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Sunday, April 29, 2012

Pseudo Paella/Jambalaya

The age old question, "What's for dinner," has become increasingly difficult for me to answer.  Not because I don't have a plan if it is asked in the morning, and not because something isn't already cooking, it simply may not have a name.

The name of a dish is especially important to my husband as I have discussed in previous posts.  However, it is important to at least be able to describe the meal in question with references all family members or diners will relate.  Sometimes I make, "those Mexican wrap things" and my family will know what I mean.  The contents of the wrap are:  refried beans, peppers, onions, cheese (cheddar or blend of cheddar/jack) and left over steak or chicken.  Neither burrito nor taco nor enchilada, the wraps are baked in the oven until the beans are bubbly and the cheese melted.  They may be topped with taco sauce, salsa or a verde sauce - up to the individual taste. 

Last night, I knew I had shrimp and chorizo so the combinations appeared in my head that included rice, peppers and whatever else I may have on hand that could be deemed appropriate.  Additional options could have included olives or onions, but instead I halved cherry tomatoes.  While my younger son had an idea of what was happening in the kitchen, he was pleasantly surprised when called to put his serving in a dish.



"Oh, you didn't say you were making Jambalaya."

Well, technically, I didn't.

When my husband came to the kitchen he said, "Wow, this looks good."  Perhaps that should be the name of all my future dinners.

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Would you? Could you?

The New York Times Dining section this week included the following article:  http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/25/dining/coming-home-to-a-neighbors-treat.html?_r=1&ref=dining
"The Culinary Definition of Neighborly," by Laura M. Holson and I started to really think about food as a gift. 

When my previous neighbors had their first child, I gave them a cold-cut platter on their first day home since I knew not only would the new parents not feel much like cooking, but inevitably family and friends would want to stop by and meet the baby.  Being able to offer guests a bite without any fuss seemed like a great gift to me.  The platter did seem to come in handy for them. 

However, I work with a woman who simply will not eat most food brought in from co-workers.  "I don't know what their kitchen is like, how clean they are, etc."  While I understand and can relate to her concerns, I am usually willing to take the risk for a home baked good and am especially glad I did not miss the recent 4 ingredient cookies.

When I had a surgery a few years ago, wonderful and thoughtful gifts of food from work included a warm and comforting chicken noodle soup and a rice pilaf that went beautifully with anything. 

For my sister's baby shower, her sister-in-law gave her a cooler full of home made frozen meals so the last thing the new mom would have to think about was, "what's for dinner." 

Holiday gift guides often rave about gifts from the kitchen and perhaps putting dry ingredients together in a cute mason jar for hot chocolate or cookie dough.  My thoughtful neighbors this past year gave us a basket loaded with goodies (of course many of them were already eaten before the photo shoot):



Meat also seems a popular choice for gift giving.  I once gave my future brother-in-law a cooler of Filet Mignon and I believe my other brother-in-law received some Omaha steak love at his retirement dinner from a family member. 

Food gifts go well beyond boxed chocolates but the jury seems to be out about giving and receiving home made culinary creations.  What are your thoughts on both giving and receiving food from a friend, neighbor, co-worker?  Will you eat it?  Would you cook for them or only give prepared food as a gift?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Salsa Goodness

I am a lover of salt, salty snacks, chips and dips.  I understand chocoholics and have experienced times when I felt like nothing else will do. 

However, I simply cannot imagine a life without salt.  I have a shaker habit that's hard to kick, and yes, will sometimes reach out for it without tasting my food first.  Horrifying.

I also can't think of a single savory item that I would not enhance with a bit of salt.  From asparagus to zucchini, I simply want it.  It has not been a physical issue, no high blood pressure or other ill effect, but I know my choice must be a bit on the extreme side judging by the reactions of those around me when I sprinkle on a little salt.

So, why should my snack habit not be a prime example of my love?  My pantry may contain both cookies and chips, but I will always go for the chips first.

I have tried to pair my love for crunchy thin snacks with the healthier choices now available and have dabbled in sea salt versions, baked veggies crisps, as well as multi-grain (my current favorite).  To ease my guilty conscience, I create a quick and fresh salsa with minimum ingredients:

Fresh Tomato
Green Bell Pepper
Onion
Salt and Pepper
A dash of olive oil
Sprinkle of garlic powder (or ground fresh if on hand)
All proportions are to your taste and by eye



When preparing, plan ahead for the number of people in the house at the time it will be eaten.  Even if you offer it to everyone before it is assembled, they may say, "no thank you," but once they see it in the bowl they will not be able to help themselves.  And, as the saying goes, no one can eat just one.  No one.


Tuesday, April 24, 2012

The Incredible, Edible...

When I started my day job four years ago, I was so excited about the on-site cafeteria, especially for breakfast.  We had welcome breakfasts and I thought it was simply fabulous to see platters of fruit, mini-bagels and pitchers of juice.  Soon I was addicted and going through the menu of options:  omelette's with sausage/mushroom, mixed veggies or just tomatoes, over easy eggs, hard boiled egg sandwiches, baked goods, bacon and egg sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly on a toasted english muffin, raisin bread toast, and the classic bacon with scrambled eggs.  Breakfast love.



No, I can't eat like this, nor do I want to, every day, but every once in awhile I will proclaim, "I need a bad girl breakfast," and when I do, this is what I want.  Most days I enjoy a single hard boiled egg on multi-grain or whole wheat toast, sometimes with a slice of tomato.  I went through a severe oatmeal period with fresh blueberries and a mid-morning banana is almost expected.  


Childhood through early adult-hood, breakfast was either skipped, late or cold cereal.  Now, I simply love breakfast at least 5 days per week.  It has also evolved as a great meal for socializing - not only lingering on the weekends in my kitchen with family, but meeting friends out either for the local fire department pancake breakfast or a local diner's fare.  A greatly underrated meal - breakfast - but when thought of, eggs are always top of mind.


An egg cooking challenge for me has been to mimic the perfect Egg's Benedict.  The problem?  The first time I had this dish it was at a lovely sidewalk cafe not far from New York's Central Park and really, who can replicate the meal without the entire experience?  Why try?  It was a perfectly toasted muffin, Canadian bacon, a slice of tomato, the poached egg and a heavenly Hollandaise sauce.  The soft, pillowy eggs high above the crispy muffin, the salty ham and fresh tomato all brought together under a silky blanket of sauce - oh the memory alone is making me salivate.  


So, instead I continue the culinary journey to instead add to the Egg's Benedict memory list and rather than compare and contrast, simply log on more versions, memories and stories.  A rainy Sunday seems the perfect time to take out the saucepan, the vinegar and give the poaching a whirl.  Literally.  A splash of vinegar in the simmering water, the wooden spoon stirred in a clockwise motion to create the desired whirlpool effect, the egg cracked first into a bowl then slowly lowered into the water for 3 minutes exactly.  


A single slice of double protein toast topped with a few thin slices of tomato and the plate is ready for the set eggs to be plated.  No sauce is fine, a bit of salt and pepper were added after the photo.




Monday, April 23, 2012

Smoothiepolitan

In these times we are very lucky to have a wide assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables at our disposal throughout the year.  Seasonal produce is a more critical factor when buying local, but really, we do have the ability to buy most anything at any time.

Also, we are a bit more discerning about our fresh foods.  We want them to be picture perfect, smell and feel fresh, while we prefer to buy them from a local farmer, some will settle for simply grown in this country and for others, all bets are off if they simply want an exotic hybrid in January.

Unfortunately, we also waste a large amount of food.  Though I have no real statistics handy, I am sure that in my house, we waste enough food to feed another human per year.  This may be a result of over-buying, improper storage or simply poor planning.  Whatever the cause, I am aware and trying to reduce the waste.  I have used a serrated knife to shave away the offending end of bread so that it is so thin, the remaining slice can still be toasted.  I frequently re-purpose cooked left-overs and now, I am policing the produce.

Strawberries were recently on sale and so I bought a full quart.  I love the look, smell, feel, everything about this wonderful fruit.  Though my older son prefers to "doctor" the berries with a Nutella dip, a coating of sugar or a melted chocolate chip sauce, he does eat them as well.  I watched the berries disappear except for maybe a dozen that were starting to lose their luster and worried they would soon be wasted.  What to do?

Smoothies!!


The almost unwanted strawberries, a fistful of blueberries, one banana,  a few ice cubes and a splash of milk... whir, whir, whir



No, no yogurt, no ice cream, nothing but fruit and a splash of milk.


                   
The fun part for me was putting mine in a martini glass.  Smoothies don't have to be boring and no one will ever know what the fruit looked like before it went in.  I've also used the bananas that everyone passes by.  As an extra bonus, hubby with high cholesterol will drink one and I feel good about sneaking some fruit in his diet!  

Friday, April 20, 2012

Restaurant X

A few weeks ago, during Hudson Valley Restaurant Week, I was a guest blogger for Liz Johnson's Small Bites food blog for the Journal News.


My reviews can be found here:
and


What an absolute treat for me as a food lover and blogger to be able to connect with everyone for such a great event (and for me, this was the second year).  To thank the bloggers (don't tell, but for me the joy of participating is its own reward) Jerry Novesky, Janet Crawshaw and Liz Johnson take us all out for a lovely dining experience and this year, we were hosted by Restaurant X in Congers, NY.




It is my nature to be early, especially when I am looking forward to an event or adventure and so I was 20 minutes ahead of schedule when I arrived.  A perfect opportunity to explore...

Part of the entrance

In the entry

The Bully Boy Bar

Something about the architecture and design...

Who wouldn't want to linger over a wonderful meal?

Let's meet for lunch -

or brunch (booked 3 weeks in advance)


 On to the Blogger Event...


Guests were given a choice of cocktails, I chose the rum punch - refreshing, without being too sweet and a perfect size portion for social sipping.  I was told the libation included a bit of Crown Maple Syrup.  Lovely.



 On the tables, a promise of things to come listed: 

A Selection of Passed Foods
Jumbo Asparagus Points with Prosciutto di Parma
Crown Maple Glazed Rohan Duck Breast
Assorted Asian Dumplings
A Bundle of Casar Salad
Lobster Cappuccino with Mascarpone Foam
Coconut Shrimp with Mustard Sauce
Japanese Crispy Salmon Roll Avocado & Sushi Rice
Spicy Rock Shrimp Ginger & Roquefort
Spring Ramp Risotto with Black Truffle
Braised Short Ribs "Wellington" Foie Gras & Madeira
Apple & Brie Turnover Crisp Phyllo
Coach Farms Goat Cheese & Onion Tartlet
Kumomoto Oyster with Ponzu & Ginger
Spring Lamb Chops with Rosemary Jus
A Spoonful of Lump Crabmeat with Creamed Spinach
Mousse of Foie Gras with Fig Jam

Desserts
Pecan Diamonds
Grand Marnier Truffles
Lemon Panna Cotta
Miniature Creme Brulee
Chocolate Dipped Strawberries
Raspberry Tartlet
Chocolate Dome with Caramel Center


 The creamed spinach with a pillow of lump crab meat was decadence in a spoon.



The oysters were beautiful and the snap of spicy ginger was like a quick wake up spark to the taste buds.

 Under normal circumstances I refrain from ordering lamb or veal, but the elegant tray of perfectly cooked chops were inviting, tender, and simply tasted wonderful.


The ramp risotto may have been one of my favorite dishes of the evening.  Delicately creamy balanced by the ramp's vibrant green onion-like freshness - I confess I had two servings.

Although many of the other wonderful dishes are not featured in photographs, each and every one were outstanding.  My personal favorites not already mentioned, included the Lobster Cappuccino, the spicy Rock Shrimp and the Crown Maple Glazed Rohan Duck.

I then began to worry.  I had sampled so many amazing dishes, I really did not allow room for dessert and soon the service and passing of the sweets began...


I did sample a strawberry as they are a sweet I will never be able to pass up.  I especially enjoyed and appreciated the X formation presentation as well as the varied dots and stripes of white chocolate.  Lovely.

Miniature cones with refreshing sorbet - I tried the Mango and felt refreshed and as if my palette had been spoiled.  Would I ever be able to eat "regular" food again? 


When I met Chef Peter X. Kelly, I had a million questions that went out of my head.  I wanted to ask the obvious, "What was the best part of your experience with Food Network?" and "Where do you find your creativity?" or "What's your favorite meal?"  I also wanted to ask, "What would your Mom be surprised to know you eat?"  Even now as I write, I can think of more I should have tried to discuss, but instead others wanted their turn and so I eased back into the background.  Happy to have had the opportunity.  And, also wiser.

Thank you everyone, to Jerry, Janet, Liz, Chef Peter X. Kelly, those behind the scenes, the participating restaurants, my fellow bloggers and my family (who secretly look forward to tagging along on my culinary adventures) - I had a fabulous time and look forward to the next chapter.

Also, thank you for the Blogger Swag!

Restaurant X & Bully Boy Bar on Urbanspoon


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Free Eats

I am not sure what to call the phenomen that occurs when free food is placed out for all at work, but it is certainly noteworthy and at times, personality changing.

Today a "Lunch and Learn" was held and so food was provided to attendees.  Sandwiches, bags of chips, canned soda, bottled water, LARGE chocolate chip cookies and brownies were served.  The remaining platters were put in our designated community food area, an email was sent to all of us notfiying us of the available goodies and the nonsensical feeding frenzy began first in stealth mode with a bit of restraint until people were comfortable enough to just enjoy.  The irony is, we'd all either attended the meeting or had eaten our own lunch, but the food slowly diappeared.

We do bring in treats from time to time and they are also placed in this particular area.  This year, we have created a policy, if it is your birthday, you can bring whatever kind of snack to share and most people seem to opt to bring in bagels rather than sweets.  Left overs are rare.

Holiday time becomes ridiculous.  Not only do many of us bring in food before a holiday, some also bring in uneaten desserts because, "we won't eat it at home."  Well, why the are we inhaling it at work????  Simply because it is available?  Because we are bored?  What happens to our brains when food is simply put in front of us?  And just so no one ever thinks this was a preachy post, I was the first one and often am, looking for the large chocolate chip cookie.  I also recently brought in a peanut butter/chocolate cake my family did not want.  On bagel days, I always hope for salt with veggie cream cheese.  Holiday time last year, I brought in fried pumpkin cutlets and fresh Italian bread - delish!  Not sure yet what I will bring in for my birthday, maybe an ice cream sundae bar?  Hope someone brings in a snack tomorrow...

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Best Medicine

Eat healthy. A bit vague and the definition certainly changes among individuals but we all now we could leave out a bit of the processed, sugary, high fat, fried foods and add in fresh produce. When we go to the doctor, many of us want a quick cure, a prescription, a plan of action and to feel better. Sometimes a doctor may chide you about your weight or cholesterol and perhaps hand you a sheet of suggested diet tips, but somehow, it's not enough.

A coworker of mine is very aware, aware of herbal remedies, natural tips, vitamins and supplements and eats a mostly whole/organic, "good-for-you" diet. She once said, "We really should be putting our money in our mouths. We should all be buying the best food money can buy for ourselves." Why aren't we? Could be a number of factors including cost. The fast food chains were quite aware what they were doing when they created "value menus" or "dollar items." The public started to cry foul and so they added apple slices. In no way should the fast food giant be held accountable for our choices, the observation is simply that if an individual whether of a low economic status, high school or college student with a limited budget or anyone simply short on cash, has the option of a full meal for $5.00 or a small fresh salad which option are they more likely to select and how can their minds be changed?

Yes, we have these options and choices to make every day. And yes, some of our selections are based on how we were raised, what we think tastes good and how we think the food will make us feel. "I need this piece of chocolate right now," or, "I deserve this."

What if when we went to our doctor's office for an annual physical or with a health problem we were truly instructed on significant improvements and modifications in our diet? Would we listen?

A link to last week's New York Times Dining Section article, "To Heal, First Eat,"
http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/11/dining/doctors-learn-to-cook-healthy-crave-able-foods.html?pagewanted=all is suggested reading. How would patients (you and I) feel about a doctor who can put his medicine where our taste buds are by hosting a food preparation/seminar/workshop complete with recipes to take home? A place where the attendees may receive a credit to their health insurance for attending?

We all know, "We are what we eat," but maybe we don't know what a kale chip tastes like or what to do with quinoa and any other number of healthier options now available to the buying public that our parents maybe did not prepare. Who better to help us than the professionals we pay to help us feel better and look out for us to make healthy choices to live a long, healthy, pain free life?

For the third year in a row, my intelligent husband received the results from his annual physical which included another increase in his overall and "bad" cholesterol numbers. Also within the letter was the following advice, "a low fat diet and increased exercise will help bring down cholesterol." Here's what I think he translates that into, "You have to cut down on chocolate chip cookies and french fries and maybe go for a few more walks with your wife." Here's what I see, "Make sure he eats more fruits and vegetables and has a turn on the treadmill." All three versions are fairly vague and could use a bit more backbone, plans must be put in place and monitored. For now, I am making as many healthy swaps in our diet as I can though I know he will never say no to fried foods and yes, I have found his cookie stash.

How do you take your medicine?

Monday, April 16, 2012

Yup, It is What's for Dinner

The day was over 90 degrees in April in New York. I wasn't really bothered during the day at work and tried to ride home with just the windows and sunroof open. I thought about my older son who worked outside all day, every day, in all weather conditions, in a uniform, ugh. The least I could do was drive home for about 45 minutes without air conditioning. Well, I made it about half an hour before giving in.

What do I think about while driving? Today, I thought of nothing but being in the kitchen. I knew I had some more leftover chicken I wanted to dice up for a salad for my lunch tomorrow, mixed with celery (stalk and leaves) and craisins, salt and pepper, a bit of mayo and tucked into a multi-grain wrap. Mmmm.


This morning my older son and I crowded the kitchen as we made our lunches for work. This is not an activity I normally participate in, but I had been wanting a wrap with apricot jam, lettuce and turkey for lunch and I prefer to make it fresh in the morning. My older son was a good sport and quietly moved to a different counter to pack up his Flintstone sized meal including: 2 sandwiches on double protein bread, a banana, an apple, fresh blueberries, a turkey wrap (for morning snack), a half-gallon cooler of water and who knows what else after I walked out. Planning ahead to make my lunch for tomorrow will make things a bit easier I suspect.

Dinner? Well, the grill seemed like a no-brainer in the heat and so a simply seasoned skirt steak, cooked precisely 4 minutes per side to a rare center with medium ends. Broccolini with a splash of olive oil, an onion browned in the black cast iron skillet, Saturday's potato salad (skins on with celery) and the remains of the Tabbouleh with mushrooms, green peppers and onions as well as a fresh tossed salad. Although I drink a lot of water, tonight I decided on the pink sparkling lemonade. It was a very good year.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reinvent Reuse Recycle

Rachel Ray's latest cooking show features cooking 5 meals in one day (Week in a Day link: http://www.cookingchanneltv.com/rachael-rays-week-in-a-day/index.html) to sort of help another wise busy cook plan ahead and sometimes feature an ingredient in more than one dish to economize. I've watched the show and love the concept but prefer to prepare each day's meals on that day. However, on the rare occasion when we have leftovers from a meal, I like knowing in advance what I can turn them into.

For example, for the longest time if I had left over beef it would either be re-purposed into a stroganoff, pepper steak or a stir fry. Sometimes the beef would find it's way into tomato sauce or served with eggs. These were my culinary secret weapons. Now, I may consider using beef in a burrito, taco, shredded slow cooked beef sandwiches or some sort of pie. Just sitting here thinking about precooked beef has forced my culinary muscles to stretch.

The trick about left-overs is to not try to represent them in their original form. Just as we wouldn't simply stuff tissues in a used/empty box, or wrap new paper towels on an old roll, the bits we are left with should instead be redesigned into something entirely different.

This week's New York Times Dining Section also addressed these thoughts. In "Starting from Scraps," by Andrew Scrivani (link http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/11/dining/inventive-cooking-beginning-with-your-leftovers.html?_r=1&ref=dining) readers are prompted to think about ways to reuse bits of various dishes that may not, at first look, seem to go together. Tossing veggies into a quiche or frittata, or a pasta dish seem the easiest - but how often are we putting them to use?

In this house, if a mere spoonful of something remains 3 out of 4 family members will opt to throw it out for fear of it turning into something unrecognizable that will have to eventually be tossed away. I have been teased for my unwillingness to give in to this line of though and reasoning. I would rather at least give the remaining food a chance. Especially during soup season, or for risotto, omelets... the list is fairly endless.

The components of most meals can be broken down and used in a recreated dish. Stop thinking of this food as simply "left-over." Sunday's broken down meatloaf may be the star in Monday night's pasta, maybe as lasagna filling or a simple meat sauce. This is not just about being frugal (although we all know we waste a ridiculous amount of food even with the most care) it is about stretching our willingness to experiment and create in the kitchen.

Last night, we grilled simple thin cutlet chicken breasts. A ton of them. They were served with a tossed salad, a fresh potato salad, corn and tabbouleh with mushrooms, peppers and onions. So, tonight we have about 1/4 ton remaining and while it would be easy enough to simply reserve the same menu as last night, maybe instead they will be served as sandwiches, shredded into fajitas, be coated in melted cheese, chopped into salad, or tossed with fresh crispy veggies and land on a bed or brown rice.

Thanksgiving turkey is jokingly re purposed into every available form from Friday to Sunday. In this house, the family favorite is to simply dump leftover sides including stuffing, veggies, gravy and the turkey into a stew topped with dumplings (or sinkers) made of Bisquik. They look forward to this more than the original meal.

So, tonight when clearing away the dishes from an incredible Sunday meal, don't be so quick to throw just a few scraps into the garbage, the dog's dish or the compost pile. With a little thought and creative thinking, you may just discover your new favorite meal and when all else fails - stir fry is a pretty good answer.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Comfort - A Hug in a Dish

We talk about favorite foods, meals and comfort food. What food is like a hug to you? Does it change, evolve or has it stayed the same since childhood? Earliest food memories for me involve typically child friendly meals like burgers with fries or pizza, but one memory tucked so far back I count it in with earliest life experiences and one of the few I have with my paternal grandmother it has become more than sentimental.




I was well under five years old and I know this to be true because she died before I was six. I was sitting at the foot of the eat-in-kitchen table as she scraped the remains of a beef stew from a pot to a bowl. "Ew," I said with a wrinkled up nose.


"Ew? No, it's not. It's beef stew and it's very good."



To cover up, I lied. "I wasn't talking about the stew," and I grabbed a crayon and continued to color in the coloring book at hand. Honestly, the stew gave my childish palette the creeps but I knew enough that I didn't want to have any type of conflict with my grandmother. I knew I loved her. This was the woman who fussed and made sure I had hair ribbons to match my dresses. This was the woman who let me play dress up and touch her wigs. I even remember her telling my grandfather, Popper, to ride on the swing set with me - and he did.


Beef stew. I remember a thick brown gravy, potatoes and a variety of vegetables. I also know my mother made a version that I also avoided based on appearance. Kids can be fussy, but we are also firm. When forced, I would eat the meat and sometimes the potatoes, but never the vegetables and I never had enthusiasm for the dish.


Until Julia Child. Until the Julie and Julia movie. Until Boeuf Bourguignon (Please read with her accent and voice - it makes a vast difference.)








While this link belongs to Oprah, it is Julia's recipe... http://www.oprah.com/food/Boeuf-Bourguignon


My own beef stew ensued. Technique. Browning meat. Using a cast iron dutch oven and learning to let the dish slow cook for hours. Steps to a process rather than throwing everything in and looking forward to the peeling, chopping, simmering. The smells. Onions, mushrooms and carrots - no green vegetables. A splash (or 2) of red wine. Separate fluffy, clouds of mashed potatoes on the side to sop up the gravy goodness. Herbs and a bay leaf. A wooden spoon.










I served the dish to family and friends at my mother-in-laws surprise 80th birthday party and while some of the younger generation shied away form the unusual appearance and misunderstanding of the dishes name, the over 40 crowd and my immediate family knew from experience it is a soft and tender beef treat. I have also prepared this meal for holidays from Christmas to Easter with modifications that may include beef short ribs or the most tender of sirloin tips. Nothing in the world of beef can compare to the gentle falling apart of the meat when pierced with the tip of a fork.




Maybe this is exactly what my grandmother's stew tasted like - I am sorry to admit I will never know. But, when I make mine, I do think of her and my mother and Julia Child and wonder if some day my family will look back on the meal and think of a hug in a dish.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

After the Main

A lovely dinner for 2. Well, in all honesty we did some custom quesadillas in the black cast iron skillet. Me, tomato and mozzarella of course with a sprinkle of oregano. For him, sliced left over ham with cheese and tomato. The lovely part was mainly the two of us sharing stories of our day, no rush, no editing.




Although I was perfectly full, something, some other degree of the taste buds started screaming, "Sweets! Must have sweets!" To quiet my inner beast I said out loud, "I am going to have some strawberries, would you like some?"


My husband declined but I rinsed and sliced up 3 large, lush, juicy, sweet, perfectly ripe red berries and ate them on a plate with a fork. Very dignified.



"I can't believe how full I am," I proclaimed and went to the computer.



Moments later, the inner voice cried out, "NO, CHOCOLATE!"


Oh my. I thought I could head off the beast within by having the healthy sweet snack right away. It seemed to only worsen the condition. The left-over Easter candy did not help by answering, "Smaller than snack size, just bite size pieces, just one can't hurt."


Really? Who can have just one? Well, one of each...







What's one to do?

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Kitchen Gadgets + Simple Things




I absolutely HAD TO have the Cuisinart food processor. HAD TO. Like a child jumping up and down, practically shrieking, "I want one of THOSE!" Once received it sat on the kitchen counter for almost a year, unused, and I was terrified.





Afraid I would have to face the recipes I put aside with excuses, "I don't have time to do that," or "I don't have a food processor, so..." Afraid I might make something awful. Afraid I might cut myself cleaning it (ok, that was a small and lame factor, but it crossed my mind nonetheless).





Finally, I decided to make potato pancakes and put the potatoes through with an onion. How hard could it be? It took two of us to snap all of the pieces properly in place and set the wheels in motion, but once started, I wanted to simply put vegetables through the chute and see what else would happen. The pancakes were a long forgotten memory when I decided to try again.





"Not sure what to make for the night before Easter dinner. I am making a chicken and salad," said my sister.





"I can make a side if you want," I volunteered with no plan what-so-ever.





I scrolled through Food Network ideas, flipped through my latest Rachel Ray magazine with a cover featuring fall vegetables, then back to the computer. Zucchini Fritters. Hmmmmm. I can use the food processor!




3 zucchini

1/2 onion

sprinkle of flour

salt

pepper

mix to combine

drop generous wooden spoonfuls of mixture into hot oil

in a cast iron pan and watch the magic happen!




I could have easily doubled the recipe to make enough for the crowd, but alas, I had only those 3 zucchini. What to do? Take out another fancy gadget I had to have...



Used only for "special" occasions for cutting vegetables on a crudite platter or for making cucumbers look extra fancy on toasted baguette with horseradish mayo and roast beef (another fabulous recipe for parties from a girlfriend) - but I am off track. What says spring more than fancy cut and raw carrots? Seems unusual, however, I know as a child I strongly preferred raw veggies and hoped the next generation agreed.



The next most spring-like vegetable I could think of was of course, asparagus. Simply seasoned with salt, pepper, a touch of olive oil then roasted. Yum!



We feasted on Easter Eve, a family gathered and happy, what better way to feel Fed Well?