Friday, April 29, 2011

Pasta Primavera

Pasta Primavera.  The name just screams Spring.  Literally, primavera means Spring.  I thought that this would be quite fitting to welcome the season and enjoy some fresh produce and make sure that B and I don't sit around eating cake and cupcakes all the time and actually eat something good for us!  I bought a large bunch of asparagus that I was excited about using, seeing as it's a Spring vegetable, and I tried to use some other timely vegetables. Fennel is at the end of its season, and carrots are almost always in season.  The tomatoes and red pepper are in there because they were in the original recipe and because I just like them. 

I had never owned Herbes de Provence before I decided to make this recipe and I'm so glad I purchased them.  I love how they tasted and more than that, I loved how they made my house smell.  It was wonderful.  B came home, walked in the house and was instantly excited about dinner.  Predictably so, the baby lady wanted nothing to do with the entire dish.  I was ok with that though, because it was so good and I was glad that there was more for me to eat.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Baked Brie with Honey and Dried Cherries

I was at a first birthday party for one of baby lady's friends and I saw a beautiful wedge of brie on the table with some crackers.  Instant heaven.  I filled up my plate with some crackers and a piece of brie that was probably too large.  Not too large for me to eat...just that with so many people it probably wasn't fair to take a piece as big as I did.

Well after that I really had a taste for more brie.  And my favorite way to have it...baked of course.  A while back I posted a recipe for baked brie (here) but I didn't have any puff pastry.  I promised myself and anyone who happens to read here that the next time I made it, I would finally use puff pastry.  It was actually a goal that I had set for myself, seeing as I had never done it before.

So that night I finally did it.  I tweaked a recipe that called for some dried cherries and honey and went to town on it once it was finished.  Yes, B and I managed to consume an entire round of baked brie, no problem.  We've done it before and I can assure you that we will be doing it again.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Pork Chops with Fennel-Grapefruit Compote

I've never enjoyed eating grapefruits.  I remember watching my mom eat them, with the special spoon and all, and I tried it, but never understood their appeal.  But, I thought, that it would be tasty when cooked with other things I like.  And it would be an understatement to say that I like fennel and onion.  I may be obsessed with them actually.

After I made it and told B what we were having for dinner that night, he made a face and informed me that he doesn't like when orange juice is cooked into meals.  Oh well, you can't win 'em all!  And anyway, I liked it!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Lemon Bars - Take 2

Oh, how I love lemon bars!  I've always loved lemon everything and have recently made it my mission to find the best lemon bar recipe out there.  In the short time I've been blogging, I've already made lemon bars twice, using two different recipes, thus beginning my mission. 

The first recipe was ugly.  Delicious, but ugly.  I thought the end result was a super delicious filling and a slightly floury crust, but definitely worth the time to make and worth the calories to eat.  

This version of the lemon bar has a much better crust.  It's like shortbread, which I adore.  The filling is slightly more tart than I'm used to, but as I love lemon, that's not a bad thing.  In my opinion they are far more pretty than the first one, and probably equal in desirability for when it comes to lemon bars.

So, I'm pleased with this recipe, but my search is not over.  I believe that the absolute best remains to be discovered.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Garlicky Creamy Broccoli Soup

This picture doesn't exactly scream excitement, but neither does broccoli soup.  It's simple, easy and a great recipe to have on hand on a day when you have no idea what to eat and a head of broccoli is sitting in your fridge.  That's exactly the situation I found myself in the day I made this.  B came home from work not hungry, but I still wanted dinner.  He had declared that this would be "yuck" and didn't want it, so I decided to make it for myself.

The most interesting thing I learned while making this is that there's a basic ratio for "cream of" soup.  It's 3-2-1.  3 parts stock, 2 parts vegetable, 1 part dairy.  I upped the vegetable part a bit and still found this to be on the thin side, but it's really tasty.

And baby lady was rocking back and forth in her high chair trying to get at it, she loved it that much.

Serves 4 as a first course soup, or two as a main dish

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Chocolate Covered Rice Krispie Bites

A while back I made peanut butter Rice Krispie treats dipped in milk chocolate (see this post for details).  A few weeks ago I made April Fool's Sushi and had some leftover Rice Krispie treats that didn't work with the shapes/sizes that I needed.  So I had an idea.  I had Rice Krispie treats.  I had dark chocolate.  I had cute jimmies.  I had everything I needed for this delicious little poppable snack.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Roasted Cauliflower

I swore up and down to tons of people that I was the mother of the pickiest eater alive.  Baby lady would throw almost anything that was put on her tray and it was a game of distraction to get her to open her mouth for a spoon.  For example "ooh, look I have a Tupperware lid" and when she's occupied with that, BAM, we get the spoon in.  She didn't enjoy meals and neither did we.  It was actually something we dreaded, passing it off to the other whenever possible.

That all changed when she started eating table food (like she's a dog...this phrase weirds me out).  It turns out that she wants food, but it has to be for adults.  She has gobbled up salmon, broccoli, soup, pizza, peas and now cauliflower.  I made this as a side dish for myself, hoping that she would eat some as well, and she did!  I'm so excited because B doesn't like cauliflower so I never really make any for myself.  Now someone else in the house will eat it with me!  But I still have a feeling that she's the pickiest eater alive.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Easy Parsley Chicken

Growing up, I was the pickiest eater.  In fact, I think that's the reason why my daughter is so's payback.  I remember wanting chicken, Lipton noodles, raw vegetables (never cooked) and fruit.  I flirted with vegetarianism a few times, once because of seeing Jurassic Park, other times just because I was sick of meat.  But even though I tried, I always came back to chicken.

This recipe is so easy that I'm hoping that the payback I'm experiencing with my baby lady eases up a little bit and she decides that she likes chicken, just like I did.  I can handle making and eating this pretty frequently.  It's quick and easy, and has really good flavors, too.  And it's in cubes so it's not too hard for a little kid to eat.  I'm just hoping that she will actually eat it someday.

I served it with this broccoli.

Serves 4 as a main dish

Monday, April 18, 2011

Mini Yellow Cupcakes with Vanilla Buttercream

My little lady's friends are all about a year, or a bit younger and for some reason, although I'm not sure what it is, kids under one aren't supposed to eat chocolate.  So for that reason I wanted to make something that was baby sized and mostly allergen free (eggs and milk were both involved in the making of these cupcakes, but no nuts, fruit or chocolate)for her birthday party.  I thought that nothing would be more perfect than mini yellow cupcakes and vanilla buttercream for all of her friends.

The jimmies made them extra special and springy looking, and who doesn't like jimmies anyway?  I have to admit though, it wasn't just the kids and babies eating these as I've had more than my share.

Makes 24 mini cupcakes

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Minding Ben ~ book review

Minding Ben is a book that I won through Library Thing's early review program.  The string that comes with me winning is that I agree to read and review the book.  Here's my review.

Minding Ben is the new Nanny Diaries, but this time it stars 18 year old illegal immigrant Grace from Trinidad.  It takes the reader into the world of West Indian childcare givers in New York City, working for mostly white families, and the politics of doing so.  Grace wants to attend college, and finding a family to sponsor her will solve her problem of being illegal and provide her with income to send home to her family still living in Trinidad.  She ends up finding a family who says that they will sponsor her as she watches their young son Ben.

Much like Nanny Diaries, the family that Grace works for is miserable.  The mother is an awful person who is overly demanding and lacks compassion entirely.  The father is slightly better than the mother, except for when he predictably hits on Grace.  The son, unlike the boy in Nanny Diaries, has a minor role.  I was surprised at this seeing as he is what I thought the book would center around.  He was a minor character to me.

I really wanted to like Minding Ben but although it satisfied my craving for chick lit, it left me disappointed.  Grace started out being really likable, but ended up being the same person as she started out.  I expected some kind of forward momentum concerning character development but was left with none.  What I thoroughly enjoyed was the dialogue between the West Indian caregivers.  There were distinguishable accents for those from Trinidad, Jamaica and other islands.  I could almost hear the women speaking to each other.  I just wish I had liked them more.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Hard Cider Poached Tilapia

Since the baby lady has shown the occasional inclination towards seafood, I've been lookng for recipes that are not offensive to my fish wary palate that also are suitable for my one year old.  Being cooked in alcohol, this doesn't exactly fall into the category of baby friendlly, but I figured that since alcohol cooks off, I would give it a try.  The fish was a no-go for the littly lady, but B and I both ate a substantial amount of it, and we discovered that baby girl seems to like mushrooms.  Go figure.
Also, when you're making a meal that calls for part of a bottle of hard cider, you really have no other choice than to just drink the rest of it for dinner, right?  No choice at all....  

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Bacon and Leek Risotto in Parmesan Cups

Finally!  I've completed a Daring Cooks challenge (see the Daring Kitchen).  Last month was the first month I could have participated, but didn't so I'm excited that I did it this month.

This month we've been assigned the task of making an edible savory container and then filling it with something yummy.  Since my baby lady seems to have a strong affinity for risotto and bacon, and since I love leeks, I decided that bacon and leek risotto would be the winner.  And since B is a cheese freak (shoves shredded cheese into his mouth from the bag whenever we have tacos, pasta, salad) I figured a cheese cup would be the perfect vessel for creamy risotto.

The cups are really easy, so don't be daunted by them at all.  You just have to move them quickly once they come out of the oven, drape them over a cup and let them sit for a few minutes.  Then fill them with something this risotto!

Blog-checking lines: Renata of Testado, Provado & Aprovado! was our Daring Cooks’ April 2011 hostess. Renata challenged us to think “outside the plate” and create our own edible containers! Prizes are being awarded to the most creative edible container and filling, so vote on your favorite from April 17th to May 16th at

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Devil's Food Cupcakes with Chocolate Glaze

If you've been reading this for a while, then you know about my "not picky" husband.  Well here's some more of his non-pickiness....he hates buttercream frosting.  Especially grocery store frosting, which I have to admit can be kind of foul, but he also hates my buttercream and pretty much every other kind we've ever had.

He does like ganache though, and this glaze looked like something he would actually eat!  It's simple, and all you have to do is dunk the cupcakes in and BOOM, you're cupcakes are frosted.  No worries about piping or applying the frosting correctly to be pretty.  This cake and frosting is all about flavor.  Since I made these for my daughter's birthday party I added some multi-colored jimmies to brighten them up.

And just as expected, B enjoyed the "frosting".

makes 24 cupcakes

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Elegance of the Hedgehog ~ book review

The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  Oh my.  Where to start?   I can't stand this book.  The more I think about it, the more I dislike it.

Renée, a concierge in a ritzy Parisian apartment building is incredibly intelligent, but hides it from the rest of the world, terrified of being found out.  Paloma, a 12 year old resident of the building in which Renée is the concierge, is also incredibly intelligent and afraid of being found out.  She's also so fed up with her world of meaningless riches that she decides to set fire to her parents' apartment and then kill herself with an overdose of sleeping pills on her 13th birthday.

I had zero interest in reading this book, but my book club selected it as their first read, so I went along with it.  I even spent money on this thing.

OK back to the book.  Of course Renée gets found out, Paloma reveals her intelligence to Renée and they find in each other a kindred spirit.  Along the way, though, the reader (at least this one was) is made to feel as though he/she isn't smart enough to be reading the book.  Forgive me if I don't know what Phenomenology is.  Forgive me if I don't give a crap if I don't ever know what Phenomenology is.  I've read Tolstoy and I don't believe that I'm better than the average person for doing so.  Both subjects take play somewhat important roles in the book, as Renée displays how intelligent she is through them, but seriously, how many people have read Anna Karenina?  It's not that uncommon to have read it, is it?

A member of my book club says that she cried when she read the ending.  I'm not going to reveal the ending for anybody who is willing to submit themselves to the torture that is this book, but I'll just say that my response to the ending was "oh".  Then I shut the book for the very last time and I'm about to donate it to my local library because I can tell you right now that I am never reading this thing again.
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Monday, April 11, 2011

Goat Cheese Stuffed Baby Bell Peppers

I found out that my second box from Washington's Green Grocer was going to contain mixed bell peppers.  I had planned on making stuffed peppers of some sort, hopefully a vegetarian one.  Then I got my box and found these tiny beauties inside.

They don't exactly scream out, begging to be made into a main dish, so an appetizer seemed to be the way to go.  I had seen a recipe for stuffed baby bells once, but the only ingredient I had was the baby bell peppers, so I just decided to wing it, and this is what I came up with.

The peppers are stuffed with a mixture of herbs, shallots and goat cheese.  They're then roasted until soft and slightly blackened on the bottom and then enjoyed while still a bit warm.  I took these to a playdate as treats for the mommies and they were a big hit. 

Friday, April 8, 2011

Pea and Arugula Pasta

I received two large (12 or so ounces each) bunches of arugula in my  Washington's Green Grocer and I was at a loss.  B isn't exactly a huge fan of all things bitter and I couldn't imagine that the baby lady would be either, so I went onto facebook and begged my friends for ideas.  I received several suggestions, one of which was an easy pasta dish found here on Martha Stewart's website.

I loved the fact that this recipe had a bunch of peas in it because the tiny one eats those on occasion, and B is a huge fan.  When we traveled to Ireland, he was ecstatic about "mushy peas" being on the menu at all the restaurants.  I told him that he was eating glorified baby food....

Anyway,  I wouldn't call this recipe a winner for my household as I believe B called it "butt weed" at one point, but I enjoyed it.  I liked the occasional bit of bitterness and the brightness of peas (this sentence sound so pretentious) and of course I loved the pasta.  But who doesn't like pasta...oh yeah, my daughter!  I can't get over it.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Chocolate Mint Pudding

Before a few days ago, I never even considered making pudding.  I have nothing against using Jell-O brand cook and serve at all.  It easy and just takes a little bit of time and stirring.  But then the other day I thought that I should make banana pudding, you know, the one with the Nilla Wafers on top.  But lo and behold, I didn't have any Nilla Wafers, or banana flavoring and I also didn't have the 4 hours the recipe said it needed to chill.  I wanted something sweet and I wanted to eat it that night.

 I began a massive search of the internet for pudding recipes and ended up on Martha Stewart's plain chocolate pudding.  But then I got to thinking that mint would go well in there and, as I've been on a mint kick lately, peppermint whipped cream wouldn't be terrible either.  And so we have Chocolate Mint Pudding with Peppermint Whipped Cream!

serves 4

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Roasted Potato and Fennel Soup

Winter is just about to let go of my area and allow spring to take over, and for that reason, I'm getting all of my hearty soups in while I can.  I look forward to spring, but with it comes the lack of desire to make thick, hearty soups.  I know I won't be tasting them for a while, so I make a lot of soups come February and March.  I made this one last month, but just haven't gotten around to posting it yet.

There's something about this soup that I just love.  I think it's because it's not just another "loaded baked potato" soup, with cheddar and bacon sprinkled on top.  It could also be that I adore fennel.

The first time I really found fennel was in a fennel slaw on top of salmon at my favorite restaurant, and I've been hooked ever since.  So when I saw this combination of roasted potatoes and fennel I jumped for joy, and jumped into the kitchen ready to cook. 

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Triple Chocolate Fudge Cookies

I was going to a girls' afternoon and wanted to take something wonderful and somewhat easy since I didn't have a lot of time.  Chocolate chip cookies sounded perfect, but I didn't want to make from the recipe off the back of the bag.  I opened up Sherry Yard's The Secrets of Baking and found her chocolate chip recipe, but then on the next page there was this recipe.  Triple.  Chocolate.  Fudge. Cookies.  Winner!  It's a cocoa based dough, with bittersweet and white chocolate chips throughout.  I normally hate white chocolate (it's NOT chocolate!) but it complements the bittersweet chips very nicely.  I used Ghiradelli chips and I think the quality made a difference in the flavor of the white chocolate, but who knows.  Maybe my tastes are changing and I'm opening up to a whole new world of sweets...

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

Monday, April 4, 2011

Citrus and Herb Chickpeas

I'm so glad that I tried chickpeas again.  I'm one of those "texture" people who is seriously affected by the way food feels when I eat it.  Shrimp seems to pop when I chew it and beans are strangely grainy, so I make sure to NEVER eat anything with shrimp or beans.  
The baby lady has recently asserted herself when it comes to food and she's decided that unless it's ground beef, she's not eating meat.  That, of course, leaves me worried that she's not getting enough protein.  So I figured that since chickpeas are a great source of protein, I would give them a try and see if she would eat them.  No dice, but I really enjoyed these!  I was so surprised, but there I was, popping them in my mouth like peanuts.  So, at least I discovered another "new" food for me.  

Friday, April 1, 2011

April Fool's Day Sushi

I am not a sushi eater, and I never will be...unless it's this "sushi"!  For April Fool's Day I decided to make a faux sushi.  This is so easy, and it's surprisingly tasty.  

I got the idea from a great book my friend Christy from The Adventures of Mini-Martha got me last year for my birthday.  The book is Fun Stuff - Silly Snacks, and it's bound to become a much-used book when the baby lady gets a little older.  It's just loaded with good ideas for really cute food. 
So April Fool's everyone, and I hope you enjoy the sushi!


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