Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Sunday Dinner - Healthy recipes can still be delicious!

In my search for delicious and low-fat recipes this weekend, I believe I've found some keepers! I'm so glad I followed Sara's advice and bought Martha Stewart's Great Food Fast. That cookbook has lots of easy and healthy recipes to choose from. The lemon spaghetti comes from Eugena by way of Melody and I am a long-time fan. I was going to serve steamed broccoli, but I got tired as dinner time approached. So we had green grapes instead, which I am LOVING by the way.


Parmesan-Stuffed Chicken Breasts


Ingredients

Serves 4.

  • 1 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 cup plain dried breadcrumbs
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • Grated zest of 1 lemon (about 1 tablespoon)
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 bone-in chicken breast halves (about 3 pounds)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees. In a small bowl, mix parsley, breadcrumbs, Parmesan, and zest. Season with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
  2. Divide parsley mixture into four mounds. Carefully loosen chicken skin with fingers; tuck parsley mixture under skin. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Place in a 9-by-13-inch roasting pan.
  3. Bake until skin is crispy, chicken is cooked through, and an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 165 degrees, about 30 minutes.
Lemon Spaghetti
I didn't have any fresh basil, so I substituted parsley and it tasted delish! (Although I'm sure I would have liked the basil better.)

Ingredients

  • 1 pound spaghetti
  • 2/3 cup olive oil
  • 2/3 cup grated Parmesan
  • 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons)
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • 1/3 cup chopped fresh basil leaves

Directions

Cook the pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water until tender but still firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk the oil, Parmesan, and lemon juice in a large bowl to blend.

Drain the pasta, reserving 1 cup of the cooking liquid. Toss the pasta with the lemon sauce, and the reserved cooking liquid, adding 1/4 cup at a time as needed to moisten. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with lemon zest and chopped basil.


Lemon Custard Cakes
I loved these little cakes. Sophie, on the other hand, was not as much of a fan.

Ingredients

Serves 6.

  • Unsalted butter, room temperature, for custard cups
  • 3 large eggs, separated
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons grated lemon zest, (1 lemon)
  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • Confectioners' sugar, for dusting

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Set a kettle of water to boil. Butter six 6-ounce custard cups and place in a dish towel-lined baking dish or roasting pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk egg yolks and sugar until light; whisk in flour. Gradually whisk in lemon juice, then milk and zest.
  3. With an electric mixer, beat egg whites and salt until soft peaks form. Add to lemon batter and fold in gently with a whisk (batter will be quite liquid).
  4. Divide batter among prepared custard cups; place baking dish in oven and fill with boiling water to reach halfway up sides of cups. Bake until puffed and lightly browned (but pudding is still visible in bottom), 20 to 25 minutes. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature, dusted with confectioners’ sugar.

My Secret Shame

You never know when inspiration is going to strike. I'm spending the weekend in Columbia for an annual Autism conference. I attended last year and walked out of there feeling super-charged. I always meant to write about all my favorite things from that conference but never got around to it. (Actually, it was that weekend last March that I was arrested. I've thought many times how glad I was that I happened to be gone that weekend. Read about it here.) Something about being gone for three nights and four days has compelled me to do the things I'm often loathe to do- like vacuuming, cleaning bathrooms, and ... going through the mail. My least favorite household job EVER.


I'm sorry, I know nobody wants to see my mess, but check out these piles. Yikes. I LOVE to be organized. I love for things to be put away. So why am I so often disorganized? I let the piles build and build and build for months and then I work through them. Why can't I follow the counsel of the fly lady and spend two minutes every morning sorting mail? You can barely see it but at the bottom of the above picture is a gently used sucker. Franny came home with it on Valentine's day and she wanted to eat it. I told her she could have five minutes with it and that was it. That sucker is the size of her face. At least that's an easy one. TRASH. So that's what I'm up to this morning. Up to my ears in preschool art, mail that was never even opened, and various recipes and gardening research printed from internet. It's going to be a long day! I'm giving myself until dinner time to get this table clean.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

"Chimpanzabee"




We went to St. Louis last weekend to party with the Pace's. It was perfect as usual. We're hoping to squeeze one more weekend like this one in before they move to Michigan this summer. (Sob!) I have been working on a big post about it here and there this week but I'm afraid I'll never get it done, but I did make this video from our trip to the park Sunday afternoon. We made a delicious Irish dinner, which you can read about here and find recipes for here. While the food was cooking, Justin and Ashley took us to a Queeny park where the girls had a blast and Sophie pretty much cracked us up.

video

Date Night- Two of Hearts

There are several different groups in town that put on a "Parent's Night Out" from time to time, and we always try to take advantage. The kids have always have a great time and we get a few hours to go see a movie or go out to eat. There was one last night at a new church in town. (Remember the one where Melody painted the beautiful murals?) We thought it might be fun to get take-out and come home and watch a movie. We had a coupon for Ruby Tuesdays and we ordered big and then shared a piece of white chocolate raspberry truffle cheesecake that I picked up when we were in St. Louis last weekend. (I'm allowing myself one day of each weekend to splurge.) Let me tell you something, eating like that is a LOT more enjoyable when you've been dieting all week. Maybe dieting isn't such a bad thing after all. So then there was the question of which movie. We couldn't think of one we both hadn't seen, but then we thought of one we have that Bobby has been wanting to watch for months but I was never really in the mood for it. Well, last night was the night. We watched Hot Rod. We laughed. We laughed a lot. And when it was over and we were getting ready to go pick up the kids, I laughed again until there were tears in my eyes. I started trying to think of people we could recommend this very stupid movie to, and I could only come up with one name. My brother Richard (a.k.a. Dick- I'm not kidding). Love you man!

Enjoy this clip. It may have been my favorite part of the whole movie.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

A juxtaposition

I have really sad news. I'm just devastated. After 8 or more weeks of rigorous exercise- I've lost count- I'm not quite seeing the results I'd like, so I'm resorting to (gasp!) dieting for the next seven weeks until I leave for my cruise. So the following recipe is one last hoorah for a while as I'm giving up decadent desserts and focusing more on (ew, gross) healthy recipes. I feel like a traitor. I'm going to miss my butter, cream, and chocolate so much.



Profiteroles with White Chocolate Ice Cream and Bittersweet Chocolate Sauce

Choux Pastry Puffs Recipe adapted from Tartelette's Choux a la Creme with modifications from Baking with Julia

85g all-purpose flour
75ml water
75ml whole milk
65g unsalted butter
2 eggs + 1 egg white
1T sugar
pinch of salt

Preheat the oven to 425F. Set up a stand mixer with a paddle attachment.
Sift the flour and set aside. Heat the water, milk, butter, and salt to a full rolling boil. Stir the flour into the liquid with a heavy wooden spoon, adding it as fast as it can be absorbed, but not all at once or it will form clumps. Cook the paste, stirring constantly and breaking up lumps if necessary, until the mixture comes away from the sides of the pan, about 2 to 3 minutes.
Transfer the dough to the mixer bowl and stir at low speed to cool the paste slightly, so that the eggs will not cook when added. On medium-low, mix in the eggs one at a time, then the egg white. The dough should have the consistency of thick mayonnaise.
While the dough is still warm, place it in a pastry bag fitted with a large round tip. Pipe quarter-sized puffs about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment or a silicone mat, then use a moistened spoon (or finger) to smooth out the tails at the top.
Bake at for 15 minutes at 425F without opening the oven door, then reduce heat to 350F and continue to bake until done, about 7 to 12 minutes.
To check for doneness, remove one puff from the sheet and tap the underside with your fingers; it should feel firm and hollow. (If you undercook the puffs, they may deflate as they cool, so err on the side of golden brown rather than pale). When baked through, remove the puffs from the oven and let cool.


White Chocolate Ice Cream

I'm so thrilled to finally find a white chocolate ice cream recipe that I just love. This was adapted from David Lebovitz's website.
About 1 quart (1 liter)


2/3 cup (130 g) sugar
1 cup (250 ml) whole milk
1 cup plus 1 cup heavy cream (500 ml, total)
8 ounces (230 g) white chocolate, finely chopped
5 large egg yolks

1. Warm the sugar, the milk and 1 cup of heavy cream in a saucepan.

2. Put the chopped white chocolate in a large bowl.

3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, then gradually add some of the cream mixture, whisking constantly as you pour in the warm cream. Pour the warmed egg yolks back into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly and scraping the bottom with a heat-resistant spatula until the custard thickens enough to coat the spatula. Strain the custard into the white chocolate, and stir until the chocolate is completely melted. Add the remaining 1 cup of heavy cream and chill thoroughly. You can set the bowl over an ice bath to speed it up.

5. Chill mixture thoroughly, then freeze in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Easiest Chocolate Sauce Recipe

Confession time: I cheated and used a jar of Scharffen-Berger chocolate sauce I already had on hand. (It's delicious and locally made, so it's hard to feel too guilty.) But making your own chocolate sauce is dead simple with this recipe, which I've used in the past with great results.

6oz best-quality bittersweet chocolate, chopped
3T water
1/4 cup heavy cream

Set a a heatproof bowl set over a saucepan of simmering water. Melt all ingredients in the bowl, stirring until the mixture is smooth.

To assemble the profiteroles:
Cut each puff in half through the equator; it's easiest if you use a serrated knife. Place three bottom layers on each plate; top each with a small scoop of chartreuse ice cream. Place the tops on the puffs, and drizzle with chocolate sauce.


So out with the old and in with the new. Okay so maybe healthy recipes don't deserve that "ew, gross" I labeled them with before. I tried this one tonight for dinner and it was pretty good. A little on the spicy side. Since I'm serving this to little children, maybe next time I'll cut down the cayenne pepper a little more. But the point is, I think there definitely will be a next time.

Indian-Spiced Chicken Burgers

Serves 4.

  • 1 1/2 pounds (4 to 5) boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into rough chunks
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger (from a peeled 2-inch piece)
  • 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (from 1 lemon)
  • 1 tablespoon paprika
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • Vegetable oil, for grates
  • 4 (6-inch) whole-wheat pitas
  • 1 cucumber (8 ounces), halved lengthwise and thinly sliced on the diagonal
  • 1/2 cup fresh cilantro sprigs
  • Cumin yogurt sauce (see recipe below)

Directions

  1. Heat grill to medium-high. In a medium bowl, place chicken, scallions, ginger, lemon juice, paprika, cumin, cardamom, cayenne, 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt, and 1/2 teaspoon pepper; toss to combine. Set aside to marinate, at least 10 and up to 30 minutes.
  2. Transfer chicken mixture to a food processor; pulse until roughly chopped, but not pasty, 10 to 12 times. Gently form mixture into sixteen 3/4-inch-thick patties (about 3 tablespoons each).
  3. Moisten a folded paper towel with oil; grasp with tongs and rub over grates. Season patties with salt and pepper; grill until opaque throughout, 2 to 3 minutes per side.
  4. For the Cumin Yogurt Sauce: In a small bowl, combine 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin; season with coarse salt and ground pepper.
  5. Halve pitas crosswise (toast on grill, if you like). Into each pocket, place 2 chicken patties, cucumber slices, and cilantro sprigs. Serve with Cumin Yogurt Sauce.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

"Leg Up!"



We went bowling about a week ago as a family and we were so impressed with Sophie's natural talent for the art of bowling. Check out this scoreboard. "S" is for Sophie.



And now I'm turning this post over to Sophie so she share her bowling tips with you.

First, you use one of these thingies and a pair of gutters.
When your pretty orange ball comes back, be ready for it!


When your Dad tries to help you carry it, tell him to "go away!"

Last but definitely not least, you have to end each turn with a pretty leg lift like so:

Also make sure to have a pretty smile like this so nobody hates you for being so awesome.

Chicken and Angel Hair Pasta with Lemon Caper Sauce


Well, this picture is awful. Just terrible, but the dish was fantastic. This is one of many delicious recipes that I have come by via Ruth Gough. Judging by her recipes- and not her adorable figure- she loves a good creamy sauce just like me. The original recipe is written for shrimp instead of chicken- which I'm sure is fabulous- but since I live with three people who don't appreciate the beauty of shrimp, I was forced to substitute.

A note about the recipe. I made this Tuesday night in a mad panic between two appointments. I was in a huge rush and totally forgot to add the seasonings (the white pepper, salt, and parsley.) I didn't miss them at all! But I'm sure they would taste great. So I italicized the ingredients I didn't use and the directions I didn't follow. White pepper always makes me a bit nervous anyway. It's so strong and overpowering and should be used sparingly!

One more thing- don't leave out the capers. You can find them in your grocery store. They come in a small jar and they'll last forever.

Chicken and Angel Hair with Lemon Caper Cream Sauce

1/2 c olive oil
1 tsp. garlic, chopped
2 T capers, drained
1/4 c white wine
2 lemons, juiced
2 c heavy cream (I used 1 cup cream, 1 cup half and half)
2 chicken breasts, sliced, seasoned and sauteed in olive oil
1 lb. shrimp, peeled and drained
Salt to taste
white pepper to taste
1 tsp parsley, chopped
8 oz. angel hair pasta, cooked according to package directions
1 lemon, thinly sliced

Heat oil in saute pan. Add garlic and capers and cook for 30 seconds. Add wine and lemon juice; cook until reduced by half. Add heavy cream and reduce until desired consistency is reached. Add shrimp and cook for 2 minutes. Turn. Cook for 2 minutes or until sauce slightly thickens. Season sauce with salt, white pepper and parsley. Add hot, drained pasta and chicken slices (if using) to sauce, stirring to thoroughly coat pasta. Add lemon slices. Transfer to large serving platter, sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Car dancers of the world, unite and take a bow

Do you ever feel like there is one song for a Monday morning to get you going, and sometimes you're lucky enough to have your local radio station pick it out for you and play it? Well, today as I was driving Franny to school, getting ready to make a left onto Illinois from Baltimore and wiping the sleepers from my eyes, I heard that very special Monday morning energy song. Today that song was "Everybody Dance Now" by C & C Music Factory. I always wonder what my kids are thinking when they watch me start dancing in the driver's seat, using the steering wheel as my own personal drum set and singing my heart out. They are probably thinking, "my mom is a freak!"

I'm curious if anyone else out there is a car dancer? I'm seriously asking. Show yourselves. I always try to get my kids to join me. It's been a slow process, but they're coming around. Sophie will sometimes try to copy my moves and I see Franny bobbing her head fairly often. I am hoping that someday one of my friends will tell me, "I saw you driving in the car and totally rocking out!" I don't think that will ever happen though because I always keep an eye on the road (good thing, right?) and as soon as I see a car that looks familiar I stop what I'm doing, put on my mom face, and calmly smile and wave as I pass my fellow mini-van. I should be true to myself.

EVERYBODY DANCE NOW!

Since I know you are dying to hear that song now I'm including a little playlist featuring that song along with some others from my youth. Enjoy!


Get a playlist! Standalone player Get Ringtones!


I'm so happy right now.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Love At Home

I don't want to blog tonight. I just don't feel like it. But I keep coming back to this computer. I keep clicking on "New Post." Then I keep walking away. I don't think I'm going to be able to go to sleep tonight until I do it. So I'll just do it so I can go to bed already.

My Mom's birthday has always crept up on me. February is such a short month and March 1st always comes before I know it. So when I was sitting in church today and saw the date on the newsletter I received in Relief Society, I nearly jumped out of my chair. I thought about it once last week, but then not again. Today is my mother's birthday. She would have been 54. One of my first thoughts that horrible night in July 2007, when I began to understand that my Mom wasn't going to make it was, "but I still haven't bought her a birthday present!" I always thought it was kind of weird that was one of the first places my mind went.

There's not a lot I have to say tonight about my Mom's birthday. It's been interesting though, how all weekend my thoughts have turned to my family. Not just my immediate family, but my extended family. Sants, Meibos's, Warners, and Kimballs- all of them. And most if not all of these thoughts led to memories that included my mom. I always knew there was something about this Sunday School teacher I really liked that reminded me of someone. I finally figured out today that person is my Uncle Kevin (my dad's brother.) I've always loved the story my Mom used to tell of when my Mom and Dad were engaged and the whole family went to pick up Kevin after his mission at L.A.X. It was the first time she ever met him and my mom and Kevin argued the whole way home. He was probably spouting off about something my Mom didn't agree with and she took offense and let him have it. So funny. It reminded me of how much fun Sunday dinners were at my Grandma's house in Provo. How much I love my cousins and how nice it was to see them so often. Last night we were watching Law and Order and one of the characters was a judge who was suffering from dementia and had to step down from the bench. I thought it was so sad and Bobby reminded me of my Uncle Merlin and how sharp his memory was even in his late nineties. How he could remember so many of his life experiences and recount them in great detail, remembering the names of people and the year these experiences occurred. It was so hard for my Mom when her Uncle Merlin passed away. We all loved him very much. Then the practice hymn today in R.S. was "Love at Home." That reminded me of my great aunt Marinette. Good old Aunt Marinette. My Mom used to tell us this story about when she used to visit them when she was a kid. If she was in town and my mom and her siblings were fighting, Aunt Marinette would follow them around the house singing, "Love at Home" under her breath and it would drive them crazy. Then I thought about this time that Aunt Marinette was visiting us in Huntington Beach and my Dad took us all to see "Back to the Future 2." When we walked out of the movie my Mom was ticked. She was like, "Cole, I can't believe you took us to see this movie." She didn't think it was appropriate for us kids or Aunt Marinette. "And with my Aunt Marinette here!" Then my aunt piped in with, "The last movie I saw in the theater was Pinocchio." Classic.

People play that game the six degrees of Kevin Bacon or whatever. I haven't tested this theory, but I'm pretty sure I could link every aspect of my life to my mother in some way. At least I felt like that at the time of her death. Because if she wasn't directly involved, then she and I had talked about it. I talked to her about everything. And she cared about everything I had to say. I find myself trying to keep that link up even now. For example when I'm shopping, I might pick something in her favorite color instead of mine so that every time I look at it I think of her.

Happy Birthday, Mom. I love you.

I used to leave notes like this one for her when she and my Dad would go out of dates and leave us home with a sitter.
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