Monday, February 28, 2011

Maple Spice Ice Cream

1/2 cup maple syrup
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp Kosher salt
1 cup milk

1) In a small saucepan over medium heat, reduce maple syrup by half, about 10 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, in a separate saucepan over medium-low heat, simmer one cup cream with allspice, cloves, cinnamon and salt, stirring occasionally until cream begins to simmer, about 5 minutes.  Allow to stand, off heat, for 20 minutes.
3) Strain into a bowl, discarding spices.  Stir in reduced maple syrup, remaining cup of cream, and the milk.  Transfer bowl to refrigerator or set into an ice bath to chill.
4) When cold, pour into bowl of an ice cream machine and churn according to manufacturer's directions.  Transfer to a container and freeze until solid, at least 2 hours.  Let sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before serving, or in refrigerator for 15 to 30 minutes.

Review:  This recipe originally called for cardamom pods (not available locally), whole cloves (also not available locally) and one cinnamon stick.  I decided to substitute with ground ingredients, but needed to purchase cardamom.  I found it for $15 and decided that was too expensive!  Allspice is a close substitute and I already owned it.  So, ground and substituted it was!  It turned out yummy.  The spices were a strong flavor.  Unfortunately, the maple was not as strong.  I think I'll try again, but use 1 cup of maple syrup and reduce it to 1/2 cup.  Yum!

Shells With Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas & Ricotta

1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
1 head cauliflower (about 2 lbs), cut into florets
1 can (15.5oz) chickpeas, rinsed and drained
coarse salt and ground pepper
5oz crusty bread, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (2 cups)
1 lb medium shells
3 Tbs chopped fresh parsley
1/2 cup fresh ricotta

1) Preheat oven to 425F, with racks in upper and lower thirds.  On a rimmed baking sheet, toss together 2 Tbs oil, cauliflower and chickpeas; season with salt and pepper.  Arrange cauliflower and chickpeas in a single layer and roast until cauliflower is tender and chickpeas are crunchy, 25 minutes.  On another rimmed baking sheet, arrange bread in a single layer and toast until golden and crisp, 10 minutes.
2) Meanwhile, in a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente.  Drain pasta and return to pot.  Add cauliflower mixture, 2 Tbs oil and parsley.  Season with salt and pepper and toss to combine.  To serve, top with croutons and ricotta, then drizzle with oil.

Review: Argh, this didn't make as much food as I had hoped.  Fortunately, we still have some lasagna leftovers!  This was actually pretty easy to make.  But, I thought it was a bit bland.  Mike really liked it as is.  I'm thinking some thyme and white wine vinegar may spruce it up a bit.  And, I used rotini, as Dreamfield's does not yet make a shell shape.  Maybe someday . . .

Saturday, February 26, 2011

This Week's Planned Menu

Asparagus Pesto Lasagna

Shells With Roasted Cauliflower, Chickpeas & Ricotta
Maple Spice Ice Cream

Spaghetti With Kale-Pecan Pesto

Pierogies (from a box)

fast food (I'm no good left on my own!!  Mike should never leave town)

Mushroom, White Bean & Leek Ragout

Baked Leek & Sweet Potato Gratin

Israeli Couscous & Veggies

1 pkg Israeli couscous
2 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 large bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and leaves coarsely chopped
2 cups baby bella mushrooms, coarsely chopped
2 tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp smoked paprika

1) Prepare Israeli couscous according to package directions.  Set aside.
2) Meanwhile, in a large saute pan, heat oil and garlic over medium-high heat, until garlic is fragrant. 
3) Add all vegetables and saute until mushrooms are soft and chard is wilted, about 6 to 8 minutes. 
4) Add couscous to vegetable mixture.  Mix in cumin and smoked paprika.  Serve.

Review:  This is an original recipe!!  Last night, I was scheduled to make a gratin.  However, Mike decided he had no interest in the recipe, at all.  And, we were both exhausted after long weeks.  So, we had pizza delivered last night. 

So, tonight dinner rolled around and I fretted about what to do with the leftover vegetables I had on hand.  Mike suggested using them all with some pasta or the Israeli couscous in the pantry.  The only pasta we had on hand was spaghetti or lasagna noodles, so the couscous won!  I now believe it's the only rational option, given the veggie options we had.  So, I cooked everything up and then Mike and I debated what spices to use.  Of course, he offered up cumin, which is his favorite spice.  He desired a smoky flavor, so I suggested the smoked paprika and our recipe was done!  This turned out to be wonderfully yummy, though a bit soupy.  It may help to cook the mushroom separately, since they produce so much water when cooking.  But, we ate all of the food and was happy.  What more could I ask for?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Rustic "Sausage" & Angel Hair Pasta

1 box angel hair or spaghetti
1 Tbs olive oil
1 pkg Tofurky Italian Sausage, crumbled
1 lb baby bellas, sliced
1 bell pepper (any color), coarsely chopped
1/2 Tbs dried Italian seasoning blend
14.5oz can diced tomatoes, undrained
2 Tbs shredded Parmesan cheese
2 Tbs chopped fresh parsley

1) Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and return to pan.
2) Meanwhile, heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausage; cook about 3 minutes, until sausage is warmed, stirring frequently.
3) Add mushrooms, bell pepper and Italian seasoning.  Reduce heat to medium; continue cooking, 3 to 4 minutes until mushrooms begin to soften, stirring frequently.  Stir in tomatoes; cook 5 to 7 minutes until desired consistency, stirring occasionally.
4) To serve, spoon sauce over pasta and toss.  Or, add pasta to skillet with sauce and toss.  Garnish with Parmesan cheese and chopped parsley.

Review:  This is one of the rare instances in which I tweaked a recipe that originally called for meat.  Tofurky was a great stand-in.  We had not tried this sausage before, but it was tasty!  The recipe overall had a great flavor and was pretty filling.

And, fortunately for me, Mike was the primary cook tonight, while I did laundry and vacuumed.  We had recently tried a new litter and our home had an awful smell.  So, I sprinkled baking soda throughout the upstairs and vacuumed away!  It did wonders for the smell.  Unfortunately, the vacuum now refuses to recline, which occurred before I could vacuum the downstairs!  So, this is the 3rd Dyson to fail me in 6 months.  Maybe I'm cursed.  I'm calling tech support tomorrow night, as I'm still under warranty, and will hopefully be able to vacuum again soon!!

Monday, February 21, 2011

I Made A Quilt!!

In anticipation of moving back to the East Coast, I began making plans to make our two cats quilts for their crates.  It will be a loooooong drive, and the fleece blankets didn't seem substantial enough for five days in a crate for Dmitri when we moved from Maine to Idaho three years ago.  So, I received Quilting For Dummies for Christmas and have been studying it ever since.  As I read each chapter, I obtained supplies as described in that chapter.  Finally, I had a 3 day weekend and everything I needed.

So, I bought batting for a twin size quilt and divided it into fourths.  That will be two quilts for each kitty.  Dmitri got to have the first quilt.  I kept it pretty basic, not using quilting squares or any patterns.  I just had enough fabric to cover the top and bottom, then a different color for the edging.  It wasn't perfect, but Dmitri liked it just fine:

Then, Katya got jealous and wanted to hide under it, too.  So she kicked Dmitri out and hid:

Then Dmitri contemplated smashing her for it, but decided to be nice and let her hide:

So, I'm going to learn from my mistakes and start putting together Katya's quilt. Maybe tomorrow . . .

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Garden Vegetable Gratin

3 lbs russet potatoes
2 Tbs unsalted butter
4 oz shallots, diced
1 medium carrot, diced
1 small zucchini, diced
1 cup frozen peas, thawed
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbs thyme
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
1/4 tsp grated or ground mace
3 cups vegetable broth
1 cup cream

1) Preheat the oven to 350F. Peel and thinly slice the potatoes. Place the slices in a bowl, cover with cool water and set aside.
2) Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
3) Add the shallots, carrot, zucchini and peas. Cook, stirring often, until softened, about 3 minutes.
4) Add the garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and mace. Stir well to warm through. Remove from the heat.
5) Layer the potatoes and vegetable mixture in a 10-cup gratin or 9-by-13-inch baking dish by first blotting some potato slices on a paper towel, then layering them across the bottom of the dish. Add some of the vegetable mixture, spread it over the slices, then blot dry more slices and add them as another layer. Keep layering the casserole, like a lasagna, ending with a layer of potato slices.
6) Whisk the broth and cream in a large bowl. Pour it over the contents of the baking dish.
7) Bake, uncovered, basting occasionally, until it is golden and most of the liquid has been absorbed, about 2 hours.

Review:  My father-in-law emailed me a link of recipes for Thanksgiving.  I've been slowly making them all.  This one got pushed back a few times, because it seemed so labor intensive.  Indeed, it was.  The picture of the dish was very creamy and all of the potatoes were covered.  When I made it, I nearly had potato chips on top!  I did baste the dish fairly often, singeing my fingertips in the process, but yet it still didn't cook uniformly!  However, it was still very yummy, and quite filling. It also made about 10 servings.  We have a ton of food!!!!

Also, I didn't use mace.  I had no idea what it was and figured it would be no big deal if I left it out.  Mike googled it to find it's the outer covering of nutmeg.  Weird!  I was especially glad I didn't search high and low for it, because I would have been mad to buy something I'm likely allergic to (nutmeg allergy).  But, for those who were curious, now you know what mace is!

This Week's Planned Menu

Garden Vegetable Gratin

Lentil Orzo Casserole

Pasta With Asparagus

Linguine With Light Tomato Cream Sauce

Rustic "Sausage" & Angel Hair Pasta

pizza delivery

Israeli Couscous & Veggies

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta With Kalamata Olives & Feta

1 lb penne pasta
1/4 cup kalamata olives, coarsely chopped
1 handful parsley, chopped
1/2 cup feta, crumbled

2 large roasted red peppers, or 1 1/2 cups jarred roasted red pepper
1 Tbs fresh oregano
2 cloves garlic
2 Tbs pine nuts, toasted
2 Tbs feta (crumbled)
2 Tbs olive oil
2 tsp balsamic vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

1)  Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and set aside.
2) Place all pesto ingredients into a food processor.  Pulse until all ingredients are minced and mixed.
3) Toss pasta with pesto, kalamata olives and parsley.  Top with feta.

Review:  This was pretty easy, and quick to make.  However, the pesto appearance was less than appetizing.  The smell was pretty tangy, too.  But, with all the ingredients tossed together, it was pretty good.  Unfortunately, it didn't make much food.  I bet this would be tasty with wilted spinach, which would also add a portion or two!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

This Week's Planned Menu



Squash Enchiladas With Tomatillo Sauce

Roasted Red Pepper Pesto Pasta With Kalamata Olives & Feta

pierogies (from a box)

pizza delivery


Friday, February 11, 2011

Greek 7 Layer Dip

1 1/2 cups hummus
1 cup tzatziki sauce
1 cup tomato, cut into small pieces
1/2 cup cucumber, cut into small pieces
1/4 cup feta, crumbled
1/4 cup kalamata olives, pitted and coarsely chopped
1 handful mint, chopped
bag of pita chips

1) Assemble dip starting with the hummus and stacking each ingredient on top of the last.
2) Serve with pita chips.

Review:  It's pretty standard to see 7 layer dips of the Mexican variety at parties.  It's yummy, but a little ordinary at this point.  I stumbled across this recipe and thought it would be perfect for the next party I go to.  Tonight, we went to the party for the interviewees that are trying to get into the doctorate program Mike is in.  This was a HUGE hit.  Everyone loved it, which made me incredibly happy!  I bought the hummus, tzatziki sauce, feta and kalamata olives all at Costco (so I have leftovers).  I feared I would have to make the tzatziki sauce from scratch and was worried about the daunting task.  I also contemplated buying a side from the Greek restaurant in town.  I lucked out when I saw it at Costco and may have squealed with glee in the store.  Anyway, it was pretty easy to pull together and everyone loved it.  And, I have at least two new readers for my blog.  :) 

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Pizza Due To Flood

My shower concluded yesterday morning with Mike racing up the stairs to tell me the kitchen had flooded.  Happy Monday!  The utility room and laundry room had standing water and it was seeping into the kitchen.  I later discovered it had also seeped into the living room.

We promptly called the landlord, who explained that it's happened to several condos.  The settling concrete from the patio was busting pipes open all across the complex.  Great.  Three hours later, the concrete guys were out to tear up the patio and the plumber restored my ability to use water by 5:30pm.  A carpet cleaning crew arrived this morning to clean up the living room.

The day was fraught with crises.  I ran out at one point to purchase a LARGE canister of Clorox wipes and a baby gate to keep the kitties away.  The smallest kitty discovered she could squeeze through the bars and then got her hip stuck, bringing the gate crashing down on her.  She came out of the ordeal unscathed somehow.  I had to move two bookcases full of movies out of the way, due to flooding.  They were moved into the kitchen, blocking the dishwasher.  I had to use the bathroom at the convenience store.  And, I got to "mop" the kitchen on my hands and knees with Clorox wipes.

So, I was tired (and today I'm sore) and fed up with everything.  When Mike got home, he offered to cook dinner, but the kitchen was understandably a wreck.  So, he ordered pizza and brought it home.  I'm so lucky to have a wonderful husband.  And, I'm happy life has been restored and I got to cook Mexican Pasta tonight.  What a relief!  The living room is still a wreck, but there's less pressure to get that back to normalcy.  :)

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Polenta Chili Casserole

1 1/4 cups yellow cornmeal
1/2 tsp salt
4 cups boiling water
2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided
3 cans (15oz each) vegetarian chili with beans
1 pkg (16oz) frozen mixed vegetables, thawed and well drained

1) In a large saucepan, combine cornmeal and salt. Gradually whisk in boiling water. Cook and stir over medium heat for 5 minutes or until thickened. Remove from the heat. Stir in 1/4 cup cheddar cheese until melted.
2) Spread into a 13x9in baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, at 350F for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, heat chili according to package directions.
3) Spread vegetables over polenta; top with chili. Sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake 12-15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving. 

Review:  My mother-in-law sent me this recipe not too long and I was just waiting for the right time to make it.  It seemed like a good Super Bowl Sunday kind of meal, even though we weren't going to watch the game.  Mike bought two cans of 'medium' chili and one can of 'spicy' chili.  I love spicy foods, but it's out of character for him.  I found this recipe to be super easy to make and really didn't take very long (I didn't even bother thawing the vegetables!).  It looked like a molten mess when I pulled it out of the oven, and even worse when I served it up.  But the flavor makes up for it. This was incredibly delicious!!  It was made even yummier by Mike's idea to serve it up with his favorite Mexican sour cream.  Yum!!!

This Week's Planned Menu

Polenta Chili Casserole

takeout, due to burst water pipe & ensuing flood . . .

Mexican Pasta

Farfalle With Tomato-Goat Cheese Cream Sauce

Greek 7 Layer Dip - party for doc student interviewees

tortellini with herbed butter

Baby Bellas & Ziti

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Rotini Greek Salad

1 box rotini
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/2 cup sliced black olives
1/2 cup feta cheese, crumbled
1 green bell pepper, chopped
2 Roma tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
3 Tbs red wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste
1 Tbs chopped fresh basil
1 Tbs chopped fresh oregano

1) Cook rotini according to package directions; rinse in cold water and drain well.
2) Toss red onion, black olives, Feta cheese, bell pepper and tomatoes together in a bowl.
3) Whisk together: olive oil, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, basil and oregano until well blended.
4) Toss pasta gently with vegetables and dressing mixture.
5) Refrigerate before serving.

Review:  I haven't felt well most of this week and have been incredibly tired.  I reworked the menu plan to accomodate this.  Fortunately, Mike has Wednesdays off (though he spends the entire day working on his dissertation!) and was able to make this for me before I got home.  Awesome.  He did a great job and this was really yummy.   We found the recipe on the side of our pasta box and clipped it last week.  You never know where you'll find a great recipe!