Friday, January 30, 2009

Crock Pot Dinners

Okay, for our first catageory of dinners, and because I am running so short on time these days, here is a list of lovely dinners to be made in the Crock Pot. I have a 5-quart Crock pot, and that is the perfect size to feed all of us, plus leave left overs for me to take to reheat for lunch.

Split Pea Soup
Chicken Cacciatore
Chicken with Sage
Beef in Pomegranate Sauce
Pork Chops
Veal Shanks

If you want more Crock pot ideas, check out these sites:
A Year of Crock-potting
Just Slow Cooking

Also type in slow cooker on the Food Network.

And this is how you will feel when you get home and dinner is ready--

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Little Dorothy

Little Dorothy used to fall asleep on her sister's lap during school hours. At first the nuns at the Orphanage, St. Gertrude's Academy, didn't want to take Dorothy.

"She's too little," the Superior said. "We don't have any girls under 5 and we have nowhere to put her during the day."

But Aunt Mae convinced them not to separate the sisters who had lost both of their parents and their older sister to the flu epidemic, and whose brother had been sent down the road to the boys' school.

"Please don't separate them," she said. "Kate will take care of her sister."

And so Kate had to promise to keep Dorothy with her at her desk in the schoolroom during the day, and to keep her quiet. Dorothy was a good girl, so she would curl up on the bench next to her sister and listen to the lessons until she was sleepy enough to take a nap. She was only 3 years old.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

First-ever Toddler's Foodie Event

Luisito and I are hosting a toddler's foodie event. He is the mastermind behind it -- I just type in what he tells me.

This foodie event is a real challenge to all of you wonderful foodie Moms and Dads out there who love to create nutritious and delicious meals for your families.

The rules:

1. You can only use the ingredients chosen by the mastermind.
2. You must be able to produce the meal in under 29 seconds.
3. It must be beautifully presented -- choose the wrong plate, and you're outta here!
4. No tricks allowed. Nothing a la Jessica Seinfeld. The mastermind knows if you have added a secret puree. Don't ask me how. He knows. Everytime.
5. Leftovers are not allowed. The mastermind will not stand for reheated food.

The mastermind himself. Doesn't he look handsome and well-nourished?

Here he is again eating tiramisu on his baptism day.

Now for the ingredients. This is what you get to work with. No back-talk now. The decision has been made.

Ingredient 1: Trader Joe's yogurt

Ingredient 2: Salami, preferably Columbus and not Gallo, although fresh-sliced will also work. No prosciutto, coppa, or jamon serrano, please.

Ingredient 3: Bananas

Please submit your ideas in the comments section. The winner gets to come over and have a big glass of wine with me and watch Thomas the Tank Engine videos!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Pear Tarte Tatin, again

Because the boys asked for it, and because it is a rainy day, I made the pear Tarte Tatin again, same as last month.

I've also submitted it to the A Taste of the Mediterranean France event, which was another good reason to make it again. Check out the neat recipes there!

3 pears, peeled and sliced
2 cups of red wine
1/2 cup of sugar
1 tsp nutmeg
2 T butter
another 1/2 cup sugar

Poach the pears in the wine, first 1/2 cup of sugar and nutmeg for a couple of hours. While they are soaking, butter a pie plate with 1 tablespoon of the butter, and sprinkle 1/4 cup sugar onto the buttered plate.

Preheat the oven to 400F. Remove the pears from the wine with a slotted spoon and arrange in a pretty pattern on the plate on top of the butter and sugar. Sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and dab remaining 1 tablespoon of butter over the top.

Cover plate with a pie crust (pre-made, or your favorite pate brisee), folding the edges back in towards the center. Cut a couple of small slits in the middle for the steam to escape.

Bake for 40-45 minutes until pie crust is golden and syrup is thick and ruby-colored.

Flip immediately onto a large plate after removing pie from the oven, and let cool a bit before serving.

inspired by Georganne Brennan's Tarte Tatin in Potager

It feels right somehow, now that we're back to real January weather. Cheers!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Is It Really January?

Give a boy some sunshine, a wide open space, and a good stick to play with, and he is happy for hours!

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Out with 2008, In with 2009

I can't believe I scored 15 out of 16 on the In and Out list. I mean, we don't live in trend-setting Manhattan. We're just California beach bums. Hah! (And it's all because I buy the pre-fab pie crusts!)

Read Mark Bittman's New Year column here:

Fresh Start for a New Year? Let's Begin in the Kitchen.

And check out his wonderful blog, of course, but don't miss the SF Chronicle's Food and Wine site, either.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

More on the Dinner-time Blues

I have decided to organize my recipes into categories before actually calendaring meals for a week or a month. I want to do this because:
  1. Sometimes I don't want to eat what I said I would make;
  2. sometimes other people don't want to eat what I said I would make;
  3. sometimes there isn't enough time to make what I said I would make;
  4. sometimes I forgot just ONE IMPORTANT INGREDIENT at the store, but that wrecks everything;
  5. and sometimes the Crockpot doesn't cooperate.

So my recipes all fall into the following categories, with some overlap:

  • Make-ahead Dinners
  • Vegetarian Dinners
  • Crockpot Dinners
  • Protein-filled Dinners
  • 30-minute Dinners
  • 5-minute It's an Emergency Dinners
  • Low Points (as in Weight Watchers) Dinners

What I plan to do is pick a dinner from each category, with the possibility of substituting another dinner from the same category if something or someone requires flexibility.

Next up on the list....organizing all of the categories and posting their recipes!
Stay tuned....and here's a little song....

Sunday, January 11, 2009

What is a cathedral?






Los Angeles

View results

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Cake for Breakfast

There is one day a year that we eat cake for breakfast, and that is the Three Kings' Day.

The day of the Three Kings is celebrated on January 6th. It is called Dia de los Reyes in Spanish, Epiphany in English. Many countries have the custom of eating a special cake on this day, a cake with a toy prize baked inside. If you get the slice with the prize, you are the winner for the whole year.

Well, in Spain you eat this cake after lunch on the day of Epiphany, but since we usually have school and work on January 6 here in the States, because it is not a holiday here, we decided that our family was going to have cake for breakfast. So there you have it! Mama makes a cake that looks as much like a Roscon de Reyes as she can manage -- usually it is a spice cake with lots of raisins and currants and dried cherries, but sometimes it is a carrot cake, and irish soda bread works nicely too. The cake gets smothered with cream, and we eat it for breakfast!

Typically there is a winner, but because I am always afraid that some one will swallow a little treat that is baked into the bread, I don't do that, and we are all winners!

Sometimes we eat pancakes for dinner, but that is another story.

Check out the Make Your Own King Cake event:
King Cake 2009
I am submitting my irish soda bread version as our very own king cake to this event. The soda bread recipe is from the Silver Palate Good Times Cookbook. I love the Silver Palate Cookbooks, although they are getting a little old. I still think they're the best. They're what I learned to cook with!


3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups dried fruit (currants, raisins, cherries, apricots)
1 3/4 cups buttermilk
2 eggs; well beaten
2 tbsp sweet butter, melted

Coat a 9- or 10-inch cake pan with cooking spray (or you can use a cast iron skillet). Line the pan with a circle of waxed paper cut to fit.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Sift flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together. Add currants and toss well to coat.

Whisk together the buttermilk, eggs, and melted butter. Add this to the dry ingredients and mix till blended, but do NOT overmix.

Spoon batter into the prepared skillet or cake pan and smooth top gently with a spatula. Dot with butter if desired.

Bake until golden brown and puffed. It should take about 50-55 minutes of baking time. It's done if a toothpick or thin knife inserted into the center comes out clean. Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

Cut in half, and spread whipped cream over the bottom half, thickly! Place top back on and serve, slicing into wedges at the table.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Dinner-time Blues

One of my New Year's resolutions is not to be singing the dinner-time blues anymore.

You know, that 30 minutes of time when the big boy is so hungry he is climbing the walls and the little boy is so hungry that he is pulling me physically to the refrigerator to get him something to eat because he can't see up on the countertop that I am making his dinner.

When I get the dinner-time blues, usually I am hungry because I haven't had anything to eat since lunch, and Papa is cranky because he's had a long day.

I so imagine coming home after work to a warm house, where dinner is ready for the table in about 10 minutes, and some fun music is playing on the stereo and we all talk and laugh about things that happened during the day.

I know why get the dinner-time blues, so why can't I work around them? I'm going to try organizing some weekly menus. All suggestions welcome. Stick with me!