Monday, March 29, 2010

Pork and Lemon Orzotto and Caesar Salad Dressing

I've been slightly obsessed with orzo lately, and also wanting to try some risotto recipes, so this recipe jumped out at me. While we were in Springfield, we stopped at a Salvation Army and I grabbed Giada's "Everyday Pasta" cookbook for a measly three dollars! I was not disappointed at all. Very tasty little dish, but something tells me that mushrooms would make a nice addition to the little party that is Pork and Lemon Orzotto.

Pork and Lemon Orzotto

from Every Day Pasta by Giada De Larentiis

3 1/2 cups reduced- sodium chicken broth
3 T unsalted butter
3/4 cup finely chopped onion
1 lb. orzo pasta
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

Herb Vinaigrette
Zest and juice of 1 large lemon
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 Tbs chopped fresh basil
2 Tbs chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1 Tbs chopped fresh thyme
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
pinch of cayenne pepper

Pork chops
3 Tbs olive oil
4 boneless pork loin chops, about 2 inches thick (although my pork chops were barely 1 inch thick)
salt and freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

For the orzotto, in a medium saucepan, bring the 3 1/2 cups of broth to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover the broth and keep hot over low heat.

Melt 2 Tbs of the butter in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until tender but not brown, about 3 minutes. Add the orzo and stir to coat with the butter. Add the wine and simmer until the wine has almost completely evaporated, about 3 minutes. Add 1/2 cup of the simmering broth and stir until almost completely absorbed, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking the pasta, adding the broth 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly and allowing each addition of broth to absorb before adding the next, until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite and the mixture is creamy, about 20 minutes total.

Meanwhile, combine all the vinaigrette ingredients in a small jar or tight-sealing plastic container. Shake well and set aside.

For the pork, heat the olive oil in a large, heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Season the pork with salt and pepper. When the oil is hot, carefully place the pork chops in the skillet. Remove the pork from the pan and cover loosely with foil to rest. Pour off the excess oil from the pan and return it to medium heat. Pour the 1/2 cup of chicken broth into the skillet and, using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Turn off the heat.

To finish the orzotto, remove the pan from the heat. Stir in the broth from the pork skillet, the Parmesan cheese, the remaining tablespoon of butter, and the salt and pepper.

Spoon the orzotto onto a serving platter (or onto individual plates). Slice each chop into 1/2 inch thick strips and arrange the meat on top of the orzotto. Drizzle with the herb vinaigrette. Serve immediately.

Caesar Salad Dressing
adapted from Ina Garten's Barefoot Contessa Parties!

I love this salad dressing so much. It's become a bit of a problem. I don't have any in the house right now and just preparing this blog post and thinking about it is literally causing my mouth to fill with saliva. I just might go make some when I'm finished here. It is that good.
  • 1 extra-large egg yolk at room temperature*
  • 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
  • 2 large cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (3 lemons)
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups good mild olive oil
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
For the dressing, place the egg yolks, mustard, garlic, anchovies, lemon juice, salt, and pepper into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until smooth. With the food processor running, slowly pour the olive oil through the feed tube (as though you were making mayonnaise), until thick. Add the grated Parmesan cheese and pulse 3 times.

For dessert on this particular night, I thought the kids might enjoy ice cream sundaes. They did, and so did I unfortunately. For three days, it was all I could think about. Uh-oh, is it just me or does an ice cream sundae sound amazing right now? Everything we used was store-bought except for this delicious hot fudge sauce.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

"Sorry about the drama, we just hit a deer with our car."

Franny has been in need of some pretty serious dental work for quite a while now. Actually last summer was when we first became aware that she needed to have some cavities filled. She had to have a crown put on, a tooth removed, a spacer put in and three cavities filled. We were referred to a pediatric dentist in Columbia and made the drive down early Friday morning. Bobby scooped the girls out of the car and put them in the van hoping they would just go to sleep. Instead they had a lot of questions. Sophie wanted to know why we were going to the dentist at night time?

About a half an hour into our trip we saw the sun beginning to rise and we were talking about the pretty colors and the horizon, etc. I realized I had forgotten to tell Franny's teacher she wouldn't be at school that day so I picked up my cell phone to leave them a message. (It was only about 6:45 AM.) Here's an idea of what that message sounded like:

"Hi, this is Katherine. My daughter Franny won't be at school today because she's having some dental work done in Columbia. Would you please let her teacher know she won't be there... Bobby, Bobby- there's a deer. Right there. Deer, deer, deer.... AAAAHHHHHHH!!!!! [Thud] Oh my gosh! Oh! Sorry about the drama, we just hit a deer with our car." Click.

Isn't that the funniest phone message ever? If I were working in that office, that message would have totally made my day. Seriously, I am such a spaz.

So anyway, back to the deer. Poor stupid deer. I saw the deer start running across the lanes of the highway from a pretty far distance. We had quite a bit of time to react, but as Bobby adjusted his speed with his breaks so that he could avoid killing a large and panicked animal, the deer adjusted her (we think it was a doe anyway) speed to match ours and was actually aiming for us. We felt like there was nothing we could do. The deer leaped at our car and hit the beam that separates the windshield from the driver's window. We're afraid that if our car was a second faster than where we were, he would have slammed through the window right into Bobby! While we recognize that "lucky" would have been not to hit any deer at all, we do feel very lucky that the none of us were hurt and the damage to the car was minimal.

Another fortunate thing for us was that a road worker pulled up about two cars behind us, turned on his hazards, and told Bobby he would move the deer for us. (The deer was still alive but struggling.) So Bobby got back in the car and we drove the rest of the way to see the dentist. So the morning started off pretty weird.

Franny had to be put under anesthesia again for the dental procedure. (She was just recently put under for a tonsillectomy that I have been meaning to blog about here. I'll get to it.) She did a lot better when she came out of it this time. They made her a little cocktail with Verced and something else to help calm her before separating her from us and putting her out. She's pretty cute when she's high. She said, "I loovveee you Moooommm...." with very slurred speech. She was stroking my hair and my face and looking up at me with a goofy smile. It was pretty cute. She was really annoyed with the spacer in her mouth at first, but she seems to have gotten used to it.

Later than night Bobby and I were in the office watching "The Office" when the girls came in. All of the sudden my calendar alerted me that our town's Daddy-Daughter dance was starting in 15 minutes. Bobby was pretty excited to take Franny, but she couldn't decide if she wanted to go. One minute she did, the next minute she didn't. It was a little frustrating, but we knew she must be tired. But Sophie said she did want to go, so the two of them went. I snapped this picture before they left:


I could tell it meant a lot to Sophie to have that one on one time with Daddy. They were walking out to the car and Sophie said to Bobby, "Are we going on a date?" She was exhausted from waking up so early, so they weren't gone too long, but from what I hear there was plenty of Hannah Montana and Taylor Swift to dance to- just what Sophie loves. I have to say I was really grateful all day for Bobby- for coming with us to help with Franny's dental procedure and then that night for taking Sophie out at the last minute, before he had even had a chance to eat dinner. He was kicking back and relaxing in comfortable clothes, but as soon as he realized that Sophie really wanted to go he had a shirt and tie on in about five minutes. I just really like him a lot.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Break in Springfield

We spent a couple of days during Spring Break in Springfield, IL. Bobby and I have been wanting to check out the Abraham Lincoln sites as well as a Frank Lloyd Wright home there. So we went for it and we are so happy we did! Our first stop was the Lincoln home. Abraham Lincoln and his family lived there for seventeen years before moving to the White House and I believe it was the only home they ever owned. It was really cool to walk around his neighborhood and inside his home and get a good look at what the interior of his house may have looked like.

Our girls are a lot of fun to travel with. They love being on the go and it makes family trips a total blast. Thank goodness for that! We wondered if we were crazy to plan a not-so-kid-friendly vacation, but they did great. We were sure to break things up with a couple of trips to candy stores, time in the hotel pool, and some kid-friendly restaurants.

Another "must-see" for us in Springfield was the Dana-Thomas house built by Frank Lloyd Wright. I saw the Robie house in Chicago last year and that is the only other FLW site I've had the opportunity to see. This one was really impressive because it still holds so much of the home's original furniture. I just can't get over how far ahead of his time Frank Lloyd Wright was. Bobby and I were trying to imagine what he would come up with if his career were starting now. I can tell you one thing- he would totally have his own show on HGTV. And I would watch it. There was a bowling lane in the basement. It was freaking awesome.

We also went to the Lincoln Presidential museum. Admission was a little pricey but totally worth it. I was really impressed and learned a lot about our former president. I got a little teary-eyed watching a perplexed Franny look at one exhibit where an auctioneer was standing next to a small boy who's parents were being sold into slavery and separated leaving the boy alone. I held my breath and waited for the question I knew was coming about what kind of scene was being depicted here. It's hard to explain things like assassination and slavery to such small children. But please, how long do I think I can shield my babies from the less than pleasant things in life? Anyway, that was something I hadn't really prepared myself for when we decided to take a trip to Springfield. Sophie was really upset when she found that "Hamalon Lincoln" died. She told a stranger in our hotel's elevator like it happened yesterday.

I like how Franny is holding little Willie Lincoln's hand in this picture.

They weren't all smiles and cheerful the entire time. Although I think this picture of Sophie was staged. These were both taken in "Mary's Attic"- which was a children's room where you could play with a large doll house designed to look like Abraham Lincoln's Springfield home. You could dress up in period clothes, play games the Lincoln kids may have played, and pretend to cook in a play kitchen.

The last thing we did was visit the Lincoln tomb. The building is has some structural problems so we weren't able to go on top. But we were able to go inside and see where Lincoln, his wife, three of his sons, and his only grandson are buried.

This is Franny rubbing Lincoln's nose for good luck.

Here's a cute picture of Bobby and the girls in front of a temporary tomb where they kept Abraham Lincoln's body before he was moved to the larger building above. And here's a picture of the girls sitting on the steps of the Old State Capitol building.

And guess who lost another tooth!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Lemon Streusel Muffins

Franny has recently become obsessed with muffins. She loves them! So if I ever want to make her day, all I have to do is whip up a batch of muffins. I don't think that kid has met a muffin she doesn't like yet. I should get a little more creative and hide zucchini and carrots; but for now, I'm sticking to what I love- recipes like this:

Lemon Streusel Muffins

1 1/2 cups flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 eggs
1/2 cup plain yogurt
1/2 cup butter, melted
1 Tb grated lemon peel
2 tsp fresh lemon juice

For the streusel:
3 Tb flour
3 Tb sugar
1 Tb cold butter

For the glaze:
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 Tb fresh lemon juice

In a large bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, yogurt, butter, lemon peel and lemon juice. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Mix, just until moistened. Let batter rest for 5 minutes. Grease or paper line muffin cups and fill the cups 3/4 full.
In a small bowl, combine flour, sugar and butter. Using your hands or a pastry blender, mix until it resembles coarse crumbs. Sprinkle the streusel over the batter.
Bake muffins at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center of the muffin comes out clean. Cool for 5 minutes and remove onto a wire rack.
Mix together the powdered sugar and enough lemon juice to make a thin glaze. Drizzle over warm muffins. (My glaze ended up so thin that I just brushed it on over the streusel that kind of melted into a glaze itself. Very tasty.)

Saturday, March 20, 2010

That kid.

Sophie is so hilarious. That kid loves to make us laugh. And if she does get a laugh, you can bet you're going to hear that joke at least a dozen more times.

The other day Bobby and I were hanging out in our room and Sophie walked in and slammed the door. Hard. It was startling. I said:

"Sophie! Why did you do that?"

Sophie: "I just slammed the door really hard."

Me: "What makes you think you can do that?"

Sophie: "Because I'm so awesome."

It's hard to argue with that logic.

Last week for Family Home Evening we taught the girls about tithing. They recently started receiving an allowance and they are really excited about money and their new piggy banks, so we thought it would be a good time for that particular lesson. Bobby asked the girls:

"Why does Heavenly Father need our money?"

Sophie: "Because he wants to put it in his piggy bank."

And here she is very comfortable at the BBQ restaurant we ate at on our recent trip to Springfield, IL. This kid knows how to have a good time.

Friday, March 19, 2010

St. Patrick's Day Dinner 2010


I just love St. Patrick's Day dinner. This year I tried only one new recipe- it was for Colcannon, and it was definitely a hit. I made quite a few changes from the original recipe I found- so here they are below:

Adapted from the Food Network


  • 3 pounds potatoes, scrubbed
  • 1 stick butter
  • 1 cups hot milk
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • Salt
  • 1/4 head cabbage, cored and finely shredded
  • 1/2 lb. bacon, fried and coarsely chopped
  • Chopped parsley leaves, for garnish


Peel and roughly chop potatoes, and boil them until tender for about 15 minutes. Mash thoroughly to remove all the lumps. Add 1 stick of butter in pieces. Gradually add hot milk, stirring all the time. (I only needed a little less than 3/4 cup of the milk.) Season with a few grinds of black pepper and a teaspoon or so salt.

Boil the cabbage in unsalted water until it turns a darker color. Add 2 tablespoons butter to tenderize it. Cover with lid for 2 minutes. Drain thoroughly before returning it to the pan. Chop into small pieces.

Add cabbage, scallions, and bacon to mashed potatoes, stirring them in gently. Sprinkle with parsley and check for seasonings.

And here's a list of the rest of the players at this year's annual St. Patrick's Day dinner:

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Orzo with Roasted Vegetables

This is one of my favorite Barefoot Contessa recipes EVER!!!

I leave out the scallions when I make this. I also left out the basil and the pine nuts. I'm a huge fan of both, but I grow my own basil in the summer and it's hard for me to spend so much on it at the grocery store. Unfortunately I was out of pine nuts and my grocery store charges a whopping EIGHT dollars for about six ounces. Please! But you know- it tasted great without all that extra stuff. More than great. I LOVE this recipe. Enjoy it.



  • 1 small eggplant, peeled and 3/4-inch diced
  • 1 red bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 yellow bell pepper, 1-inch diced
  • 1 red onion, peeled and 1-inch diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 pound orzo or rice-shaped pasta

For the dressing:

  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)
  • 1/3 cup good olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

To assemble:

  • 4 scallions, minced (white and green parts)
  • 1/4 cup pignolis (pine nuts), toasted
  • 3/4 pound good feta, 1/2-inch diced (not crumbled)
  • 15 fresh basil leaves, cut into julienne


Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Toss the eggplant, bell peppers, onion, and garlic with the olive oil, salt, and pepper on a large sheet pan. Roast for 40 minutes, until browned, turning once with a spatula.

Meanwhile, cook the orzo in boiling salted water for 7 to 9 minutes, until tender. Drain and transfer to a large serving bowl. Add the roasted vegetables to the pasta, scraping all the liquid and seasonings from the roasting pan into the pasta bowl.

For the dressing, combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper and pour on the pasta and vegetables. Let cool to room temperature, then add the scallions, pignolis, feta, and basil. Check the seasonings, and serve at room temperature.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Franny's Rainbow Quilt

Franny has been asking for a "rainbow quilt" since before Christmas. After Sophie got one for her birthday and Bobby got one for Christmas, I guess Franny wanted in on the fun. Bobby found this video online and the girls love it. Ever since then Franny's been a big fan of rainbows. In fact, right after Christmas we took the whole family to Walmart for a shopping trip. We were hurrying past the fabric section and Franny spotted a fleece she liked with a rainbow pattern. She called me over and said, "Mommy! Mommy! For my rainbow quilt!" It was so cute. I didn't end up using the fleece, but luckily Walmart actually had a cotton fabric with a rainbow pattern that Franny liked even more. The rest of the fabric just came from my stash. Again, I borrowed the idea from a quilt from the Red Pepper Quilt lady. I love her style.

This is the first time I've ever met a deadline when finishing a quilt. It took about a week start to finish. I think it measures about 4 feet by 6 feet. I quilted it using my regular sewing machine. I bought a walking foot, but I haven't been able to figure it out. I just picked some random spots on the quilt and worked outward in kind of a rectangular spiral until it was all quilted.

We gave it to her after cake and ice cream on her birthday. I was so glad we had gifts wrapped and the quilt finished because the poor kid was pretty sick on her birthday and watching her open her gifts was the first time I saw her really excited the whole day. For a while she kept telling me, "Mom, I really love my quilt." She still does say that occasionally. Little sweetheart.

Poor little sicko.
A couple of extra shots from her birthday. We took her to school even though she was sick just to share cupcakes with her friends. She was so excited about it- I just couldn't bare for her not to go. The rosettes were fun to make. I just bought the fondant, dyed it with food coloring, and followed these instructions from Bakerella.


I wanted to thank everyone who left comments and sent emails yesterday. I never did figure out the right thing to do- we had dance lessons, Family Home Evening (the girls started getting an allowance yesterday), homework, and I babysat a 6-month old all day yesterday- but at least I have a plan for next year thanks to you and all your suggestions. I think maybe a little birthday party would be nice, and I loved the idea of a video. I think my kids would really enjoy that. I have some footage of her talking, laughing, playing with the kids. It would be nice to put all of that onto one DVD. So that is on my list of things to do for next year. I'll have some See's standing by too, just in case. :)

Monday, March 1, 2010

March 1st

For as long as I can remember, I've always known that my Mom's birthday was on the first day of March. It's a pretty easy date to remember. Today she would have turned 55. It's the third birthday to have passed since her death and I still don't know what to do with it. Any suggestions? The first year I sent gifts to my family members, because I thought the one way I could do something for my mom was by serving the people she loves the most. Now I feel like if they are lucky enough to have the day pass and not remember, then I don't want to be the one to remind them. Last year I did something but I don't remember what. So obviously not a keeper. I considered briefly this morning baking a cake and having a birthday party, but that just seems kind of weird and I don't really feel like celebrating anything.

I would like to celebrate that I only have a little over a month left for this pregnancy. But it also reminds me that another milestone in my life is approaching that my Mom won't be here to physically witness. I've never left the hospital with a new baby without my Mom there to help and keep me company. It's not that I don't think I can do it without her. I know I can do it. At least I think I can do it. It would just be a lot more fun if she were going to be around.

Maybe the thing to do on her birthday is watch a movie and eat See's candy? Mental note: next February, order some See's candy and have it on the ready for March 1st. You residents of Utah and California don't know how good you have it.

It's been a long time since I've written about my Mom. It's not for lack of thinking of her. She is very often on my mind. And very often discussed in our home, thanks to Sophie. Man, it's a good thing she wasn't old enough to talk when my Mom passed away. I don't think I could have handled it then. This kid is inquisitive- full of questions about my Mom. It's very sweet but sometimes her questions feel a little bit like a kick in the stomach. Of course she doesn't have any idea. The line of questioning usually starts with, "what are my grandma's names?" (Louise and Marianne). "And Louise lives in Idaho?" (yes) "And Marianne died?" (yes) "But I don't want her to died. Can she get better?" She's just curious about Grandma, where she is, what happened to her and why? I've learned to have a sense of humor about her curiosity. The first day we were in California, we were at Julia and Grant's house meeting the babies when my grandparents rode in. Sophie heard all of us calling my Dad's mom, "Grandma," and she ran up to me with excitement and exclaimed, "Grandma's not dead anymore!!" At those moments, when you can either choose to laugh or cry, I try really hard to laugh. But it really makes me happy that she wants to talk about grandma so often. It's very sweet.

Well, I hope one of these years I figure out something to do on her birthday. Something that simultaneously honors her memory, comforts the people she loves the most, and also makes me feel better. Hmmm... sounds like a tall order. Maybe chocolate and a movie is the way to go... I'll let you know. There's got to be some chocolate around here somewhere...
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