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Thursday, November 27, 2008

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am up already (was up at 445am) because I couldn't sleep. I decided to get up and work out to burn off some of my energy, so I feel good. Won't feel so guilty eating dinner I guess!

Then the kids and I are headed off shortly to cheer on Rob, and our friends Mike and Liz in the Turkey Day 5K. Then it's home for brunch (Storebought Quiche - I only have so much time!, salad, fruit and bagels, and it sounds like Liz is making Mimosas). Then I'll start the serious cooking.

Right now I've got to get the turkey in the brine (it needs to be in there 6-8 hours). Then I'll probably dice the potatoes. When we get back from the 5K and have eaten brunch, I'll get the Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes done and in the crockpot, I'll get the turkey in the oven by 2, and then work on the stuffing and Mushroom Strudel. Liz is making Shallot and Toasted Hazelnut Green Beans, and Maple Glazed Carrots (curtesy of Williams-Sonoma recipes). We pick up Jessy and John from the airport shuttle drop off at 4pm, and then we'll aim to eat dinner at 5:30pm.

I've got appetizers too! At about 3 I figure I'll set them out. I have smoked salmon spread and crackers, olives, and Italian Cashews. We have Syrah and Riesling for the wines.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I wish you a day filled with those you love, and a healthy, hearty meal. Let's take time today to thank God for all the things he has provided for us, and to pray for those who have less than we do today. There are so many people, here and especially in India today who are grieving instead of celebrating, and I am praying that God will wrap His arms around them, and that above all else they will know His love.

God's blessings on you today and always.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Getting ready for the big day













Today Rob has off work, and the boys have off of school, and we're going to be getting ready mostly for tomorrow. I am still helping with the Food Outreach that I help with on Wednesdays this AM, and I have a haircut this afternoon. We're also going to go to the Thanksgiving service at church tonight.

Today I'm getting groceries and picking up the Turkey. I'm going to dice potatoes for the mashed potatoes, make the pumpkin and pecan pies, make the filling for the strudel, and make the bread mixture, and the sausage mixture for the stuffing. Or I should say, I'm going to try! I figure whatever I get done will be helpful tomorrow. Tomorrow our friends and Rob are going to run the Turkey Day 5K, and then come home for brunch and to help with food. Rob and the kiddos will go pick up our other friends that are flying here in the afternoon.

On Friday the guys are going to go out mountain biking or something in the morning, and then come home between 2-3pm and let all the ladies get out. I was thinking of taking them to Boulder (never been) and then to the Indulge Wine Bar here in Highlands Ranch at night.

Saturday we are taking all our guests (and the kiddos of course!) to Breckenridge as they have never been there before. Then we have babysitting at night and we're going to go up to Denver for dinner.

I am so thankful for good friends, a healthy beautiful family, and this beautiful state that we live in. Happy Thanksgiving! and may you find many things to be thankful for in your life as well.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Cranberry Chutney


Today began the process of getting that Thanksgiving meal onto the table Thursday night.
There wasn't too much I can do today. Not only because I am babysitting two other kiddos in addition to my own, but just because that's about all I can do. Today I made the Double Cranberry Chutney from the recent Vegetarian Times magazine. I've never been a Cranberry Sauce fan, but I've never had it made from scratch either, so I thought I'd give it a try. It certainly smelled wonderful, and looks good too. I'm even contemplating leftover Cranberry Chutney over Ice Cream already......

Also the other thing I am doing today is making my grocery list for tomorrow. I wasn't able to get groceries today or yesterday as I've been babysitting, but that's okay. I can't pick up my turkey until tomorrow anyway. I ordered my turkey from The Vitamin Cottage. It's a Free Range Organic Turkey making it's way here from CA. Not frozen, so it should be yummy!
(Also of note: Vitamin Cottage now also has Healthy Eating on a Budget - Family of 4 under $20 for healthy meals)

pictures to come! We got a new camera! I just need to have Rob show me how to upload the pics.

Double Cranberry Chutney
Vegetarian Times November/December 2008
Serves 16
Vegan

"The simple flavors of this sauce will satisfy the traditionalists at the table, while the chunky, chewy consistency will win over any foodies in the group"

My notes: This was easy to make with my new handheld juicer from Pampered Chef. It was however way more expensive to make for the little bit of chutney that came out of it. It says it serves 16, which maybe because you just use a little, but I maybe have 2 1/2 cups of chutney, and it cost $18 in ingredients. I wasn't budgeting out that much for chutney let me say! I think it's because I had to buy a whole bottle of Port ($5.99 for the cheapest) and it called for 4 cups of cranberries, and those Ocean Spray bags have about 3 1/2 cups, so I had to buy two). It better be as good as it looks! I used organic oranges, lemons, and sugar.

2 Tbs. fresh orange juice
1 Tbs. fresh lemon juice
1 tsp. cornstarch
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
4 cups fresh or frozen cranberries ( 2 - 12 oz packages)
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup ruby port
1/2 cup dried cranberries
3 Tbs finely diced crystallized ginger
2 Tbs. grated orange zest
1 Tbs. grated lemon zest
1/8 tsp. ground cloves

1. Whisk together orange juice, lemon juice, cornstarch and mustard in a small bowl. Set aside.

2. Combine cranberries, sugar, port, dried cranberries, ginger, orange zest, lemon zest, cloves and a pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve sugar.

3. Stir cornstarch mixture into saucepan. Reduce heat to meduim-low, and simmer 10 to 15 minutes, or until sauce is thick and berries have burst. Cool, and serve chilled or at room temperature.

Note: This recipe can be done a few days ahead; the extra chilling time with help the flavors marry.

Per 1/4 cup serving:
90 calories
0 g protein
0 g fat
23 g carbs
0 mg chol
11 mg soduim
2 g fiber
19 g sugars
Just a look at my fride at this point. Can you spy how many DRINKS we have in here. Seriously I am a heavy drinker. :) Almond Milk, Cow's Milk, Synergy Kombucha Tea, Mike's Hard Lemonade, Iced Tea, a leftover bottle of wine, and Port for the Cranberry Sauce. And you know I start the day with either a smoothie, or Green Lemonade. It just made me chuckle. :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Thanksgiving


We are so blessed to have good friends coming to stay with us for Thanksgiving this year. Two couples from CA are coming, and I am about to burst I am so excited to see them! I have been busy planning food for while they are here, and I think I have a menu finalized for the big day.

We don't usually eat much meat and dairy, but hey, it's Thanksgiving! We're going all out :)

Honey and Rosemary Brined Turkey with Herb Riesling Gravy
(click on the link below the picture that says "play now" to see the video. I'm all about the video. I don't think I've made a turkey before on my own. The video makes it seem do-able!)

For the vegetarian main dish:
Mushroom, Cheese and Vegetable Strudel
It's from my Vegetarian Times mag, but they don't have the recipe on their website. HOWEVER, I found this awesome blog post where someone has the recipe, and step by step pictures on how to make it
http://www.tofuandcupcakes.com/?p=239
Also, this has less than 300 calories per serving!

Artichoke, Sausage, and Parmesan Cheese Stuffing
A recipe from my beloved Epicurious.com. :) (read the reviews for extra tips) I might break the recipe in half, and use imitation italian sausage in half of it to keep it vegetarian.

Let me know if anyone wants any of these recipes.....
My Mom's Garlic Parmesan Mashed Potatoes

Double Cranberry Chutney
(from the newest issue of Vegetarian Times)

Pecan Pie with Whole Wheat Pastry Crust
Pumpkin Pie with Whole Wheat Pastry Crust
I'm going to TRY, if I have time, to make some homemade Vanilla Ice Cream in
my ice cream maker.

I was going to make a healthy Green Bean side dish, but it got vetoed in favor of that
Green Bean Casserole that everyone has had at least once in their life. Rob's plan is to ask our friend Mike (who is famous for making it) to make it while they are here, and he wants to record a video of Mike calling to ask his mom for the recipe. It's a guy thing. ;)

I'm also going to do something fresh and crisp to go along with all of this, like a salad, or some nice crisp Asparagus.


You'll notice that I went for a really traditional menu this year! I think as my kids get's older, I am starting to appreciate tradition more. And all of these things are things we love, and really we look forward to that pie each year, and those mashed potatoes, and we are sad when they are not there. So it's once a year, but if will build fond memories, and make my kid's want to come home for Thanksgiving when they get older, then hey - who am I to argue with tradition? :)

Plus I get to use our Christmas party to do all the interesting appetizers etc that I want to do this season. So now on to plan the menu for that.....yum!! Bring on the holidays!!

Culinary School visit

I've had a busy week! Isaac has had a bad cough that he can't seem to shake. Analise woke up with a mild one this AM. I've had to pray for extra patience with two cranky sick kiddos. I'm also sooo ready to get out of the house. I was really sad to miss my beloved MOPS group this morning.

I did however still get to go observe the Culinary School of the Rockies Chef Track class on Tuesday night! (Thank you hubby) Wow, that was an adventure! It was fun, interesting, busy, intense, and eye-opening. I really felt like I was in a Chef's kitchen for the night. There were two Chef's teaching the class, and I didn't count, but I think about 16 students. The class is 15 weeks long and meets Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesdays from 5-10pm (really more like 11pm). There was maybe 45-60 minutes of teaching in the classroom and in the kitchen. Then they are broken up into two teams, given the menu for the night and a time to have it done by. It felt a little bit like Iron Chef America (is that the right show? I saw it in on a hotel TV once....two teams competing to get a menu done at a certain time) At first it was awkward because I wanted to ask questions, or ask them about the process, but everyone was racing and juggling so many things, I also didn't want to get in their way. Eventually people starting to grab me to help with things, and I had a blast. I was able to talk with people about why they chose the class, and what they hoped to do with their knowledge when they get out. I opened about 10 West Coast Oysters (I think my hand still hurts:) chopped, peeled, helped with presentation. Then about 10pm we sat down and ate!

I had NO idea Lobster bisque was so labor intensive. My guess is you'd want about 5 hours to do this right. We had about 3 1/2. Neither teams bisque was perfect, but nobody was complaining much when we ate it either :). Here is the menu for the evening.....

Menu
Lobster Bisque
Pan Seared Striped Bass with Lemon Beurre Blanc
Sauteed Spinich
Rice Pilaf
Chocolate Mousse
Poach and pears and make Pate Sucree for next nights class
Baguette
Make Fish Stock for next nights class
I am so glad I went. I think it's hard on paper to really know what something is going to be like. I think if I did decide to enroll in the Chef Track program I would go into it with my eyes open, knowing what to both expect within the class, and how tired I would be outside of the class, and how that will affect me as a mom. It did make me realize that though I am passionate about food in general, I'm not just only passionate about getting a meal on the table. I am very interested in where the food came from, how it was grown, and how healthy it is for the people I am serving it to. That makes me think it's worth me at least checking out the Colorado Farm to Table school next Fall when it starts up again, to see if that might be a better fit. When I start thinking about Farm to Table stuff, I get crazy passionate about the food, the farmers, and people I am serving it to. So maybe my heart lies there....we shall see. :)

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Spaghetti Squash...and a busy week ahead


I still haven't replaced my camera :(. We've been taking our time since it has been a few years, so hopefully I'll be able to post more original pictures soon. This week Rob has a busy week at work, I get to go to the Culinary School of the Rockies one night for the class I mentioned earlier, and we have company flying in this weekend. Two couples that are dear friends from CA are coming for Thanksgiving week, and I can hardly wait! I have my table piled with Vegetarian Times, and Bon Appetit magazines, and recipes boomarked on Epicurious and Whole Foods websites, and I'm having fun narrowing down meals and menus for the coming weeks.

This week will be a lot of quick dinners because I'll be gone one night, and I'm not sure how many nights Rob has to work late, but I do have a Spaghetti Squash I need to use this week. Though I usually go for something maybe considered more interesting, my favorite recipe for Spaghetti Squash is actually out of Betty Crocker's New Cookbook. It yummy in the way that a good spaghetti and marinara is comforting and filling. I just think it's wonderful. Kid approved also. I'd like to try to make it sometime with fresh herbs.
Spaghetti Squash with Tomatoes

from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook
picture from http://superspark.wordpress.com/


PREP: 15 minutes
BAKE: 1 hour
COOK: 10 minutes
Makes 6 servings, about 2/3 cup each


"Spaghetti squash can be served in the spaghetti shell. If you cut it crosswise, you'll get the longest squash strandsm but cutting the squash lengthwise is the easiest way to serve from the shell. The choice is yours."


1 spaghetti squash (about 1 1/2 pounds)
1 medium onion, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 small green pepper, chopped (about 1/2 cup)
1 large clove garlic, finely chopped
2 tablespoons olive oil
4 medium tomatoes, chopped (about 4 cups)
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
1/4 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon fennel seed
1/8 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons margarine or butter
1/4 cup Parmesan cheese

1. Prepare and cook squash. (Cut lengthwise and remove seeds and fibers. Place squash in a 13x9x9 2 pan cut sides down in 1/4 inch water, making sure to check that water doesn't evaporate while cooking. Bake 400 degrees for 30-40 minutes.)

2. Cook onion, green pepper and garlic in oil in 3 quart saucepan over medium heat about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion is tender. Stir in tomatoes, salt, oregano, basil, fennel and pepper. Simmer uncovered, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes.

3. Remove squash strands with two forks; toss with butter and cheese. Spoon tomato mixture over squash.


1 serving:
145 calories
10 g fat
2 mg cholesterol
290 mg sodium
15 g carbohydrate
3 g protein

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa


The whole reason I came across the previous post's recipe is that I was digging out this oldie but a goodie. When looking for some comforting (it's getting COLD out!) and quick weeknight recipes I thought of this awesome Vegetarian (and so easily made Vegan) chili recipe. It's hearty and flavourful, the kids love it, and it's quick. What more can a gal ask for? Oh, and it's lite! Bring on the chili.....

(credit to CookingLight.com for the recipe and picture.)

Quick Vegetarian Chili with Avocado Salsa

My notes: To make this vegan, simply leave out the sour cream. It's still delicious without.
The jalapeno in the salsa is the only thing you need to leave out if cooking for toddlers. I recommend making two batches, one with the jalapeno and one without.
I also added a little more veggie broth as it was cooking, as it seemed to get too thick to me.


Yield
6 servings (serving size: 1 cup chili, 1 tablespoon sour cream, 1 lime wedge, 3 chips, and and about 2 1/2 tablespoons avocado salsa)

Ingredients
2 teaspoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
1 cup chopped red bell pepper
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon dried oregano
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
2/3 cup uncooked quick-cooking barley
1/4 cup water
1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can vegetable broth
3 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro
6 tablespoons reduced-fat sour cream
6 lime wedges
18 baked tortilla chips
Avocado Salsa (see below)

Preparation
Heat the oil in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion and bell pepper; sauté 3 minutes. Add chili powder and next 4 ingredients (chili powder through green chiles); cook 1 minute. Stir in barley and next 4 ingredients (barley through broth); bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 20 minutes or until barley is tender. Stir in cilantro. Serve with sour cream, lime wedges, chips, and Avocado Salsa.

Note: Store chili in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

(Totals include Avocado Salsa)
Nutritional Information
Calories: 313 (29% from fat)
Fat: 10.1g (sat 2.2g,mono 4.8g,poly 1.6g)
Protein: 9.6g
Carbohydrate: 50.4g
Fiber: 9.5g
Cholesterol: 6mg
Iron: 3.4mg
Sodium: 814mg
Calcium: 100mg
Patsy Jamieson, Cooking Light, MARCH 2002

Avocado Salsa
Yield
1 cup (serving size: about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

Ingredients
1/2 cup finely chopped peeled avocado
1/3 cup chopped seeded tomato
2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
1 tablespoon finely chopped seeded jalapeño pepper
1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt

Preparation
Combine all ingredients; toss mixture gently. Serve salsa immediately.

Nutritional Information
Calories: 59 (79% from fat)
Fat: 5.2g (sat 0.8g,mono 3.2g,poly 0.7g)
Protein: 0.8g
Carbohydrate: 3.7g
Fiber: 1.9g
Cholesterol: 0.0mg
Iron: 0.5mg
Sodium: 54mg
Calcium: 6mg
Patsy Jamieson, Cooking Light, MARCH 2002

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Asparagus Melt with Pesto Spread


I am definitely on an Asparagus kick this Fall. I just can't get enough of it! I had this recipe tucked away for about...um....7 years now! Yes, I can admit that to you. I remember tearing out of the magazine and thinking it looked good, and every once in awhile it resurfaced in my cookbook cupboard. It has been moved to new living quarters with me no less than 6 times, and still it remained. I knew it would headline at our dinner table someday.
Tonight was the night. I have been craving something gooey and warm and satifying like all the paninis I see advertised at sandwhich shops. However, I know they are high in fat and had been thinking about making a healthy version of a melt at home, when I came across this again.
This recipe is from the May 2001 issue of cooking light. I think it's going to get into the Fall rotation of recipes at the Colwill house. It's melty, and satifying, but doesn't leave you with that gut bomb feeling, because it's light and healthy somehow at the same time. This is definitely more dairy than I usually serve at a meal, but for a treat it was good.
You could easily make this on a busy weeknight folks. It was just a quick 2 minute steam of the asparagus, some slicing, and three minutes under the broiler. viola! dinner is served. And if you or someone in your house didn't like asparagus before, trust me, they will now!
The recipe and picture are from cookinglight.com.
My notes: I doubled this recipe for my family of 5, (and served it with a couscous salad on the side) except for the asparagus, I didn't double that. I put about 5 stalks on each sandwich, and used really big oversized oval slices of a whole wheat bread I got at Panera Bread. It seemed like the right amount of asparagus. I think that 8 pieces of asparagus on each sandwich would have been a bit much, unless you are able to get really slender stalks, which I wasn't able to find.

Yield
2 servings (serving size: 1 sandwich)
Ingredients
16 asparagus spears
3 tablespoons fat-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon commercial pesto
2 (2-ounce) slices sourdough bread, toasted
2 (1-ounce) thin slices ham
4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices tomato
2 (1-ounce) slices part-skim mozzarella cheese
Freshly ground black pepper
preparation
Snap off tough ends of asparagus. Steam, covered, 2 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Preheat broiler.

Combine mayonnaise and pesto in a bowl, and stir with a whisk. Spread 2 tablespoons pesto mixture onto 1 side of each bread slice. Layer each slice with 8 asparagus spears, 1 ham slice, 2 tomato slices, and 1 cheese slice. Place on a baking sheet; broil 3 minutes or until cheese melts. Sprinkle with pepper.
Nutritional Information
Calories:
343 (30% from fat)
Fat:
11.5g (sat 4.3g,mono 4.7g,poly 1.1g)
Protein:
21.7g
Carbohydrate:
40.7g
Fiber:
2.8g
Cholesterol:
31mg
Iron:
3.6mg
Sodium:
1041mg
Calcium:
324mg
Cooking Light, MAY 2001

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Crunchy Pear and Celery Salad


I've still been keeping an eye out for yummy, healthy looking salads thats main ingredient isn't lettuce....just to change things up because I get sick of munching on lettuce every day at lunchtime.
I came across these recipes on the Kashi website where they had this tool called The Naturalizer. You could pick a favorite recipe and they would give you a healthy alternative. I tried to look it up again to leave a link, but it looks like they took the tool off their website. They give credit, however, to eatingwell.com for the recipe.
This recipe was really yummy, and easy. Some recipes that have you make your own dressing, the dressing has as many ingredients as they salad does, and it time consuming. I didn't mind that so much before the days of kiddos, but when I'm making a salad these days, there is usually something else to go with it, and I can't spend another 15 minutes on the salad dressing. So this dressing has three ingredients, and is a snap, but tastes amazing. Two thumbs up from all 5 of us. :)
(I used Braggs Apple Cider Vinegar, and Colorado Ambrosia Honey Co. raw and unfiltered honey, and sea salt in the dressing. ) I recommend using Butter lettuce if you can, it went really well with this.
Bartlett or Anjou pears are used in this salad for their crisp texture. The nut and cheese combination sets the tone of the dish—white Cheddar and pecans is decidedly American. For an Italian twist, try a good Parmesan with some toasted walnuts.

Makes 6 servings, 1 cup each
ACTIVE TIME: 25 minutes
TOTAL TIME: 25 minutes
EASE OF PREPARATION: Easy
4 stalks celery, trimmed and cut in half crosswise
2 tablespoons cider, pear, raspberry or other fruit vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 ripe pears, preferably red Bartlett or Anjou, diced
1 cup finely diced white Cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted (see Tip)
Freshly ground pepper to taste
6 large leaves butterhead or other lettuce
1. Soak celery in a bowl of ice water for 15 minutes. Drain and pat dry. Cut into 1/2-inch pieces.
2. Whisk vinegar, honey and salt in a large bowl until blended. Add pears; gently stir to coat. Add the celery, cheese and pecans; stir to combine. Season with pepper. Divide the lettuce leaves among 6 plates and top with a portion of salad. Serve at room temperature or chilled.
NUTRITION INFORMATION: Per serving: 221 calories; 14 g fat (5 g sat, 4 g mono); 20 mg cholesterol; 20 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein; 4 g fiber; 244 mg sodium; 234 mg potassium. Nutrition bonus: Calcium (15% daily value). 1 Carbohydrate Serving Exchanges: 1 fruit, 1 high-fat meat, 1 fat
TIP: Tips: To toast chopped nuts & seeds: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly, until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
MAKE AHEAD TIP: Prepare salad without pecans up to 2 hours ahead. Stir in pecans just before serving.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Dinner in/Field Trip for Mommy

I realize I almost always post about the more interesting dinners we have here in the Colwill house. But what about a typical weeknight? I don't write about them often, but I thought I might tonight. We all have our list I'm sure of quick meals for the busy weeknights. My kids favorite is Whole Wheat Spaghetti with vegan Savory Mushroom meatballs (freezer section of Whole Foods) and my quick marinara sauce (saute some onions, mushrooms, peppers, add a jar of sauce and then sometimes add black olives, or stir in some fresh spinich) with some freshly grated parmesan - yum!

Last night we tried these Sprouted Corn tortillas (wheat free) and they were yummy. I used a veggie crumble (think garden burgers, but in a ground beef form) that was already seasoned with taco seasonings. I then shredded lettuce, grated some raw cheddar cheese, halved some cherry tomatoes for the kiddos, and got out some spicy peach salsa for mom and dad. It was yummy - but definitely for us the salsa made it. Otherwise it would have been bland.

Tonight I have leftover veggie crumbles so I'm making taco salad: romaine lettuce, corn, black olives, raw cheddar cheese, veggie crumbles, and whatever else I throw on there at the last minute. I'm serving it with Guiltless Gourmet baked Chili Lime chips, Evan's fresh raw salsa, and some guacamole. I can't wait until Rob gets here! :)

While we were in the midwest the Culinary School of the Rockies called twice, and offered for me to come in and observe a class. I called them back and I'm going in on the 18th to one of their classes that is apart of the Chef Track. It's focus will be on Fish and Seafood, and then finish the night off with a multi-course dinner and wine pairing (every night they do! can you imagine!!).
I get to listen to the lecture and participate as much as I want making the meal. I hope to get my hands in there as much as possible. I hope it's everything I hope it will be, and maybe I'll get to be a student there when little Analise makes her way to Kidnergarden!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Get Up and Go!

Just a friendly reminder to get out and vote today! It's a privledge to be able to vote, and also your responsibility if you feel strongly about any of the issues. This race is so close, that definitely YOUR vote counts. There are also so many other things on the ballot this year that will affect your local community, and will effect you directly, whether through your taxes or how your community is run. Don't be afraid to have an opinion, it doesn't mean to have to stand on the corner with a sign, or talk about it to everyone you know. Just HAVE an opinion. There are still people in the world who don't have such a privledge as this, don't waste it! Get up and go!!!

Monday, November 3, 2008

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Crostata

Last night we had the Crostata I mentioned in yesterdays post.....it was SO good!!! I got the recipe from a Midwest Home magazine that my mom sent home with me. The recipe was submitted by Bret Bannon of Bret's Table. He is a chef in Minnesota that has culinary classes and also leads culinary tours to regions of France if I understand correctly.

I was really happy with this recipe, and so was my husband and three kids. I think it combined the satisfying feeling of having eaten some midwestern comfort food, with the feeling of eating something new and adventurous at the same time. You could serve this as a vegetarian main dish, or my husband said he would also enjoy it over the holidays in lieu of mashed potatoes. All I know is I want to eat it again really soon! :)

I only wish I had my camera so I could have taken a picture of it!! We've got to get a new one soon. so sad. It was beautiful and rustic and I wish I could have shared it with you.
Here is a pic from someone else's blog, which I came across when I was searching for images to share. It's a before picture....you would then wrap the sides up.
http://www.fergusfallsjournal.com/weblogs/allis-food-finds/2008/mar/22/asparagus-and-goat-cheese-crostata/
When the sides are wrapped around it, it will look more like this:
http://www.wordgirl.com/crostatacroppedsmall.jpg
and now that I saw that fruit one, I'm going to need to make one of those too!! :)

Asparagus and Goat Cheese Crostata
NOTE: This recipe forgets to tell you what to do with those chives they mention. I would assume to add them in with the potatoes.

ingredients:

For crostata:
2 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. kosher salt
8 oz. unsalted butter, cold, cut into ½-inch cubes
1 large egg, lightly beaten
4–5 Tbsp. ice water

For egg wash:
1 large egg
1 Tbsp. water

For filling:
6 small new potatoes (about 8 oz.), washed and thinly sliced
¾ c. heavy cream
zest of 1 lemon
1 Tbsp. fresh chives, chopped
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb. tender spring asparagus
2–3 oz. goat cheese

Preparation:
Crostata:
Put flour and salt in food processor and pulse to combine. Add butter; pulse until butter is the size of peas. Add egg and pulse to combine. Add 4 Tbsp. of water and run machine until dough comes together in moist clumps. Add another Tbsp. of water and pulse again if too dry. Dump onto plastic wrap, shape into a disk, wrap, and refrigerate at least 2 hours. (Can be kept in the refrigerator overnight.)

Egg wash: Whisk together egg and water. Set aside.

Preparation: Slice potatoes less than 1⁄8 of an inch. In saucepan, add potatoes, cream, lemon zest, and salt and pepper, to taste. Bring to a boil. Turn heat down and simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 20 minutes, or until potatoes are tender and cream has reduced to almost a glaze. Set aside to cool.

Blanch asparagus for about 1–2 minutes. Remove from skillet and immediately plunge into an ice bath to stop the cooking. Remove asparagus and dry on a clean towel. Cut into 2-inch pieces and set aside.

Roll out dough, ¼-inch-thick by at least 12 inches in diameter. Layer the potato mixture in center of crostata, place asparagus on top, and finish with crumbled goat cheese. Fold dough border over filling, letting it drape gently over potato mixture.

The crostata will have a rustic, freeform appearance. Brush egg wash over folded dough. Bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and let sit for at least 10 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Persimmons, and Pomegranites, Oh My!

We had a WONDERFUL trip back to Minnesota and South Dakota the end of October. We enjoyed lots of laughs, and fun fall activities with both sides of our families. From the Pumpkin Patch with the Traxlers to the Go Cart with my Mom and Stepdad, from a jump in the leaves at the Kettners to a big ol' fun potluck with my Dad's side of the family, we just felt like we smiled ear to ear the whole trip. God is so good, and has blessed us with so many friends and family that we look forward to seeing when we get back there. We got to spend 2 days catching up with our dear friends the Bennetts and the Grays also, and it was so much fun to see how everyone's kids have grown, and how we are all changing and growing ourselves as adults.

(The only bummer is that I am pretty sure we lost our camera on the trip!!!! I am still hoping that it will turn up somewhere, at one of the last places we stayed, or in one of the dark scary corners of the van, so we'll see. I HOPE to have pictures soon to share. )

I am finally feeling a bit more back in the swing of things, after a whole week of trying to catch up. I still have a few phone calls to catch up on, and letters and packages to get in the mail, but overall I can tell I'm starting to get back into our life here. First of all, I actually feel like going to the gym tomorrow. :)

Also, another way I can tell, is that I have made my way back into the kitchen. After the typical couple of scattered unorganized trips to the grocery store the first week we were home, I finaly went this AM with an actual list, and we finally had a put together lunch and dinner. Speaking of...I've got to run and finish dinner (Asparagus and Goat Cheese Costata) and then I'll post recipes later. Enjoy the last few hours of the weekend!!!
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Side note: I just realized I posted this yesterday and then never even wrote about the title!! hehe! The reason for the title was that when I got home from being out of town, it was so much fun to see how the in season produce had changed while we were gone. They had persimmons (eat them hard like an apple, and my favorite way is chopped up on a lettuce salad with maybe walnuts and goat cheese - yum!). They also had Pomegranites, which are SO yummy. The first time I opened one a couple of years ago I was shocked by what they looked like on the inside. Now pomegranites are more popular and so maybe you have opened one yourself. The kids think it's so funny to have a fruit where you ONLY eat the seeds, and I have to agree. But oh, those seeds are so yummy! They are also great sprinkled over salad. Or you can throw some in a Martini for some extra flair. An easy trick to help the mundane process along of getting the seeds out is to submerge the piece you are working on in a bowl of water. And thank you to my mom for showing me that you can also freeze them! So if you don't want to open more then one a season (and it makes a lot of seeds, about 1 1/2 cups) just freeze a bag, and take a few out every once in awhile when you are getting bored with salads. yumm!