Sunday, March 20, 2011

Learning Tower

This is an item I have thought would be so helpful for little ones in the kitchen! You know how my little one is always "helping" me bake and do the dishes. At least I would feel safer about her helping and not falling off a chair.
The learning tower


photo credit from Learning Tower

You can win one right now over at Our Ordinary Life.





Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pancakes or Crepes?


My husband calls today Shrove Tuesday. I don't really know what that means, but he is English and that is what they call it. I call it FAT Tuesday and it is a grand excuse (do I need an excuse) to eat decadent foods. The theory is that you are then supposed to give up such decadent foods until Easter. (I don't participate in that portion of the tradition.) Every shrove Tuesday my husband goes on and on about having pancakes. He means crepes really. I guess that is the tradition in the UK, you eat pancakes on shrove Tuesday. Today I decided to surprise him with savory crepes for dinner and sweet ones for dessert.


I used this recipe from Tasty Kitchen for the savory crepes.


 I deviated from the recipe a bit. I used mushrooms and spinach for the veggies and then served broccoli on the side. I also added some herbes de provence to the mix. These are french crepes after all so they needed some frenchy seasonings.

On to the best part...dessert! I filled mine with nutella and strawberries. My favorite treat from the crepe vendors in Paris. Alex chose his family traditional favorite of fresh squeezed lemon juice and sugar. Not half bad either. I had to try one for quality control purposes of course.

So there you have it. I have decided not to give up anything for lent this year. I can't seem to get motivated. I need to start something (like a strict gym routine) rather than give something up!

What was the husbands verdict you ask? He was very pleased I went to all the trouble (they weren't very difficult, just when you have two kiddies at your heels). Let's just hope he is impressed and thankful enough to get me this for our Anniversary later this month.

The Clover bag by Epiphanie








Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Slow Cooker Chicken Cacciatore

Do you use a crock pot? I use mine all the time. Nothing better than throwing some ingredients together in the morning and having a warm meal for dinner. Usually with very little clean up too! I am always on the search for a new recipe since it seems like I have a pretty limited repertoire of recipes. Past the old pot roast and pulled pork I am usually at a loss. I also find many crock pot recipes include lots of cnned goods. Canned veggies, canned condensed soups etc.
I recently got a new crock pot cook book called Art of the Slow Cooker:80 new recipes. It was on my amazon wishlist and my Mommy surprised me by sending it to me! Yippeee! I love cook books. Today I busted it out and made a new recipe from the book, Chicken Cacciatore.

I have to admit, this cook book is not your usual "throw ten ingredients in the pot" and call it dinner sort. It definitely requires some prep, fresh ingredients, and dirtying dishes. The nice thing about it for me though is I can do all of this during nap time, or quiet time in the afternoon or late morning. I then wash all the dishes as well. This way we have a fresh, yummy tasting hot supper without all the last minute rushing and dirty dishes.

This recipe I served with spaghetti noodles and broccolini.
 Sorry the finished meal photo is not so good. It was evening and all the natural light was gone so the kitchen lighting was not the best. Trust me, it was good. This is the closest recipe to the one in my book. My recipe says to remove the skin from the bone in chicken which I like because it reduces the fat and doesn't leave the slimy skin in the dish. I would definitely make this again and it is even good enough to serve for company!

Serve this Italian classic over fresh egg noodles or strand pasta, such as fettuccine or pappardelle, to soak up all the juices.

Ingredients:

  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 1 Tbs. salt, plus more, to taste
  • 1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground pepper, plus more, to taste
  • 1 chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 lb., cut into 8 serving pieces
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 red or yellow bell peppers, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, halved and sliced
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3/4 cup dry red wine
  • 3/4 cup chicken broth
  • 1 can (28 oz.) crushed plum tomatoes
  • 1 Tbs. dried oregano
  • 6 oz. button or cremini mushrooms, sliced

Directions:

Brown the chicken
On a large plate, stir together the flour, the 1 Tbs. salt and the 1 1/2 tsp. pepper. Coat the chicken pieces evenly with the flour mixture, shaking off the excess. In a large fry pan over medium-high heat, warm the oil. Add the chicken pieces, in batches if necessary, skin side down, and cook until golden brown on the bottom, about 7 minutes. Turn the chicken and cook on the second side until lightly browned, 3 to 4 minutes more. Transfer the chicken pieces to the slow cooker.

Cook the chicken and vegetables
Return the fry pan to medium-high heat. Add the bell peppers, onion and garlic and sauté until they start to soften, about 3 minutes. Pour in the wine and broth, and deglaze the pan, stirring to scrape up the browned bits on the pan bottom. Stir in the tomatoes and oregano and bring to a simmer. Pour the mixture over the chicken. Cover and cook on the high-heat setting for 4 hours or the low-heat setting for 8 hours.

Add the mushrooms
About 10 minutes before the dish is ready, stir in the mushrooms. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 6.

Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Food Made Fast Series, Slow Cooker, by Norman Kolpas (Oxmoor House, 2007).


Monday, February 7, 2011

Consider yourself warned!

It all started with this recipe for  Chocolate butermilk cake donuts.  Not that I am a huge donut fanatic but something about them just sucked me in. It was probably the sprinkles. My little one and I are suckers for sprinkles. I just didn't have a donut pan though. Here is where CSN stores come in! They have so many stores with so many products but I always come back to their cooking site. It was possible meant to be that they had a donut pan. Therefore without further ado I give you...donuts!!!

 Here is the donut pan I got from CSN's cookware.com I know it is a single use item in the kitchen but it was only $10 and is it really so cute! I decided to make them for breakfast last week since the littlest one woke me rather early. Let me say, baking at 7AM when you are super tired is not the best idea! I got flour everywhere and I burned myself too!
 Here it is filled with that chocolate donut batter.
The finished product!! So cute! I didn't  frost them with the glaze right away because we were in a hurry to get to preschool. I did glaze and put sprinkles on them later that afternoon. I just did a powder sugar dusting for breakfast. Of course now I can't find the pictures of the finished sprinkles ones for the life of me. I guess I will just have to make them again.
I think the husband approves.

 I know this little one was a big fan!
 Here are a few pointers for anyone who wants to give it a go. The pan says non stick. I never believe them and always spray with a little pam. On the first batch I used Pam for baking and it left little craters in my donuts. Fine for a moon theme morning but not terribly attractive in general. The next round I went sans pam and it was fine. I just had to turn the pan upside down and give it a moderate whack! Oh and don't over fill the pan or your donuts wont have holes.
I am thinking I will try this recipe next Whole wheat powdered sugar donuts
Oh but then there are these Red Velvet donuts and who could pass up these chocolate stout donuts?
How is a girl to choose?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Dream Home


dream homes
I know when my husband and I bought our home we had to make some concessions on things we would like to have and things we had to have. One of the things we caved on is a formal dining room. We have a lovely eat in kitchen but no formal dining room to entertain in. This is one feature I know we won't compromise on in our next home. An attached garage is a must as well!! Oh and a gas cooking stove. The list goes on and on. One fun thing about getting a formal dining room is getting to buy nice dining room furniture. I know my husband would love modern dining room furniture from CSN stores. I would just like something we can all sit around for Sunday roast dinner and not have to clear off all the weeks mail, play doh, and craft projects. At CSN stores you can find fabulous modern dining room furniture and everything else you would need to stock your kitchen too. I find something new I "have to have" each time I browse the site. That is why I am so excited for my next review of a product from CSN stores! Don't you think our modern dining room furniture would look spectacular in the dream home above? A girl can dream can't she? Did I fail to mention the beach front location and infinity pool on the list?

Friday, December 10, 2010

Say What? Josie Duggar

    Josie Duggar Celebrates Her 'Miracle' First Birthday





Is it just me or is there something weird about this picture? Regardless of your personal views on the Duggar family, I won't go there today, is it just me or does this look like a headband that comes with little fake piggy tails? I mean, she looks bald except for these two wild sprouts of hair coming out of the top of her head. Maybe it is the new fashion in extensions for babies? Either way, I think she, and Oprah, need to fire their stylists. Just saying.









              




           

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Money Laundering


Mexican Drug Money Photo 2 

I have a new hobby. Money laundering!  Well, unfortunately not this much cash. 

I was dropping off the little one at preschool Tuesday and parked in front of the bar. No she does not go to preschool in a bar, although not a bad idea. The preschool could function in the day and the bar at night? Hmmm. Anyway, her preschool is located in a shabby strip mall next to a dive bar. It is a great preschool, just a little trashy location. 

As I got everyone out of the car in the drizzly morning dew I noticed a $20 bill on the ground. It was wet and dirty like it had been there all night. Obviously someone did not end up paying for a round the night before at the bar.  As I bent over to pick it up I sort of looked around as if to see if the owner was nearby. If the owner was still nearby from the drunken night before I don't think I would have wanted to run into them. My first reaction was to think of how to return it to them. I was not about to take my kids into the bar searching for an owner. So the old saying, "finders keepers losers weepers" kicked in. This bill was pretty dirt and who knows what germs it contained. I shoved it in my pocket to take home and wash it off. Yes, laundering money is not always a crime. I spent my morning free time thinking of ways to spend my treasure. I decided that since I had found the money I would try to pay it forward as well. 

Today I took the trashy bill to starbucks and bought 4 five dollar gift cards. Now, friends who read this blog, don't be lurking at your mail box looking for your gift card. I am going to pay it forward to the people in our lives we don't always remember to appreciate. The postal lady (even though she is quite crabby, and often doesn't take my out going mail), the UPS lady (because she works super hard and always pets our nutty barky dog and gives him milk bones), and two other unsuspecting elves. I hope it brings a little Christmas cheer to these people and to the person who lost the $20 I hope it is not too much of a hardship to you, a couple less beers never did anyone any harm! 

Merry Christmas!