! We all stood together trying to guess what the flavors were. I remember my friend Missy's mom was there and she was able to identify almonds in the shortbread crust. We could all taste lime. A few months or years later (I'm really not sure), I took these clues and headed for the computer to search high and low for the recipe.

It led me here. Cranberry Lime Tart, Bon Appetit, 2003. So I held on to the recipe, waiting for the perfect opportunity to reunite with such delicious memories. I chose a cooking club about 3 years ago. The recipe calls for Chinese Five Spice Powder. Leave this out! It will ruin your dish. Though the tart was a hit at cooking club, I was terribly disappointed, knowing it was not what it ought to have been. Not the tart I had tasted so many years before at the Christmas boutique at I decided to go for it one more time and make it for a Christmas party that my friend Krista was throwing for the ladies at our church. I left the Chinese spices out and was much happier with the result. Definitely the same recipe and I was so happy to try it again after such a long separation!

Cranberry Lime Tart
The white chocolate cream recipe is not very impressive to me. I followed this recipe as written, however, for two reasons. #1) I was too tired to care about a preferable alternative. #2) There are so many flavors in this dessert, that I didn't think the extra effort for a better quality white chocolate cream sauce would be noticed. I think I made the right choice. I also didn't bother with the garnish. I am so lazy about garnishes and picture-taking these days. But I'm sure the white chocolate curls and lime zests would have been lovely.

Lime curd
1/2 cup fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon cornstarch
3/4 cup sugar
6 large egg yolks
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
2 1/2 teaspoons grated lime peel

1 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/3 cup whole almonds, toasted, cooled
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Cranberry Topping
1/4 cup water
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
2/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 teaspoons Chinese five-spice powder* (optional)- Consider yourself warned. This is a bad idea.
1 12-ounce bag (3 cups) fresh cranberries or frozen, partially thawed

White Chocolate Cream
5 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sour cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

White chocolate curls
8 thin lime twists

For lime curd:

Whisk lime juice and cornstarch in heavy medium saucepan. Whisk in sugar and yolks, then add butter. Whisk constantly over medium heat until mixture simmers and thickens, about 8 minutes. Strain into small bowl. Mix in lime peel. Cover; chill overnight.

For crust:

Finely grind flour, sugar, almonds, and salt in processor. Add butter and vanilla; cut in, using on/off turns, until mixture just forms soft moist clumps. Gather dough into ball; flatten into disk. Wrap in plastic. Refrigerate 1 hour. Press dough onto bottom and up sides of 11-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom. Using thumb, press dough up sides to extend 1/8 inch above rim of pan. Freeze crust 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Bake crust until golden brown, pressing with back of spoon if crust bubbles, about 25 minutes. Transfer to rack and cool completely.

For cranberry topping:

Whisk 1/4 cup water and cornstarch in heavy large saucepan to blend. Add sugar, honey, and five-spice powder, if desired. Stir over medium-high heat until mixture comes to boil. Add cranberries; cook until mixture boils and berries just begin to pop but still maintain shape, occasionally stirring gently, about 5 minutes. Cool completely (mixture will thicken).

For white chocolate cream:

Stir chocolate in top of double boiler over simmering water until melted and smooth. Remove from over water; whisk in sour cream and vanilla. Cool completely.

Spread white chocolate cream into crust; freeze 15 minutes. Spoon curd over; spread evenly. Spoon cranberry topping by tablespoonfuls over, then spread carefully to cover completely. Cover and chill overnight. (Can be made 2 days ahead. Keep refrigerated.)

Remove pan sides; transfer tart to platter. Sprinkle chocolate curls around edge of tart. Garnish with lime twists.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Baby teeth

Yesterday Franny woke up and was pushing on one of her bottom front teeth. She's been obsessed with loosing teeth lately. Some of her friends at school must be losing teeth already. I checked for her and sure enough it was loose! When I brought her home from school yesterday afternoon, I said, "let's go tell Daddy about your tooth!!"

She ran downstairs to find Daddy and proudly showed him her loose tooth. He said, "Wow! I can't believe you have a loose tooth! You're getting so big!" She giggled and with a sigh said, "Yeah... I'm going to have boobies."

Tuesday, December 15, 2009


Congratulations Julia and Grant!!!

My girls and I are dying to get out there and meet those babies. We're excited to come one month from today!

Hannah Marianne Holmes and Warner Russell Holmes were born yesterday around noon-ish. Hannah (left) was born at 4 lbs. 13 oz. Warner weighed in at 5 lbs. 15 oz. Both are doing fine.

My sister was a champ! Way to go Julia. I am so proud of you.

Twins. Two at a time. What an amazing blessing. No doubt a challenging one, but still, amazing.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Gingerbread House Party - Our New Family Tradition

I don't remember ever making gingerbread houses growing up, but it was a big tradition in Bobby's family. His mom would make her own gingerbread and then construct a gingerbread house for each of her children to decorate! Amazing. And last night Bobby told me that she used to make a bunch of extra houses and decorate them to give out as gifts! The girls were a bit disappointed when they realized I was only making the one gingerbread house, but I think it was a good way to start for us. Bobby has suggested this become one of our family traditions a few times and I feel bad that in our 8+ years of marriage this is the first time I've ever attempted it. We did make them once with Louise the day after Thanksgiving, but she provided everything for us. It was then that I first saw Bobby's talent and skill for gingerbread house decorating. He's a pro. Did you notice the Necco wafers as shingles in the first picture of Franny? That's a Bobby original. He totally came up with that idea on his own.

So! Recipes and patterns. There are tons of patterns online- some you can buy, many are free. I chose a very simple and traditional pattern for our first year. I really wanted to cut a window and make my own stained glass window panes, but I forgot to cut the windows out during the baking phase. I'll have to make a note of it for next year.

Gingerbread House Recipe
from Simply Recipes


  • 6 cups all purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves or allspice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 sticks (12 Tbsp) butter, softened
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup dark molasses
  • 1 Tbsp water

Make the Gingerbread Dough

1 Whisk together the dry ingredients in a large bowl, set aside.

2 Using an electric mixer, beat on medium speed the butter and brown sugar until fluffy and well blended. Beat in the eggs, molasses and water until well combined.

3 Beat half of the flour mixture into the molasses mixture until well blended and smooth. Stir in the remaining flour. Knead (or use your mixer's dough hook) until well blended. If dough is too soft, add a little more flour.

4 Wrap the dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least two hours, preferably overnight. You can make it up to 3 days ahead of time. Let sit at room temperature for at least 10 minutes before rolling out.

Icing Cement Recipe


  • 2 large egg whites
  • 1/8 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 2 teaspoons water
  • 3 cups sifted powdered sugar

Icing Cement:
Beat egg whites, cream of tartar, and water until frothy. Blend in sugar on high speed until stiff, 5 to 10 minutes. Use immediately or cover and use within 8 hours.

Yield: about 1-1/2 cups icing (this was just enough for one house.)

Instructions for Constructing Gingerbread House:

from Simply Recipes

This is where it really helps to have more than two hands working on a house, and why making a gingerbread house is so much more fun with company than alone. If you are working on this alone, it may help to grab some canned goods from the pantry and use the cans to help prop up the pieces while the icing mortar is drying.

1 Pick a solid base for your gingerbread house - either a flat cookie sheet, or a thick, sturdy piece of cardboard. If you want, line the base with aluminum foil or wax paper.

2 Pipe a thick line of icing along a short end of one of the side pieces. Press the iced side piece against the edge of either the front or back pieces. Hold in place for a few minutes until the icing is partially set. Repeat with the other side piece. Prop up with cans if necessary. Repeat with the other short edges of the side pieces and the remaining front/back piece. Pipe icing along the seams, inside and outside of the house, to fill in any gaps and to add extra stability. Pipe icing along the edges of the house where it meets the base. Let set for at least an hour before attempting to add the roof pieces.

If any of the gingerbread house pattern pieces breaks, as can happen easily when working with what are essentially cookies, most likely you can repair them. On my house I forgot to cut out the door and window until the front piece had almost completely cooled. When I went to make the cuts, the piece broke. Fortunately, it was easy to mortar back together with royal icing. We even created a "splint" out of cardboard and used royal icing to hold the splint to the piece. Let harden completely before using the piece for the house construction. When it comes time to decorate, you can pipe icing right over the broken seam and no one will be the wiser.

3 Once the royal icing has dried enough so that the base structure is solid, you can go to work on the roof. Pipe icing all along the top edges of the structure, front and back and two sides. The roof pieces are a rectangular shaped. Place the roof pieces so that the long ends of the rectangle are running along the top of the house. It helps if you have two people working together to place the roof pieces on the house at the same time so that they meet easily at the top center, and extend out a little bit, forming an overhang at each end. Gently hold the roof pieces in place for a few minutes until they are set enough so they don't slide off when you remove your hands. Pipe the top seam of the house with extra icing. Let the house stand for at least an hour, and preferably 8 hours before decorating.

Note: If you have pets in your house, keep them away from the gingerbread house during all phases of construction and decorating. Non-gingerbread-house-building-participating adults and children should be informed to keep their hands off the house as well.

4 The chimney. The dimensions of the chimney can be a bit tricky because of the angle of the roof. Although you may have cut your chimney out of a pattern, these small pieces likely have spread a bit through cooking, and you may have to use a chef's knife to cut the pieces and adjust the angles of the pieces so they align better with the roof. It's easiest to assemble the chimney first upside down, separate from the house. Pipe the pieces together with royal icing and let set until stable. Then, turn the chimney right-side-up and attach it to the roof using piped royal icing. You can do this either right after the house has initially set (1 hour after assembly) or later, during the decorating process.

Finally, a french toast recipe I like!

Gold Coast French Toast
from 101 cookbooks

I used a loaf of french bread for this. We also tried it with some homemade whole wheat bread, but I preferred the french bread. 101 cookbooks recommends a Hawaiian sweet bread or challah.

1 egg
1 cup undiluted evaporated milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
6 slices bread

Beat egg; add milk, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Mix thoroughly. Cut bread into triangle, dip into egg and milk mixture. Brown on both sides on a well-greased griddle or frying pan. Serve with soft butter and maple syrup.

Monday, December 7, 2009

My first local commercial.

I love where I live. I didn't always use to say that.

For a while now I've been unofficially petitioning for "townie" status. We've lived here four years now so I think we should be considered. We own a home here now. I bought my first lawn ornament up this fall- a cute little wooden owl. I shop at Aldi's- the weird grocery store in town with fabulous prices and great finds. But this next one I think makes me a shoe-in as a townie.

I appeared for free in a local commercial. With my daughter. Check it out:

Our commercial was pretty good, but this one is a gem:

Friday, December 4, 2009

I miss the salt shaker.

I've always been a "salter." It was much worse when I was younger. I used to swipe salt packets from fast food restaurants and carry them in my purse in case of an emergency. (Wendy's had the best ones.) I've really tried to cut back since then. Probably because of how much water I retained when I was pregnant with Franny. My salt cravings are much worse when I'm pregnant. A few weeks ago I made some roasted asparagus and wouldn't stop singing its praise when Bobby finally said, "Um, babe, it's really salty." I didn't even know!

So ever since Thanksgiving my hands and feet have been swelling. Yikes! At 22 weeks? Doesn't that seem a little early? So I've decided to cut way back on my salt intake and have been looking for recipes that are low-sodium. It's not going great. I keep choosing recipes with ingredients like soy sauce- it doesn't get much saltier than soy sauce! I guess my main change for the week is I haven't been adding salt to anything and that's a big step. I'm trying to drink more water and all that. I really don't want to have to buy a new set of maternity clothes after Christmas when my current ones don't fit anymore!

So here's what we ate this week:

White Bean Turkey Chili
adapted from My Kitchen Cafe

1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup diced onion
2 (14.5 ounce) cans Great Northern Beans, undrained- lots of salt in here!
2 cups cooked, diced turkey
2 cups chicken broth
3/4 cup salsa (I use Pace Chunky Medium)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon celery seed
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

In a medium saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the remainder of the ingredients, except the mozzarella cheese. Heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until the soup comes to a simmer. Add the mozzarella cheese one handful at a time, stirring to let each addition melt before adding the next. Stir to combine and make sure all the cheese has melted and serve.

I served the meal with my favorite whole wheat bread and some leftover cranberry sauce.

Garlic Chicken Pasta with Spinach
from My Kitchen Cafe

I've never flavored olive oil in the microwave before. I thought about doing it the old-fashioned way on the stove-top, but then I thought, "who am I to deny the microwave of its mystical powers?" Tasty dish. I always turn to lemon when I'm trying a new diet. Lemon rarely lets me down.

6 garlic cloves, minced
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (this doesn't add spiciness - just the right amount of flavor)
6 tablespoons olive oil
2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound penne pasta
1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil or 1 tablespoon dried
6 tablespoons juice from 2 lemons
1 cup grated parmesan cheese

Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in a large pot. Meanwhile, combine garlic, pepper flakes and oil in a small microwave-safe bowl and microwave until garlic is golden and fragrant, about 1 minute.

Pat chicken dry with paper towels and cut into bite-size pieces. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer 1 tablespoon of the garlic/red pepper oil to a large skillet and heat over medium heat until oil is rippling. Add chicken and cook until well browned and cooked through. Transfer to a plate and tent with foil.

Add 1 tablespoon salt and the pasta to boiling water and cook until tender but still slightly firm (al dente). Reserve 1/2 cup cooking water. Drain pasta and return to the pot. Stir in chicken, spinach, basil, lemon juice, Parmesan, and remaining garlic mixture, adding reserved pasta water as needed. Season with salt and pepper. Serve immediately.

Cauliflower-Potato Curry
from the cookbook Great Vegetarian Cooking Under Pressure

My good friend Marie is letting me borrow her pressure cooker and cookbook for a time and the other night I tried this vegetable recipe to go with our garlic chicken pasta leftovers. I have to admit, it was not a huge hit with this family. I liked it. If I were going to make it again, I think I would leave out at least a tablespoon of the curry. I just thought it was too much.

1 large head caulifower (about 2 1/2 lbs.)
2 tsp safflower or canola oil (I used vegetable oil)
2 tsp whole cumin seeds (I don't have the seeds so I waited until later in the process and just added a few shakes of cumin. Hmmm... a few shakes vs. 2 tsp doesn't seem like an even substitute. I just noticed that.)
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (I just used 1 can)
2 Tbs tomato paste
2 Tbs mild curry powder
1 tsp ground coriander seeds (skipped this)
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp salt, or to taste
pinch of cayenne
1 1/2 pounds thin skinned potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1/2 cup diced red bell pepper

1/4 cup minced coriander (I just remembered that I was going to add cilantro to this. Whoops!)

Cut the cauliflower into florets about 2 inches wide across the top. Set aside.

Heat the oil in the cooker. Sizzle the cumin seeds over medium-high heat just until they begin to pop, 5 to 10 seconds. Turn off the heat and add the coconut milk (stand back to avoid sputtering oil) and tomato paste. While stirring with a fork, sprinkle in the curry powder, coriander, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne. Bring to a boil. Set the potatoes and red bell pepper in the liquid and place the cauliflower florets on top. Lock the lid in place. Over high heat, bring to high pressure. Lower the heat just enough to maintain high pressure and cook for 3 minutes. Reduce the pressure with a quick-release method Remove the lid, tilting it away from you to allow any excess steam to escape. If the potatoes are not quite done, replace (but do not lock) the lid and let them cook for a few more minutes in the residual heat.

Stir well to combine the cauliflower and the potatoes. While stirring, the cauliflower will break up into small pieces and amalgamate with the cooking liquid to create a thick sauce. Mix in the coriander before serving.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Stories and Happy Thanksgiving!!

(scary faces before Friday night's Wizard of Oz performance)

It's Thanksgiving! Quite possibly my favorite holiday. Because I love food.

Oh how I love food!

Nona and Grandpa Howard rolled into town last night (my mother-in-law and her husband) and we spent all afternoon and last night making pies, raspberry pretzel jello (laugh if you must but it's a Thanksgiving staple in my family), cranberry sauce, and other preparations. I got up early to make the rolls and thought of a few recent stories about the kiddos I'd like to post. After all, it's Thanksgiving and I'm enormously grateful for them.

Franny has recently become a huge fan of Scooby Doo. The other day we were in the car and she said, "Mom, are centaurs real?" I said, "No honey, they are just pretend." Franny: "But no! They're real! Velma said they are real." I could not believe my ears. Velma has more credibility than me? Preposterous! I said, "Well, who are you going to believe, me or Velma." Franny didn't answer that question. Probably a wise move. This morning, though, she started in on the same line of questioning. Finally I just told her that Velma is a fictional character herself (not in those words- it was more like, "well Velma's not real!") So Franny said, "I think maybe she's real AND pretend." Hmmm....

I've been inadvertently teaching Sophie how to say bad words. Not like bad words, but things that are inappropriate for a 3 year old to say. Like, "piece of crap" and "son of a b" - (I actually only use the initial b, not the actual word). She loves to make us laugh and she is a master at identifying adult phrases and repeating them for comedic effect. I was driving the car and talking to Ashley one day and in response to something she said, I exclaimed, "What the crap?!" Apparently I had forgotten where I was and who I was with. Sophie said, "What the crap?!" I laughed and said, "Oh honey, you can't say that. Mommy shouldn't say that either, but you definitely can't say that." She starts crying while I'm still talking to Ashley and when I ask her what is the matter she wails, "But Mom! I want to say 'what the crap!'"

My mom used to warn me all the time when Franny was around two that this would happen. I don't know why I didn't believe her. I always thought it was funny that when a kid is acting up, Grandpa Howard will say, "Oh, she's just being a wiener." I adopted that epithet for my kids when they were being naughty, and can occasionally be heard saying, "Oh Franny, stop being a wiener." Well, one day we were at the park and one of Franny's friends was having a hard time and I heard Franny say, "Oh, she's just being a wiener." It sounded so funny!!

Yesterday I was driving Sophie to preschool and this was our conversation:
Sophie: "Mom, do you like the Humpty Dumpty song?"
Me: "Yes I do! Do you?"
Sophie: "No."

She's also been telling me that she doesn't want a baby sister. Yikes. She seemed all for it in the beginning. Apparently I was mistaken in thinking that once a kid passed the age of three, it wouldn't be a problem for him/her to welcome a younger sibling to the group. Maybe it depends on the kid?

(taken last year at Thanksgiving)

We have a word in our family for passing gas. My mom HATED the word "fart." It was not allowed in our house. Now I hate it to and the word we use is "boof." Sophie thinks it's really funny to say, "boof in your pants!" and spank us all on the rear. Last night Louise (Nona) and Grandpa Howard took us out to eat and Louise was commenting on what nice manners the girls had as they shared a big glass of fruit punch. Here's how their little conversation went:

Sophie: "Daddy can we share?"
Franny: "Here you go Sophie!"
Sophie: "Thank you!"
Franny: "You're welcome."
Sophie finishes drinking some of the fruit punch and hands it back to Franny. Louise comments on their nice manners. Franny says: "Thank you Sophie."
Sophie: "You're welcome." And just as I'm smiling to myself with pride at the well-behaved children I'm raising, Sophie follows up with a loud and boisterous, "BOOF IN YOUR PANTS!"

I guess I should be glad she didn't spank Grandpa Howard on the rear!

Have a great Thanksgiving and eat lots of delicious food!! I'm trying out some new recipes. I never got around to posting them beforehand but I'll get them posted so maybe they will benefit someone next year!

Friday, November 20, 2009

Ding Dong the Witch is Dead!

Franny is a little munchkin in our high school's production of Wizard of Oz. I'll post a video soon so you can see how much she lights up when she's on stage. It's so fun for me to watch. Tonight is the second performance night and our first time getting to see the real deal instead of dress rehearsals. I'm so nervous!! I'm not nervous for Franny. I'm nervous I won't be able to get my family out of the house in time to get in line for a good seat. I'm nervous that I won't capture every moment of her on stage. I'm nervous some lady with a fat head is going to sit in front of me. Wish me luck and more on this later.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Sunday Dinner - Salmon with Dill Cream Sauce

We had this for dinner tonight. Noone really appreciated this but me. It always makes me laugh when I'm the only one ooh-ing and ahh-ing over the food I make and everyone else's reaction is lackluster. I tried to explain that what made the dish was the creamy dill sauce, especially when it soaks into the rice, but they wouldn't listen.

My mom served asparagus a lot when I was a kid. I didn't like it then. I thought it sounded more like the name of a Sesame Street character than a vegetable. I also thought it's name made the vegetable sound rather unappealing. But I've changed my tune since then. I've blogged about this meal before, but this is a "do-over" because I made some changes to the dill cream sauce that I'm rather pleased with. And I'll never stop campaigning for more rice pudding-lovers. There just isn't enough of us out there.

Salmon. The way my Aunt Becky taught me. I am forever in her debt. This time I used the panini grill, per my Dad's suggestion, which I really liked, but Bobby prefers the broiler method, so the seasoning on the salmon gets kind of blackened.

Dill Cream Sauce

1 large garlic clove, smashed with 1 tsp kosher salt to make a paste
2 Tbs butter
1/2 cup white wine
3 Tbs chopped fresh dill, divided
1 cup creme fraiche (I didn't have enough time to make my own creme fraiche yesterday, but I wanted the tangy flavor, so I just mixed 2/3 cup whipping cream and 1/3 cup sour cream vigorously with a whisk- I'm sure the creme fraiche would have been better, but I was still very happy.
salt and pepper

(The original recipe called for 1 tsp Dijon style mustard. I left it out because I was afraid I wouldn't like it as much with as I did without.)

Serve salmon over white rice with dill cream sauce drizzled over the top.


Oh, and I almost forgot the asparagus! This is so easy and so good! I tossed the asparagus with lemon juice, olive oil, kosher salt, pepper, and then I sprinkled it with fresh parmesan. I roasted it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 20 minutes.

And then, of course, the rice pudding. I got Sophie to eat one bite, but the rest will be for me. (Franny and Bobby aren't fans of the stuff. They are crazy!)


Friday, November 6, 2009

Burritos and Doughnuts

Steak Burritos

These really hit the spot. We had them once for dinner last week and we've had them twice this week. The obsession started after a visit to Chipotle in Kansas City during a fun weekend with the girls. I love meals where each person can build their burrito exactly as they like it. Here's a list of what we like to put in ours:

Marinated and Grilled Steak, cut into bite-sized pieces (recipe below)
Black beans (a can of black beans, drained and rinsed, heated on the stovetop with a little bit of water)
My homemade canned salsa (yet to be blogged, hopefully forthcoming)
Sour cream (left at room temp for about an hour before serving, and thoroughly mixed until it's pourable)
Cilantro Lime Rice (recipe below)
Red peppers and onions sauteed in olive oil (fajita style)

Steak Marinade

Olive oil
Lime juice
Salt and Pepper
(I also used a Southwestern Steak Seasoning.)

Cilantro Lime Rice (supposed to be a copycat recipe from Chipotle)

1 teaspoon vegetable oil or butter
2 tsp. fresh cilantro
2/3 cup white basmati rice
1 cup water
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Lime

In a 2-quart heavy saucepan, heat oil or butter over low heat, stirring occasionally until melted. Add rice and lime juice, stir for 1 minute. Add water and salt, bring to a full rolling boil. At boiling, cover, turn down to simmer over low heat until rice is tender and the water is absorbed, about 25 minutes. Fluff rice with a fork.

Apple Cider Doughnuts

I know better than to make my own doughnuts, I really do. I just couldn't help myself on this particular day. It was almost like kismet. I had to take a last minute trip to Quincy, IL for some supplies for a church activity coming up and noticed a doughnut shop advertising apple cider doughnuts. I had never heard of such a thing and was intrigued. Then I came home and checked my favorite food blog, smitten kitchen, and she had just fried up the very same doughnuts just days before! It was meant to be. It's not like I really had a choice. I'll just link to her recipe since I didn't change a thing, although I kind of wished I had fried them in shortening instead of oil like she recommends. I didn't read that part until after I made them. Tasty! I liked them better dipped in cinnamon sugar than coated in the glaze. And not only did the whole family love them, but they were fun to make, too!

In case you hadn't heard...


Monday, November 2, 2009

My mo mo mo mace

Guess who started preschool today? In fact she's there right now. She has been so excited. She has the same preschool teacher that Franny had, so she knows her well and likes her very much. I'm sure she's having a great time with centers and circle time, and whatever else they have planned for today.

I took her to lunch at McDonald's. One of my favorite things to do with Sophie is take her out to lunch. She is the cutest lunch date I've ever had. Today when I was finished eating my 89 cent cheeseburger (it's a pregnancy craving I occasionally get- I think it's the pickles), she said, "Good job, Mom." One time when we were eating lunch at Bellacino's, she started singing "Poker Face" by Lady Gaga. Something she must have heard from our neighbor friend Lydia because I'm not a fan. It sounded like this, "Ma ma ma ma ma ma, ma mo mo mo mace." So funny. She smiles at me a lot, asks me lots of questions, and tries to act like a big girl. I'd go out to lunch with her every day if we could afford it. I'm so into Mexican food right now.

I feel like a moron for not taking her picture with Miss Dempsay, but I'm sure I'll get my chance. She was a champ. Not at all afraid when it was time for me to leave. I'm excited for her. She really seems to relish any activity that is hers alone and not Franny's. Like her Friday morning dance class. When her dance class comes up, she often says, "Is it for me?" and I say "yes" and she says, "not for Franny?" It's pretty cute.

As for me, I think I'll go curl up somewhere with Sophie's five pound bag of Halloween candy and read my book. She doesn't need all that candy anyways. Come on, you know you do it, too.

Saturday, October 31, 2009

I yuv trick-or-treating


People ask me why I don't dress up. That's easy. Who has the energy to dress themselves up after they get their kids ready? Okay, some of you do. But I will pass, thanks. :)

Our little town offers quite a bit of Halloween festivities to pick and choose from. We could be scheduled all day with trunk-or-treats, Halloween carnivals, and costume parades if I wanted it that way. We've tried them all through the years, but there is one event we've never missed and that is our ward trunk-or-treat. It always happens the night before Halloween and it never disappoints. Carnival-type booths, a cake walk, a little spooky cave, homemade root beer and then outside for trunk-or-treating. It was cold and windy this year. Franny gladly wore her coat but Sophie refused to wear one. That surprised me because Sophie out of our two kids has always been the one more sensitive to temperatures. As a baby we took her out sledding and the moment a little snow touched the skin on her wrist between her glove and her coat, it was all over and we had to pack it in. And now when I'm putting her in her car seat and the sun is in her eyes, she starts screaming like her clothes are on fire. She grin and bore the cold through about half of the trunks we were treating at, and then when I asked her if she wanted her coat, she said, "yeah!" like it was the first time I had asked her. Then she looked up at me and said, "I yuv trick-or-treating." I said, "oh you do, do you?" and she said, "yeah, I yuv candy."

On the way home I said, "Okay, somebody give me their bucket so I can have some candy." (Hungry Mommy.) Sophie says, "okay" and she handed me a bag of pretzels. Uh..nice try. I said, "thanks dear, but can you hand me the bucket so I can pick up something." Usually at this point she would say, "Mom, I'm not a deer!" But this time she must have been too focused on the kung fu grip she was using to keep me from taking her precious bucket. Then Franny said, "here you go, Mom!" and handed me hers, at which point I enjoyed a very nice mini-Twix and mini-twizzler pull apart. I yuv trick-or-treating, too.

Then we came home and had a video chat with my Dad and two youngest sisters in California so they could see the girls in their costumes. Franny was super-chatty, showing them each and every individual candy. Meanwhile Sophie was on the floor next to us, not at all participating in the video chat and ravenously eating piece after piece of candy, probably anticipating the candy could be taken away from her at any moment. (Mean mommy.) When did she learn how to open her own wrappers? Some of my favorite parts of the video chat was when my Dad asked Franny for some of her candy and she laughed and laughed and said, "No, I can't give it to you in the computer!!!" At one point she was trying to get Annie's attention to show her a candy wrapper with a skeleton on it and Maggie put her face really close to their computer's camera and said, "Hi Franny, I'm here too." Franny said, "Oh, Maggie," with a little chuckle and sigh. Then as we were signing off, my Dad said, "hey franny" and gave her a little salute with his hand and said, "Wonder Woman salute!" She said, "No, no, this is Wonder Woman salute." And she put her hands on her hips and posed like this:

It was awesome. Then we washed the half a can of Aqua Net and glitter spray from their hair and cuddled up on the couch to watch Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I like scary movies on Halloween, and that's about the scariest I'm willing to show my kids. (We fast forward the dementor parts.) Sophie fell asleep within five minutes, like I knew she would. (She very recently gave up naps because she starts afternoon preschool on Monday!) Franny told us she gets an upset feeling in her stomach when she's scared, and then she said, "but I like scary." She takes after me. Then she asked us to skip to the part when Lupin turns into a werewolf, something she never should have seen in the first place, but Bobby dozed off and I was making dinner. I said no and luckily we were all asleep before that part came anyway. It was a great night.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

He doesn't kill people?

I get updates each week from, on the progress of my baby's development. Franny seems really interested in the development of our unborn baby, so I called her in from breakfast to check out the picture in this week's update. (I'm seventeen weeks along and we still don't know for sure if it's a boy.)

Here's how the conversation went:

Franny: Does he love me?
Me: Yes.
Baby brother's not mean?
He doesn't kill people?
(struggling to maintain a straight face): No, honey.
Does baby brother wear diapers?
Does he wear clothes?
Does he wear jammies?
That's kinda weird.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Cream of Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

My mom used to make me Campbell's Tomato Soup with Grilled Cheese when I was a little girl. And I remember eating it once or twice at my best friend Annie's house. Her mom Phyllis has always been so good to me. So I have wonderful memories of this dinner as a kid when it was a bit chilly outside.

So when I saw this recipe for Cream of Tomato Soup on Smitten Kitchen, well, I knew it was just what I was looking for.

This recipe was in fact "adapted" from the recipe I found on Smitten Kitchen, but in no way do I believe it to be an improvement. I used garlic instead of shallots. I had garlic on hand, not shallots. I think shallots would have been better. I skipped adding the brandy or sherry that is called for in the recipe, and I believe I used light brown sugar instead of dark brown. Sometimes it's just not worth an extra trip to the store, you know what I'm saying? For the grilled cheese I used sourdough bread purchased the day before from Panera (OH YEAH.) and medium cheddar cheese.

Cream of Tomato Soup
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen

2 (28-ounce) cans whole tomatoes packed in juice, drained, 3 cups juice reserved
1 1/2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tsp minced fresh garlic
1 tablespoon tomato paste
Pinch ground allspice
2 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 3/4 cups chicken stock, homemade or canned low-sodium
1/2 cup heavy cream
Salt and cayenne pepper

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 450°F. Lined rimmed baking sheet with foil. With fingers, carefully open whole tomatoes over strainer set in bowl and push out seeds, allowing juices to fall through strainer into bowl. Spread seeded tomatoes in single layer on foil. Sprinkle evenly with brown sugar. Bake until all liquid has evaporated and tomatoes begin to color, about 30 minutes. Let tomatoes cool slightly, then peel them off foil; transfer to small bowl and set aside.

2. Heat butter over medium heat in large saucepan until foaming. Add garlic, tomato paste and allspice. Reduce heat to low, cover, and cook, stirring occasionally, until shallots are softened, 7 to 10 minutes. Add flour and cook, stirring constantly, until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds. Gradually add chicken stock, whisking constantly to combine; stir in reserved tomato juice and roasted tomatoes. Cover, increase heat to medium, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, stirring occasionally, to blend flavors, about 10 minutes.

3. Pour mixture through strainer* and into medium bowl; rinse out saucepan. Transfer tomatoes and solids in strainer to blender; add 1 cup strained liquid and puree until smooth. Place pureed mixture and remaining strained liquid in saucepan. Add cream and warm over low heat until hot, about 3 minutes. Off heat, stir in salt and cayenne. Serve immediately. (Soup can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 2 days. Warm over low heat until hot; do not boil.)

I also recently learned how to can. I mean to make a post about my recent canning efforts complete with recipes, but I make no promises. Only because typically when I promise to write about something on this blog, I don't follow through. Anyway, this applesauce recipe is so awesome! If I'm not careful, we could burn through all this applesauce in a week. And I used a lot of apples for this!

Autumn Apple Sauce
found on Epicurious

I used mostly McIntosh, with a few of the following: Granny Smith, Gala, Honeycrisp.

8 assorted apples (i.e., Rome, McIntosh, Royal Gala, Golden Delicious, Granny Smith, and Red Delicious)
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 cup fresh apple cider
1/2 cup sugar
1 cinnamon stick (3 inches long)

1. Peel, core and cut the apples into large chunks, tossing them with the lemon juice to prevent discoloration.

2. Place the apples and remaining ingredients in a large, heavy pot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover partially and cook until apples are very tender, about 15 minutes. Uncover the pot and cook 5 minutes more.

3. Remove the pot from the heat and discard the cinnamon stick. Coarsely mash the apples with the cooking juices. Cool to room temperature, then refrigerate, covered, until ready to use, up to 5 days.

Then I just processed them using a water bath canner for fifteen minutes.

Monday, October 19, 2009

This is how we do it in the midwest.

Well, it's not how I do it.

You wouldn't see a kids' carnival game like this where I grew up.


I guess they like to start 'em young around here.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

How much wood could a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Bobby was changing Sophie's diaper the other day and looked up at her face to see her like this.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Huevos Rancheros

I'd never tried Huevos Rancheros before. I'd always wanted to, and for a long time was on the look out for a good recipe. Well, I found it. I had nothing to compare it to, but Bobby did. He said they were the best Huevos Rancheros he'd ever had. Bobby has a lot of favorite recipes in my repertoire, but it's been a while since he's added a new one to his top 10. This one may have made the cut, which made me really happy. The sauce itself was way too spicy for my kiddos, so they got quesadillas instead. If you want to serve this to your kids, I would recommend cutting back on the peppers. Not us, though. I'm going to keep making it the way I did. Mmmm, mmmm!

Huevos Rancheros
recipe from Martha Stewart

I've always been intrigued by recipes that require soaking dried chilies in boiling water and then pulverizing them in a blender to make a delicious red sauce. It was every bit as great as I imagined it would be.


Serves 4 .

  • 2 mild to medium-hot dried chilies (such as New Mexico or Anaheim), cut in half lengthwise, seeds removed
  • 1 small yellow onion, cut lengthwise into 6 wedges with a bit of root end attached
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 3 cloves garlic, skin on
  • 1 jalapeno chile
  • 2 canned chipotle peppers in adobo sauce
  • 5 whole canned tomatoes, without juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 8 large eggs
  • 8 corn tortillas (6 inches each), warmed
  • Cotija, Chihuahua, or Monterey Jack cheese, shredded, for serving
  • Cilantro, coarsely chopped, for serving
  • Sour cream, for serving


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. Place a large cast-iron skillet over high heat. Add dried chiles to dry skillet and toast on all sides, pressing down on them with a spatula, about 1 minute per side. Remove from heat and place in a large bowl; pour 1 1/2 cups boiling water over chiles, and place a small heatproof plate on top to keep them submerged. Let soak for 20 minutes.
  3. Add a teaspoon of oil to the skillet and swirl to just coat the bottom. Add onion, garlic, and jalapeno. Cook until charred on all sides, about 8 minutes, removing garlic if skins begin to burn. Remove skins from garlic and place in the jar of a blender. Cut jalapeno in half lengthwise, removing ribs and seeds; add to blender along with onion, chipotle peppers, tomatoes, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, honey, chiles, and their soaking liquid. Blend until smooth. In the same skillet over high heat, heat remaining 5 teaspoons canola oil until almost smoking. Add sauce to the pan, being careful as it will splatter. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer about 2 minutes. Stir in lime juice, and remove the skillet from the heat. Crack eggs into the skillet and transfer to oven. Cook until egg whites are cooked through and yolks are still runny, about 5 minutes. (I gave them seven minutes.)
  4. Place 2 tortillas each on 4 individual plates. Top each with 2 eggs and sauce. Garnish as desired with cheese, cilantro, and sour cream.

Note: We folded them up like tacos and ate them that way. There was a lot of extra sauce. I put all the extra sauce in the fridge and we had it again the next night. We were almost out of corn tortillas, so I used flour instead and actually preferred it.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Double Chocolate Banana Bread

Double Chocolate Banana Bread - why didn't anyone think of this before?
found on The Sisters' Cafe

I've been thinking about this bread ever since I made it.

I had a large bunch of VERY overripe bananas and turned to "The Sisters" for help. I'm not sure I'll ever make regular banana bread again. Why? When this option exists?

Double Chocolate Banana Bread
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil
1 1/4 cups mashed bananas (about 3)
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 cup cocoa (I prefer dutch process)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to 350. Spray bottom of 8x4 inch loaf pan with cooking spray.

2. Beat sugar, eggs, and oil in large bowl at medium speed until combined. Beat in banana and vanilla at low speed. Combine flour, cocoa, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl; beat into banana mixture at low speed just until combined. Stir in chocolate chips.

3 Spoon batter into pan. Bake 60-70 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely on wire rack.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

It must be Fall...

...because I'm craving apple desserts and chicken pot pie. My mother loved this time of year. So many of my fall recipes have come through her or remind me of her. Even my treasured recipe for chicken pot pie reminds me of her. I never made it for her, but I always wanted to. When I was a kid I remember she bought us frozen Marie Callendar pot pies, baked them in the oven, and set one down in front of each of us. I hated it. I was like, "You like this?" Then I discovered Martha's genius recipe with fresh thyme in the crust and I was converted. The cake recipe is one of my favorites and I first tasted it at my mom's house years ago after her friend Suzy left some with her after a party or something. I LOVE this cake. This time I tried making it in a bundt pan and was happy with the results. Both the cake and the chicken pot pie recipes have been blogged here before, but I think it's appropriate that the best ones make repeat appearances.


Chicken Pot Pie (adapted from Martha

I added zucchini this time (replacement for the mushrooms). I chopped 1/2 of a large zucchini to the same size as the potatoes, and added them with the carrots and leeks. Delicious!
  • 3 or 4 chicken breasts
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut in half
  • 2 dried bay leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 1 small bunch fresh thyme
  • 1 rib celery, cut into thirds
  • 2 cup plus 7 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks plus 7 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1 lb. red potatoes, scrubbed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 2 medium leek, white and light-green parts only, sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and washed
  • 2 medium carrots, peeled and sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rounds
  • 6 ounces button mushrooms, quartered if large (these get left out for Bobby's sake in my pie)
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon heavy cream


  1. Combine chicken, chicken stock, yellow onion, bay leaves, peppercorns, 3 thyme sprigs, and celery in a stockpot, and add enough water just to cover the chicken. Bring stock to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer, uncovered, for 1 hour.
  2. Pick enough thyme leaves to make 3 tablespoons. Combine 2 cups flour, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 2 tablespoon thyme leaves in the bowl of a food processor, and set remaining 2 tablespoons thyme aside. Add 2 1/2 sticks chilled butter cut into small pieces, and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. While the food processor is running, add 6 tablespoons ice water and 2 egg yolks, and process until the dough holds together. Divide dough in half and flatten into two discs. Wrap well in plastic wrap; refrigerate at least 1 hour.
  3. Drain chicken, and reserve the stock. Shred the chicken into bite-size strips, and set aside. Strain the stock, and set aside 2 cups. Reserve the remaining stock for another use.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the remaining 7 tablespoons of butter in a large saute pan over medium-high heat. Add red potatoes, cook, stirring occasionally, until the potatoes begin to turn golden, 4 to 5 minutes. Add leeks, carrots, and mushrooms, and cook 4 to 5 minutes more. Add the remaining 7 tablespoons flour, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Stir in reserved chicken stock and milk, and bring to a simmer. Cook until thick and bubbly, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes. Add reserved chicken pieces, parsley, remaining 2 tablespoons thyme, lemon zest, remaining 2 teaspoons salt, and the ground pepper; transfer to two pie dishes. Set aside.
  5. Roll out the dough until it is 1/4 inch thick, and transfer to a baking sheet. Allow to chill 15 minutes. Make an egg wash: In a small bowl, whisk together the remaining yolk and heavy cream. Working quickly, place the dough over the top of the chicken mixture, and tuck extra dough around the edges. Cut slits on top to allow steam to escape. Brush with the egg wash, and place on a baking sheet. Bake until crust is golden, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve hot. Freeze one pie before baking for later if you like. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and then in foil and use within a month.

  • 1 1/2 pounds Brussels sprouts
  • 3 tablespoons good olive oil
  • 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Sprinkle with more kosher salt ( I like these salty like French fries), and serve immediately.

Are you hungry yet?

Butterscotch-Topped Gingerbread Cake with Sauteed Apples

For the butterscotch:
6 Tbs unsalted butter
3/4 c packed brown sugar

For the cake:
2 3/4 c cake flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbs ground ginger
1 Tbs cinnamon
1/4 tsp ground cloves
8 Tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp + 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup molasses
1 1/2 cup boiling water
2 large eggs

For the topping:
3 Tbs unsalted butter
2 Tbs sugar
1 3/4 lbs. Apples, peeled, sliced

Butter and flour sides but not bottom of 9 inch round pan. 3 inches deep.

Make butterscotch: in a small saucepan melt 6 Tbs butter and sugar together, stirring for a smooth mixture. Pour it into the cake pan and swirl it to coat the bottom. Heat the oven to 300 degrees. Put water on to start boiling. In a bowl sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, singer, cinnamon, and cloves, and set aside. Using paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. With a fork, stir in 1 tsp of the baking soda vigorously into the molasses until the molasses has lightened somewhat and has changed in texture. This can take a minute or two. Add the molasses to the butter-sugar mixture and mix on medium until completely combined. Add the remaining 1/2 tsp of baking soda to the boiling water. On low speed, alternately add the dry ingredients and the water to the butter mixture. Finally add the eggs one at a time, mixing to combine after each addition. The batter will be very thin. Bake until the center of the cake is spriny and a toothpick comes out clean, about 1 hour and 15 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes and invert cake onto a serving plate. Let cool an hour before serving. Just vbfore serving, saute apples in butter and sugar mixture. Top cake with warm apples and serve with whipped cream.
Related Posts with Thumbnails