Entries Tagged as 'food'

confession: my epic holiday fail

December 19th, 2014 · 8 Comments

So, last year, I faced the ultimate culinary challenge: a holiday meal for a dozen people. 

And you’d think that would be a huge success, right?  People do this all over the world, and it goes off without a hitch, so this Saveur-endorsed expert will have no trouble, right?  The girl who’s piped eclairs and rendered duck fat and baked cakes from scratch?

Sure, you would think so.

And you would be wrong.

Don’t those potatoes look so great?  Sure, they do.  They look terrific.

But my guests, the ones who were supposed to be eating them for Christmas dinner last year… what did they get?

Oh, sorry.  They got a bunch of burned potatoes.

And, you guys… I feel like I have some story to tell, but there’s no story here.

I was six months pregnant.  I didn’t have a crying baby to look after or a seven-month sleep deficit.

I just tried my best at a holiday dinner, and… well, I burned the potatoes.  In fact, I burned everything.  The details aren’t really important, so let me just say: it was inedible.  I spent all day cooking, and there was literally no edible food on our table.  We didn’t even save the leftovers — and, yes, there were plenty.  They went straight into the trash.

I felt awful.  I felt so badly about ruining Christmas dinner that I could hardly talk about it for months — Chad had to pretend, every time I brought it up, that really, it wasn’t so bad.  Sure, the potatoes were tossed into the garbage, but, even a holiday dinner sometimes goes awry; people understand.  No one starved.

And as our family was leaving (after I’d given them enough dessert and wine to ensure they weren’t still actively hungry, even if they weren’t quite full), my mother in law told me that the first time she’d cooked for her husband’s parents, she’d done the same thing.  She’d spent all day in the kitchen, planned a perfect menu, and then burned the whole thing.

And, you know what?  Someday I hope to tell this story to our son’s wife.  Some holiday, many decades from now, when I see her (and him! I’m raising a man who cooks, if it’s the last thing I do) take on the incredible effort of a holiday meal and see it go wrong, I’ll share this story.  I’ll tell them about that time, a few months before he came into this world, when I bit off more than I could chew and came up just a little bit short.

And I’ll tell them about how we all laughed about it the next year (while eating the store-bought backup dishes I’m ordering this time around). 

So, this year, turn on the Christmas lights.  Open a bottle of wine.  Play some great music and take a moment to focus on the faces of the people around your table.  Because life goes by really fast, and this year’s burned potatoes are next year’s funny story.  And a decade later, they’re a treasured memory of a time you tried and failed; a time you were just human and not superwoman. 

So go ahead.  Burn the heck out of those potatoes. 

Tags: food · holiday · life

slow cooker vegetable stew

October 8th, 2014 · No Comments

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Forgive me if I sound a bit intense here.

BUT ZOMG THIS RECIPE IS SO FREAKING GOOD.

It really shouldn’t be.  This dish is basically nothing more than a few fresh veggies, a little butter, and some cheese.  No rare and expensive spices.  No fancy cooking techniques.  Just dump it all into the slow cooker, and come back in eight hours.

That’s literally it.

And yet… so good.  So easy, so simple, so delicious — and so mind-blowingly good. 

The slow cooker has become my best friend in the kitchen lately.  No matter how many times the baby cries or the dogs need to go outside or the phone rings — nothing burns.  It has single-handedly saved our family from starvation (or, at least, from take-out) many, many times in the last eight months. 

As a former vegetarian, this stew is light enough for lunch and hearty enough for dinner over brown rice.  But when I cooked it for a guest, I added panko-crusted chicken breast to serve over the top — based on this gem of a recipe.  Totally easy and completely delicious. 

PS — If you look back at the panko-chicken recipe, you’ll notice me spouting off advice about picky-eater kids… I’ll be taking my own advice in just a few months! 

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Slow Cooker Veggie Stew

INGREDIENTS
1 pound baby carrots, diced
1 large onion, diced (about 1 cup)
2 zucchini, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 yellow squash, cut into 1/2-inch slices
2 bell peppers, diced
1/2 stick unsalted butter
1 14-ounce can diced tomatoes
1 cup white wine
10 leaves fresh basil, chopped
1 cup parmesan cheese
1 tbsp sea salt
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon pepper

DIRECTIONS

Combine all the ingredients in a 6-quart slow cooker; stir to combine.  Cook on high heat for 8 hours.  Serve with additional parmesan cheese and fresh basil.

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Tags: food · main dishes

avocado and egg toasts

August 15th, 2014 · 1 Comment

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So, this avocado-and-egg thing.  Is this a thing that people know about?

Because it is AWESOME.

And so incredibly easy.  I love breakfast foods probably about ten zillion times more than the average person, so I could happily eat this for lunch or dinner too. 

But adding avocado turns this simple little scrambled-eggs-on-toast dish into something even more delicious and special, and even better for you.  Basically, win-win.

So, brunch this weekend?  This is what you’re having.  You can thank me later.

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avocado and egg toasts

INGREDIENTS
1 teaspoon butter
1 egg, beaten
1/4 avocado
3-4 baguette slices, toasted
Chives
Salt
Pepper

DIRECTIONS

In small nonstick pan, melt butter over medium heat.  Add egg; season with salt and pepper and scramble.

In a separate bowl, mash the avocado and season it with additional salt and pepper.

Spread the avocado on toast, then top with the scrambled egg and sprinkle with pepper and chives.  Serve warm.

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Tags: Breakfast and Brunch · food

baked quinoa and eggs

July 3rd, 2014 · No Comments

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I haven’t always been a breakfast person, but I find that as I get older (and, more importantly, busier), breakfast has become my favorite meal of the day. 

Let’s be clear: I’ve always loved eating breakfast foods.  I regularly go out for dinner and order omelettes and bagels when they’re on the menu, but somehow eating a big meal first thing in the morning has never been my thing. 

That changed a lot when I got pregnant — to avoid morning sickness, the first thing I’d do after waking up was to make myself a few slices of toast for breakfast.  And eventually, it became a bit of a habit — after the first trimester was over, I still found myself craving something healthy and delicious in the mornings.

And this is the perfect recipe for those cravings — it’s a boost of protein, vitamins and whole grains in a single dish.  It’s a yummy, nutritious way to start your day! 

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Baked Quinoa and Eggs

INGREDIENTS
2 cups cooked quinoa (cooked according to package instructions)
4 cups spinach leaves
1 tbsp olive oil
1 red bell pepper, diced
4 eggs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tbsp chives
Sea salt
Fresh ground pepper

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 375.  In a medium saucepan, saute the spinach and bell pepper in olive oil, adding Parmesan cheese, sea salt and ground pepper to taste (approximately 5-8 minutes).  In a medium-sized baking dish, spread cooked quinoa across the bottom of the dish, and then top with the spinach and bell pepper mixture.  Carefully break four eggs on top of the spinach mixture, keeping the egg yolks intact. 

Bake until the egg whites are set, about 15 minutes.  Remove from the oven and sprinkle with chives and additional ground pepper.  Serve warm.

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Tags: Breakfast and Brunch · food

Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake

May 19th, 2014 · 6 Comments

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Even when I’m not posting a ton of new recipes on this site, I bake.  A lot. 

I bake when I’m hungry.  I bake when I’m bored.  I bake when people are coming over; I bake when it’s just me and Chad.  I bake when I’m stressed, and I bake when I’m relaxed.  Pretty much, if I’m not overwhelmingly busy… I bake. 

So a few days before going into labor, guess what I was doing?  I’d already followed some (extremely good) advice and prepared a bunch of make-ahead dinners for our first week with the baby (my slow-cooker BBQ chicken was a major staple), but I wanted to try something a little more fun. 

And I settled on this lemon pound cake.  It’s an easy, no fuss recipe that uses mostly ingredients you probably have on hand.  Fresh blueberries are great, but for a recipe like this, thawed frozen ones work just as well, and you could always use lemon juice instead of fresh lemons to make this a little easier.  But the thing I love most about pound cakes is that they’re basically foolproof — just combine all the ingredients, stir, and bake! 

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Blueberry Sour Cream Pound Cake

INGREDIENTS
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tbsp all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1/4 cup sour cream
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 eggs
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp lemon zest

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.  Spray a 5″ by 9″ loaf pan with nonstick cooking spray.

Cream together the butter, sour cream, and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add vanilla extract, salt and eggs, one at a time, mixing thoroughly each time.  Add 1 1/2 cups of flour in several steps, mixing until just incorporated.  Toss blueberries in remaining 2 tablespoons flour and fold them into the finished batter.

Bake until a toothpick or slim knife inserted into center of each cake comes out clean, about 70 minutes. 

For the whipped cream, combine the heavy cream, 2 tbsp sugar and lemon zest.  Beat with an electric mixer to desired consistency, and sprinkle with additional lemon zest to serve.

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Tags: Breakfast and Brunch · desserts · food