Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pastina wth Carrots & Peas

We have a battle of wills going on at our house. It involves a 4-year-old and an almost 2-year-old, who do not want to eat their dinner. In fact, they don't want to eat much of anything that is good for them. So, usually dinner time involves force-feeding the baby, until he realizes that his dinner actually tastes good. With the 4-year-old it is a case of "you have to take 4 bites of everything on your plate," which falls into the category of things I swore I would never do to my children.

So, I have been looking for interesting ways to encourage them to make better choices. I was inspired when I saw this recipe for pasta. Because, just like most kids, they eat pasta! {Pastina with Peas and Carrots}
orginal recipe here
4 oz pastina or other small-shaped pasta
1 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 small onion, finely diced
1 medium carrots, peeled and diced into 1/2-inch pieces
1/2 cup low-sodium beef stock
1/2 cup frozen petite peas, thawed
1/4 cup cream cheese, at room temperature
1/4 cup mascarpone cheese, at room temperature
kosher salt

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until tender, stirring occasionally, about 8 to 10 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of the pasta water.

In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally until soft, about 7 minutes. Add the carrots and stock and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes. Add the peas to the pan and cook for 2 minutes until the peas are warmed through and the carrots are tender. Stir in the cooked pasta. Remove the pan from the heat and add the cheeses. Stir until the mixture is incorporated and forms a sauce. Season with salt, to taste. You can thin the sauce with the reserved pasta water, if needed.

Friday, January 29, 2010

Carmelized Onions & French Onion Soup

I love French Onion Soup! I have always enjoyed it at restaurants, and I decided it was time to give it a try at home. I saw an easy recipe on Semi-Homemade that pushed my over the ledge of fear and convinced me that I could do it. But, after reading some of the reviews, I decided to make some changes here at home. It all started with caramelizing the onions.

{Carmelized Onions}
5 onions, sliced
3 Tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt, sugar, herbes de provence
1/2 tsp pepperCombine all ingredients in a large pot or pan. Stir to combine. Set temperature to low, just above a simmer. Now, wait, this is going to take anywhere from 1 3/4 - 2 1/2 hours. But, it will be worth it.Stir occassionally, to rotate the onions position in the pan. These were just starting to color.
The final product of the onions should look golden "caramel"-colored like these. Now, onto the soup.

{French Onion Soup with Gruyere Toastlettes}
1 batch caraelized onions
1 qt beef broth
2 cans beef consomme soup
1 packet onion soup mix
1 crusty baguette
shredded gruyere cheese

Combine all ingredients in your slow cooker. Cook on high for 4 hours, or low for 8 hours. You can add up to 2 cups of additional water if needed.
Slice baguette into about 1/2 inch slices. Place on a cookie sheet. Top each slice with 2 Tbsp of the gruyere. Broil in the oven until cheese is melted and bubbly.
Ladle soup into bowls and top with a baguette slice. Serve immedately.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Our Favorite: Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies

There are very few things in life that I can pin down an absolute favorite. But, these cookies are one of those things. In fact, in my "food pics" folder they occur on three different dates, and I decided it was time to share the recipe. {Chocolate Chocolate Chip Cookies}
Cream together:
1 ½ cups softened butter
1 ½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
Add and beat until fluffy:
2 large room temperature eggs
1 teaspoons vanilla
Add and beat well:
1 large package of Instant Chocolate pudding mix
Combine just till well mixed:
2 cups oats measured and then ground
2 1/3 cups flour
1 T. baking soda
2 cups white chocolate chips

Shape into perfect little balls like my sister, Kimberlee, taught me how to do. And bake at 375 degrees for about 10 minutes. Then, enjoy your cookies!

Now, if you should end up not wanting an entire batch of cookies lying around your house, as is the time of year for weight-loss resolutions, try this little trick. Simply shape the dough into single cookies and place on a parchment lined cookie sheet.

Pop into your freezer for about 2 hours to harden the outside of the dough balls. Remove from freezer, and bag.

Label your bags clearly. I like to include: contents, cooking instructions, and the date bagged.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Bread Bowls & Broccoli Cheddar Soup

On Sunday, we had Broccoli Cheddar Soup and Homemade Bread Bowls. I started the bread bowls before we went to Church, and it was prefect timing for a cozy dinner. Because of a commitment that I had with my Church calling, my husband made the soup. And it was delish!
{Bread Bowls}
adapted from King Arthur Flour
4 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/4 cup nonfat dry milk
2 teaspoons yeast
2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons oil
1 1/2 cups lukewarm water, enough to make a smooth, soft dough

Let yeast dissolve in warm water until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add the rest of the ingredients—by hand, mixer or bread machine— and knead till you've created a smooth dough.
Allow the dough to rise, covered, for 45 minutes; it should become puffy. Divide the dough into 5-6 pieces, depending on how large you want your bread bowl to be. Roll each piece into a ball. Place on a lightly greased or parchment covered baking sheet.
Cover the bread bowls with greased plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 4 hours (or up to 24 hours); this step will give the bread bowls extra flavor, and a delightfully crisp-chewy texture. Two or more hours before serving, remove the bread bowls from the refrigerator. Uncover, and let them sit for about one hour while you preheat the oven to 425°F.
Just before baking, slash the top surface of the bowls several times with a sharp razor/knife to allow them to expand. Bake for 22 to 28 minutes, until the bowls are deep brown, and sound hollow when thumped on the bottom. Remove from the oven, and cool on a rack.

*I divided my dough into 6 pieces and each bread bowl held a little over 1/2 C of soup. They were teeny, but great for the kids!

{Broccoli Cheese Soup}
1 tablespoon melted butter
1/2 medium chopped onion
1/4 cup melted butter
1/4 cup flour
2 cups half-and-half cream
2 cups chicken stock
1/2 lb fresh broccoli
1 cup carrot, julienned
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
8 ounces grated sharp cheddar cheese
salt and pepper

Sauté onion in butter. Set aside.
Cook melted butter and flour using a whisk over medium heat for 3-5 minutes. Stir constantly and add the half & half.
Add the chicken stock. Simmer for 20 minutes.
Add the broccoli, carrots and onions. Cook over low heat 20-25 minutes.
Add salt and pepper. Remove 1/2 of broccoli and carrots. Puree remaining mixture with a stick blender. Return broccoli and carrots to pot. Return to heat and add cheese. Stir in nutmeg.

Monday, January 25, 2010

This Week's Dinner Menu

Last week was crazy around here. We decided to take a day trip to Portland while my husband went down for business. And, I didn't even go to the grocery store this week, other than a few stops my husband made for random ingredients. So, sorry for the lack of posting, but we have been enjoying yummy food, and I promise to update soon!

Sunday - Broccoli Cheese Soup in Homemade Bread Bowls (Just wait until you see the pictures!)
Monday - Take-out Thai food
Tuesday - "Meal Swap" night
Wednesday - Baked Creamy Chicken Taquitos, spanish rice and black beans
Thursday - French Onion Soup, and Gruyere toastlettes (yes, that is what I have dubbed them)
Friday - "Breakfast for Dinner" waffles with yummy toppings
Saturday - Ultimate Chicken Cordon Bleu, peas, fluffy new potatoes (throw back to this week last year)

Trying this for lunch with the kiddos, hopefully, tomorrow! I just so happen to have some mascapone cheese to use up. Yumm!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Amazing Chicken Pot Pie

We used this recipe for our Freezer Meals group last spring. And, I FINALLY got around to baking mine up. I am sad to say that I should have made it a lot earlier. My only problem is that my husband does not see the goodness of a casserole style meal between bread or crust. I know it is sad. But, I had to share so that everyone else may enjoy it.{Chicken Pot Pie with Parmesan Black Pepper Crust}
2 medium gold potatoes, diced, peeled if desired
20 baby carrots, sliced
1 T butter
1 stalk celery, sliced
1/2 large onion, diced
1 clove garlic, minced
1/2 package (5 oz) frozen peas
1/4 cup flour
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, diced
3/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
Top and bottom pie crusts

Start by placing diced potatoes and carrots into separate glass baking dishes and microwave on high until each are cooked through. Melt butter over medium heat and add celery, onions and garlic, sauté until tender. Cook peas in microwave or saucepan until heated through. Sprinkle in flour over onion mixture, cook and stir until golden brown. Add milk, cook and stir until thick and bubbly. Add carrots and potatoes, peas, chicken and seasonings, and stir together, cooking a minute longer if the sauce is too thin, taste, and add more salt and pepper if desired.

Pour filling into bottom pie crust, lay top crust over hot filling, pinch edges and slice vent holes into the top. Bake at 425F for about 30 minutes, checking to make sure you don't burn the edges.

OR, wrap in aluminum foil, put in a 2-gallon freezer bag, freeze for up to 3 months. Thaw in the fridge for 24 hours and bake at 375F for 35-45 minutes. You will probably have to put a circle of aluminum foil around the outside edge so it won't burn.

{Savory Pie Crust}
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
6 Tbs. ice water

Pulse flour, salt and pepper in food processor, add diced cold butter and pulse until coarse crumbs, add parmesan and pulse a couple of times to mix, stream in water until it all comes together, dough will still be slightly crumbly. Form into a 2 discs, wrap in plastic and chill in the refrigerator for 1 hour. Roll out to form crusts.

These recipes will make 1 9-inch Chicken Pot Pie. Filling and Crust recipes can easily be doubled.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Pasta con Broccoli

I attended a cooking class at PCC Natural Market called Pasta Everyday. It was incredible! And, I could not wait to share it with my family, so we did Sunday dinner at Mom and Dad's, but I cooked. Simple ingredients for an incredible taste - organic pasta, anchovies (try to find a 2 oz. jar like this one), broccoli, and bread crumbs.

{Pasta con Broccoli}
recipe courtesy of PCC
16 oz. large shaped pasta of your choice - orrechiette or chiocciole
1 lb broccoli, chopped
1/3 C olive oil
2 cloves garlic or to taste, crushed
2 oz. anchovies, drained
1/2 tsp dried red crushed peppers (I used 1/4 tsp for my family, otherwise, it is a little "kicky")
1/3 - 1/2 C parmigiano
4 oz. bread crumbs, fried in 1 Tbsp olive oil until golden

Cook pasta in salted water. Add broccoli for the last 5 minutes of pasta's cook time. Cook pasta to al dente, and drain.
In a large saucepan, heat olive oil. Saute garlic with anchovies and peppers. Stir to break up the anchovies, until they are "melted" into the sauce. Remove garlic, add pasta and broccoli. Saute for about 5 more minutes.
Transfer to serving platter. Sprinkle to parmigiano and breadcrumbs, toss lightly.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

This Week's Dinner Menu

Sunday - Spaghetti Bolognese, Herb Garlic Bread, salad, peas
Monday - macaroni and cheese for the littles, and leftovers for Mom
Tuesday - "Meal Swap" night
Wednesday - Amber's Turkey Enchiladas
Thursday - French Onion Soup, gruyere toasts, salad
Friday - celebrate daddy being home - Daddy and the boys go out to eat, Mommy goes here
Saturday - Homemade Pizza (per 4 year old's request)

Monday, January 4, 2010

Pizza Dough Seasoning!

After seeing this post over at Little Birdie Secrets, I was curious. So, of course, we had to have pizza tonight and try it out. Not ready to commit to a "big supply" of the stuff, I modified the recipe for my dough recipe.
{Pizza Dough Seasoning}
2 tsp cheddar cheese powder
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp onion powder
1/4 heaping italian seasoning

I mixed all the ingredients together, while my dough was kneading. I figured it was right around 1 tbsp, so I dumped it all in and mixed to incorporate. You gotta love the Bosch mixer for it's superiority when it comes to bread!

The crust smelled fantastic after it's rest period. And, the taste was great! Thanks, Little Birdies! Now, I am trying to figure out when to try their awesome bbq pork pizza idea that can be found over here.

This Week's Dinner Menu

Sunday - Dinner at Mom's
Monday - Homemade Pizza (with a twist)
Tuesday - "Meal Swap" Night
Wednesday - Pink-Eyed Bean Soup, rolls and salad
Thursday - Tuxedo Salad, rolls
Friday - Homemade Ravioli, salad, rolls, peas
Saturday - still working on that, it might be leftovers


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