Saturday, October 31, 2009

Spinach Pie

I too made the spinach pie this weekend.  My husband and I were planning a meal for my mother in law, and my husband asked me to come up with a side item to go with the rest of the meal.  He was making steak au poive and herb crusted rack of lamb with a mushroom and cognac beef reduction (something like that), roasted fingerling potatoes, and roasted tomatoes.  I thought the meal sounded slightly greek (I guess because of the lamb), so I thought the spinach pie would be a good fit, since it seems a lot like spanikopita to me (a greek dish with spinach in it). 

The recipe was pretty simple, but did have a fair amount of preparation work.  I know it's been said before, but make sure you defrost your philo dough before you're ready to make this.  I'd also recommend defrosting your spinach at least a few hours ahead of time.  This should save you some hassle when you're ready to really start making the pie. 

I didn't have a problem with the salt content, but I think that's because I deliberately cut the salt amount by about 1/3, and I was also a little short on the feta cheese, which has a lot of salt in it.  Also, as others have said, the philo does not cover over the top of the pie, so you'll have to add a few sheets on the top to cover it.  I added about three sheets, doubled over the top, and it did the trick. 

Here is is just out of the oven- very pretty!


The pie went over very well at dinner, although I must confess the other items on the table were so wonderful, I think a little of the pie's thunder might have been stolen. I guess that's the price I pay for having a great chef for a husband. I will willingly pay it!

This recipe is a definite keeper. It's delicious and unique, and looks so pretty on the table.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Spinach Pie

This spinach pie was easier to make than I thought it would be, and it made me feel like some sort of pastry chef! I made the full recipe as stated, and you might not be able to tell from this pic, but my phyllo dough didn't at all come close to covering the top of the pie. I ended up laying two more sheets, buttered and folded in half, on top and it came out quite nicely.

I really loved this spinach pie, and didn't have any problems with too much spinach taste (but we really like spinach over here). The pine nuts made it interesting, and usually I love them, but I didn't think the recipe would lack if you left them out. I thankfully only used half the butter the recipe called for. The only real problem with my pie was the saltiness. The recipe called for 2 teaspoons, and I was careful. I probably used a scant 2 tsp, and it was still pretty salty. Maybe if you add the eggs and salt last, or added less salt initially, you could taste the mix for salt as you add it. I will make this again, probably for company, not just for regular dinner. My sons loved it, except my 3 year old complained that he didn't like the dough part. Not like butter covered pastry? Give it time, kid.

I have a theory though: recently, I ran out of my kosher salt, which was Morton brand, and bought some off-brand Kroger kosher salt. Since then, my recipes have been on the salty side, and even my husband has used it and complained it tasted saltier... is it possible for one salt to be saltier than another? From what I remember, I think my Morton kosher salt was cleaner; this Kroger salt is dusty, and my guess is it adds more salt when I measure the same teaspoon. So my recommendation, if your recipes are too salty, is to go try some different salt. Or just use less.

Pecan Shortbread

I made these cookies last night.  I went ahead and made a full recipe, knowing that I could give some to Daniel and Haylee with their dinner, and also take some to my mother in law when we saw her this weekend.  The full recipe made about 3 platefuls of cookies like the one pictured below.  I followed the recipe exactly, trying to ignore the amount of butter I was adding.  These were easy to make and delicious (could it be the butter?).  If I get the gumption to do some mass baking around Christmas time, I think these would be a great candidate for cookies to make in mass and give away as gifts/treats. 

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

I made these potatoes last night.  We are taking dinner to the Daniel and Haylee, who just had baby Isaiah join the family, and I thought this would make a good side item to go with meatloaf (from another cookbook) and roasted carrots (Ina's own).  I made 2/3 of a recipe, and it made a lot of potatoes.  If you're just cooking for 2, I recommend halving the recipe.  I used light sour cream, but other than that, followed the recipe exactly.  The potatoes ended up a little runnier than what I'm used to, but that could have been due to my questionable measuring skills.  The taste was wonderful.  I'll be making them again.  Sorry, I don't have a  picture!  By the time I remembered to take one, they were already out the door. 

Sun-Dried Tomato Dip

I made a double batch of this dip so I could be sure we'd have enough to feed our small group friends on Wednesday night.  We served it with a variety of raw vegetables, including asparagus, squash, carrots, and sliced bell peppers, and also chips and crackers.  Overall, it was a hit with the group.  Of course, if you're not one who gets too excited about things with a tomato flavor, then this might not be the dip for you, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  Our small group devoured probably just a little more than 1 full recipe, so I had enough left over to take to my in-laws as an appetizer for a birthday dinner Friday night. 

On my husband's suggestion, I did add a little extra tabasco sauce to the recipe, and I liked the extra kick that it gave the dip.  I also used reduced fat mayo, sour cream, and cream cheese, and didn't notice any deficit in flavor or taste.  My waist thanks you for the tip on that, Lou Ann.  This recipe was extremely easy and very tasty.  I especially like that it can be made ahead of time.  This will be a recipe I'll definitely be making again.

Thursday, October 29, 2009


I meant to take a picture before I brought all these delicious brownies to school with me, but then I decided that the empty pans were evidence enough of how amazing they were. It made two 9x13 pans of rich, chewy, scrumptious, chocolatey brownies. I gave them to my fellow 3rd grade teachers, the 2nd grade teachers and then still had some left for James and I.

Monday, October 26, 2009

Maple Oatmeal Scones - HELP

I made the maple oatmeal scones last week. I halved the recipe, everything but the sugar which I kept at the full amount of 2 tablespoons. Since the glaze is so sweet they were plenty sweet enough for me and mine. However, did anyone else have very wet dough? Luckily I made the dough the night before and tried to cut it into circles but it was so sticky and runny that it was pretty much impossible. I left it in a big disc shape and put it in the fridge overnight. The next morning I just scored it into wedges and baked it like that. The taste was really good but they weren't as pretty as pre-cut circles or triangles. Any thoughts, comments, suggestions?

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Chocolate Pecan Squares

I've spent the week baking. I think I've made the Maple Oatmeal Scones about 4 times for various Bible Studies and breakfast type meetings. They have been a hit every time and I've always saved a few out for us at home.

Last night I had a great night getting together with a few girl friends for a pot luck dinner. I had been dying to make the Pecan Squares since our last dinner party. I ended up making a half recipe and using a 9x13 pyrex dish to make them. A few mishaps happened. Mishap #1 the oven was on 450 instead of 350 for the first 8 minutes of baking the pecan mix on top of the shortbread. It didn't seem to mess with the outcome. Mishap #2 I still used a whole teaspoon of the lemon and orange zest b/c I forgot to half it. Mishap #3 I dumped an entire bag of Nestle Tollhouse morsels on top. I know, you're thinking how could this be a mishap. Well, it wasn't a total mishap. It was just a little too much chocolate. I recommend a whole bag for a whole recipe. Also, I had to leave and cut the squares before the chocolate had time to completely cool so it was a little messy and they didn't turn out as pretty as they could have with proper cooling.

All in all, two thumbs up. I will definitely make this again. It was easy, taste great and I did like the chocolate on top. All of the girls enjoyed them and even with baking half a recipe we had enough for home and for the Roller's! Congrats to Chad, Karen and Kate, baby Barrett is a sweetheart!

Ina All Day, All the Way

JANICE AND INA~I literally spent a full day Saturday with Ina in the kitchen --cooked up 6 recipes! We had plans to have my sister-in-law and brother-in-law over for his birthday, so that seemed like a good time to put Ina to the test--and it would be good to get ahead of this cooking pressure! (Is anyone else feeling it?)
I made the Roasted Vegetable Torte on Friday night, as it needed to hang out in the fridge for a day. This is one recipe that Ina did not describe very well with her instructions. She tells you to put this in a 6-inch cake pan, which is pretty small, and which I didn't have--but did have a 7 1/2 inch souffle dish that I used. My dish was tall, so I put saran wrap loosely over the dish, then weighed it down as instructed. The next day the dish was full with liquid--just covering the stack of vegetables, and I drained it off. Ina did not say how to get the torte OUT of the I very hesitatingly turned it upside down over a plate, and thankfully it all stayed together. Mine was not quite as pretty as the book, but it came very close! And, it was not only cute, but very tasty. The whole dinner party liked it room temperature as Ina said, though my husband thought hot might be better, so he stuck his portion in the microwave. It was good, but I thought heating it kind of defeats the purpose of it being your "cold salad" as a temperate taste difference.... My guests were very impressed with this dish. I will make this one again. (It also sliced up very nicely.)

My main dish was the Perfect Roast Chicken. I have a roasting rack, so I used that to hold my chicken above the drippings. I only used half a lemon, quartered, and half a head of garlic--just because I thought that was plenty. I did use a lot of thyme branches to stuff inside, just because I have lots of it growing in my garden. I lowered the oven to 400 after 30 min. as I got worried it was browning too fast--and eventually, I put a tent of foil over it. It definitely takes the full 1 1/2 hours to cook. The chicken was very delicate tasting and tender. I made the gravy too, which was wonderful on it. (Also, after carving it, I saved the chicken carcus in a plastic bag, and used it the next day to boil it and make some wonderful homemade chicken broth.)

I also made the potato-fennel gratin, with the fennel Julia brought me from Houston. The Gruyere was expensive (about 16.95/lb. I think!) but with half a recipe, I only needed 1/4 lb, so just around $4. I thought it a wonderful cheese, even for snacking (except for the expense!). After tasting it though, I think you could make a substitution with half Parmesan and half Swiss cheese to come reasonably close to the taste. I could not handle all the cream in this recipe...(plus, it seemed mean to do that to my relatives who watch their diet pretty closely!) so for the 1 cup of heavy cream, I used 1/2 cup chicken broth, 1/4 cup half-and half, and 1/4 cup heavy cream. I don't know what the fully leaded version tastes like--but we defiantly did not feel we were eating low fat even with this concoction for the liquids! The potatoes were creamy and delicious!

For the bread for our meal, I made the Cheddar-dill scones that morning, then heated them up for dinner. I didn't have fresh dill, so used 1 T dried dill, plus a teaspoon or so of a dried herb mix. The scones had a lot of flavor. I forgot the diced cheese till I almost had them rolled out, so I added my cheese chunks (probably cut a little too big) to the dough and tried to barely work it in. The cheese melted out a lot because of that I guess...but after I cleaned up the edges they made a nice presentation and suited the meal well. (The next day, we tried some hot pepper jelly with the leftover scones, and it was a perfect fit--really good!) Unfortunately, my relatives had noticed a trend in Ina cooking...and asked how much butter was in the scones...and even though I actually did cut back on the butter some, I didn't have the heart to tell them how much butter they were eating!

My brother-in-law commented that all the foods went very well together. He said he had had several birthday meals over the week, but this one was his favorite. That made me feel it was worth my long day in the kitchen.

But then it was time for desert: the classic peach and raspberry crisp. I made it as directed, except also added a handful of frozen blueberries because I have a bunch of them in my freezer from blueberry picking this summer. My peaches and raspberries were frozen too, so it took the crisp longer to cook than what Ina said. To top off the crisp, I made the orange yogurt (not wanting to add ice cream or whip cream out of deference to my guest's diets--of which my sister-in-law thanked me for!) I will tell you about the orange yogurt, plus one more dish I made in another post, as this one is getting too long!

Two hours after dinner, my sister-in-law said she was even more full than after she ate--she thinks all that butter gives a person a "food baby" and keeps you full a very long time!

Friday, October 23, 2009

Mealtime Mishap: Turkey Meatloaf and Parmesan Smashed Potatoes

My awesome hubby (who does the grocery shopping) accidentally picked up ground chicken instead of ground I had to roll with it! First off, I nearly gagged when I was mixing everything up...there is just something weird to me about ground up poultry. I thought this chicken meatloaf was disgusting and hubby said it was just ok. I learned tonight that I have an issue with the texture of ground chicken. To be honest, I think I would have had the same issue with ground turkey.

I also made the parmesan smashed potatoes and they were delicious! However, it wasn't enough to save the meal. Rhett is out getting us Quiznos right now! :o)

Fingerling Potatoes

Found the fingerling potatoes at the farmers market so decided to try them! Very easy recipe - not much to it and they tasted like...potatoes. They were cute and looked good on the plate but otherwise they were just potatoes!

Cranberry Scones

No school today for my middle schooler so she had a friend sleep over and we had a tea party for breakfast. Made the strawberry scones with craisins instead of dried strawberries and only made half the recipe. They were yummy - light and fluffy and buttery. Half recipe made a tray full although I cut them smaller than she suggested and I may have rolled them out a little flatter. Served them with strawberry jam and whipped cream like they do in England! Girls loved them! and I thought they were really good as well!!

The Disappearing Orange Yogurt

This yogurt was wonderful! It went so fast, I already wish I had more. If you like your yogurt really sweet, you may think this is a little too un-sweet. But I usually buy plain yogurt anyway, so my kids thought they were having dessert! It really had a wonderful citrus flavor. I don't know if the draining of the yogurt was really that important. I left my overnight and got maybe 1 1/2 tablespoons of liquid drained out. I only added 1/4 cup orange juice, so it would stay thick, and it still had plenty of flavor. Instead of honey I used Agave Nectar. It is a lighter version of honey and better for you. We use it instead of honey on most everything. See the picture below.
Here is Evelyn eating her third bowl for breakfast! The girls and I ate the whole quart in 1 day!
I just added the raisins and nuts on top of mine instead of mixing them in.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Roasted-Tomato Basil Soup & Parmesan Croutons

We love the tomato basil soup from La Madeleine so I was excited to try to make some myself. I followed the recipe exactly with the exception of cutting it in half...I'm only cooking for two so half the recipe was plenty enough. This recipe calls for red pepper flakes, which surprised me, and we actually thought it had too much kick...even my husband who's from Louisiana and likes everything spicy! Since there is also black pepper, it just turned out to be a little too peppery (sp?). This is saying a lot because I love pepper and will put it on most anything! Other than that, it was very tasty! Next time I make it, I will probably leave out the red pepper flakes all together and wait until the end to add the black pepper to taste. (and yes, I did double check to make sure that I used HALF of both the red pepper flakes and the black that is not why it was over-peppered!)

Edited: I forgot to mention that instead of using a food mill like Ina says (don't have one or even know what that is...), I used the blender to mix it all up. We don't have a large enough food processor, but if you do you could use that.

The parmesan croutons caught my eye and I thought they'd go perfectly with this soup, so I made those as well...delicious!!! (except I did put too much salt on my first batch - learned my lesson there. Ina said to "sprinkle liberally"...well I was a little too liberal with my sprinkling!) I made them again tonight (because they are sooooooo good!!) and used less salt but added garlic powder. They were even better with the garlic powder. I think these would make a tasty appetizer as well.

We always eat tomato basil soup with grilled chicken caesar salad. I broke up the parmesan croutons and put them in my salad, too...mmm!

Chocolate Buttercream Cake & Icing

As the title implies, this recipe kept up with the theme of this cookbook: lots of butter. This recipe has so much butter in it. While I didn’t alter the amount of butter, I did use low fat buttermilk and sour cream in the cake and omitted the brewed coffee. Like Julie, for the icing I used 18 oz of semisweet chocolate chips and omitted the rum and espresso powder (what section of the grocery store is espresso powder in?!).
Chocolate Buttercream Cake & Buttercream Icing (page 194-196)

Turkey Meat Loaf

I took the advice from others and cut the recipe in half. Even the half-sized loaf was quite large especially for only two people. After the loaf had been in the oven for about an hour, I took a peak at it and noticed some…..I guess I will call it “goo,” around the edges of the loaf. At this point I went through the ingredients to make sure that I had included everything. Since I had included everything, I rushed to the blog to see what others had said about it; I guess that is the point of the blog, right?! I read that Julia had the same experience so I felt better about that. So even though I had purchased the leanest ground turkey from the butcher, it still had a little nastiness around the loaf. All-in-all, the meatloaf was ok; it wasn’t horrible, but it was probably the blandest version of meatloaf that I have ever tried. Because it looked a bit nasty I only took a picture of the final product.
Turkey meatloaf with corn and salad (page 138)

Grilled Lemon Chicken Salad pg99

This was the 2nd time I have made the lemon was just as good as the first time, and I even used bottled lemon juice and only marinated it for 2 hours this go round. I used a grill pan inside this time instead of an outdoor grill. I had trouble getting them to cook through, so I ended up slicing the chicken breasts and putting them back on the grill pan to finish cooking though.

As you can tell, I added a bit more to the salads to make them more substantial than just the bell pepper and sugar snap peas that Ina used. It made it more of an entree than a side salad. I really do love this chicken. YUM!

Adorable Mini Coconut Cupcakes!

I used my mini muffin tin for the coconut cupcakes....SO CUTE! They were like bite-size cakes! You get more icing per bite when they are little too. This was for my Sister in Law Cathy's birthday party. I made these in advance and froze them without icing, then iced them while they were frozen, so they were nice and firm for all the handling they went through. They baked very fast too since they were so small.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Curried Couscous & Hummus

In addition to the pecan squares, I made the Curried Couscous and Hummus to bring to our small group last Wednesday night.  The Curried Couscous was very simple to make, and delicious.  It is definitely a keeper recipe.  My husband loved it!  I substituted dried cranberries for Ina's suggested dried currants, since I have no idea where to find those, and it worked well.  Wyatt (my husband) did suggest to toast the almonds next time before adding them to the Couscous, and I agree.  I think this would allow you to get more of the almond taste into the mix, which for me would definitely be a good thing.  Otherwise, it was a perfect recipe!

The hummus was also really good and another simple recipe.  We Smiths like our hummus, so we've made plenty of our own batches over the years (9/10 were made by my husband using a recipe that's only in his head).  Ina's hummus was tasty, but I think I still like Wyatt's (husband's) version better.  Wyatt's has cannellini beans (pretty sure that's what they're called) in addition to garbanzo beans/chickpeas, and also has olive oil.  I think there are a few other differences, but not having an actual written recipe to compare to, it's hard to know for sure.  Ina's recipe was tasty, though, and it will come in handy when I can't obtain the elusive Smith family hummus recipe from my husband's brain. 

Curried Couscous


The spread at our small group meeting. 
That's tzatziki sauce at the front, which was also quite yummy.

Pecan Squares

I made the pecan squares last week and brought them to our Wednesday night bible study group.  The recipe was pretty simple, but it did have a lot of ingredients and a number of steps, not to mention a LOT of butter.  I think it required 7 sticks of butter for the whole recipe.  I'm sure the butter amount could be decreased, but since I generally don't know what I'm doing when I'm cooking, I thought I'd follow the recipe completely on the first try. 
I made a full recipe of these, and as I think someone has already said, it makes a LOT of bars.  I had enough to bring to our small group, my work, my parents and my brother, and my mom even brought some up to my dad's cardiology office (just a little ironic to be bringing the 7 sticks of butter bars up to the heart doctor's office).  Even then, we had leftovers!  So, be prepared to do a lot of giving away if you plan to make a full recipe of these and desire not to gain about 15 pounds. 

One other note.  Ina says to bake these in a really large size dish.  I can't remember the exact size she says, but it was definitely larger than the typical 9 x 13 (is that the typical size, or am I thinking about paper?).  I didn't have this size, so I just did my best to cram the whole recipe into the pan I did have.  I don't reccomend this.  Although my bars ended up being really tasty, they also ended up being very crusty.  They had a very tall layer of crust at the bottom.  If I make a full recipe the next time I make these, I'll definitely be dividing the recipe between 2 dishes. 

Here's the finished product...  They were very tasty and quite a treat. 

Brownie Mishap!

So, I made the so called Outrageous Brownies, and as they were in the oven, which took a while to get them there, since there were many steps to the recipe, I took my time cleaning up the kitchen. As I got to the last pile of dishes on the counter I came across a bowl of flour...hmm...that is right, it appears I was trying to make flour-less brownies! The brownies had been in the oven about 15 minutes, so I yanked them out and stirred the flour in..right there in the pan! What a mess! I took a picture just to show you the mess it was...flour and half cooked brownies mixed together. Then back in the oven they went for the remainder of the baking time.

Over all the had a pretty good taste, but a really odd gritty, squishy texture! (of course I take credit for the texture)
I think I will probably try these again sometime, but first I have to eat the pan of brownies that I just put in my freezer. I made a half batch (thank goodness!!) and it fit perfectly in a 9x13 pan. I forgot to take a picture of the finished product, oh, well, they weren't too impressive anyway! Maybe next time.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Roasted Carrot Confession...

They look ok, right?

I said it at the dinner party last Saturday night, and I was telling the truth.  I am not a natural cook.  My main impetus for joining in the Barefoot Contessa fun was to get better at cooking, since my husband is ridiculously good at it and I want to be able to cook at least maybe half as good for him as he does for me.  I have a long way to go, because remember, this thing doesn't come natural to me.  When I was a kid my mom told me to butter the bottom of the pan, and I did just that.  I turned the pan upside down and buttered the underside of it.  I was very proud of myself; I was very thorough in my buttering. 

They say history repeats itself, and well, it kind of did last weekend.  No, I didn't butter the bottom of the pan again.  Here is what I did do.

I volunteered to bring the roasted carrots to the Barefoot Contessa dinner party two Saturday nights ago.  Everyone had raved about how good the recipe was, and how simple it was to put together.  They were right; it is simple, but it sure did take me a long time to peel and cut up all those carrots.  I was making a double recipe, so that was some of the reason why it took me so long, but it was still fairly tedious.  If you're short on time, you might try using frozen carrots instead.  I was able to get everything done just barely in time, but they looked pretty.  I didn't have much of a chance to taste them after they came out of the oven, because I had to hurry and leave for the party. 

The carrots made it to the party and seemed to make a fairly good showing for themselves. 

Fast forward to Monday evening, two nights after the dinner party.  My husband and I are making greek food for dinner.  I tell him we don't need to buy flat leaf parsley because I still had some left over from the roasted carrots recipe.  We get home that night and he pulls out the remainder of the parsley.  He looks over at me and says "Amy, that isn't parsley.  It's cilantro." 

Oh wow...that means I just served a dish of roasted carrots covered in cilantro to a whole bunch of ladies at a dinner party.  Some of them I'd never even met before.  Wow.  Whoops!  Guess it pays to smell the "parsley" before buying it rather than just assuming that the veggie is what the label says it is. 

I wondered why I wasn't as impressed with the carrots as everyone else had seemed to be in their own blog posts about them...guess the cilantro explains it!  Sorry to anyone who had the carrots and was a little confused.  I promise the next dish I bring to one of our dinner parties will be certified cilantro free (CCF).  Now everyone understands why it is very important that I continue to try to learn how to cook.  I do stuff like this all the time...just usually not when I'm cooking for a large group of people at a dinner party!

Banana Crunch Muffins

These banana crunch muffins, though lacking in crunch, turned out great for us! After a few alterations I ended up with more like a breakfast muffin than dessert (which was the goal, after hearing some of the previous reviews). I used some granola I had made a while back, and it didn't have any of the big pieces that hers does. Plus, I coarse ground the walnuts since my 1 1/2 year old spits out anything bigger, so that's why they weren't crunchy (I assume). Here is my 1/2 pound of butter...

And I think the butter was the reason these were so good... I hadn't made a full-fat muffin in so long I forgot what I was missing! Since I knew the kids would be eating the majority of these, I used half all-purpose & half whole wheat flour and decreased the sugar from 2 cups to 1-1/4 cups, which was perfect since my ripe bananas and granola were also sweet. I did use unsweetened coconut in the mix, and topped them with that as well. Despite the face, they were a great after-naptime snack! I swear that kid is like Calvin, I can't get a decent shot of him for the life of me!

Monday, October 19, 2009

Lime Curd Tart

Great minds must think alike because I (with the help of my mom) made this Thursday night as well. However, I'm not sure we made the same dish:)

My mom was here for a week helping with and playing with her new and first grandbaby! And I was getting antsy to cook something from the cookbook as I like to cook and feel like I'm so behind. So with my moms help I thought we'd attempt the lime tart.

The problems Carissa had were not our problems at all. She stated she had crumbly dough we had a gloppy sticky mess. We even used about 1/2c more flour to try to thicken it but that didn't help much. I used my hands and just tried to smooth it in the pan....which did work but very messy! My mom suggested next time to maybe only use 2 sticks of butter rather than the 3...
Also, ours was very limey! But I did do the lime zest in the food processor and left it in the mix so maybe that makes a difference...??

We didn't have a thermometer so we just kept stirring and stirring....30 minutes later it was at the thickenss we thought it should be!

All in all it was good....I think I'd do lemon next time just preference.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Parmesan Smashed Potatoes and Grilled Veges

Over Labor Day weekend, Grace and I cooked dinner for our husbands. We cooked two of the recipes from the vegetables section, the parmesan smashed potatoes and the grilled vegetables, and served it with steaks for the guys and salmon for the girls. These are fool-proof recipes that are easy and fun to make with friends. For the vegetables we used squash, zucchini, portabella mushrooms, and asparagus and for the potatoes we simply omitted some of the more fattening ingredients like the butter and half-and-half.
Grace and Darby’s Grilled Veges (page 166)
and Parmesan Smashed Potatoes (page 158)

Crab Cakes and Remoulade Sauce

This is another recipe that I made a while ago…but I purposefully didn’t post because I was so embarrassed at how poorly they turned out. Because I read that someone else had similar issues with frying the cakes I thought that I would post this. There were a lot of ingredients but nothing that was difficult to prepare. I think what got me was the frying; the cakes kept falling apart. If I made them larger they fell apart and if I made them smaller they burned. I think I need to find a happy medium size, light a strong candle, and practice!
Crab Cakes and Remoulade Sauce (page 44)

Fresh Lemonade

I made this for our Wednesday night bible study a few weeks ago and forgot to post on it. Until now, I have never been successful at making lemonade, but this was so tasty. For those who try this recipe, adhere to the directions and use extra fine sugar so the lemonade isn’t gritty. Also go ahead and double the recipe because you will want several glasses :-)
Fresh Lemonade (page 32)

Friday, October 16, 2009

Random Ina Janice and Julia

My daughter-in-law, Julia, and 2 sweetie-pie grandsons were visiting me for a few days, so Julia and I cooked an Ina meal--though it was kind of an uncoordinated meal, as we got to the grocery store without a list..we were just trying to remember enough for any recipe! Julia had brought me some fennel from Houston, but we couldn't remember all the ingredients for any fennel recipe, so we just bought random stuff for random dishes!

We wound up fixing the Cheddar Corn Chowder, though I didn't have the bacon, however I did have some bacon grease. (My son, Ben, tells me only old people have bacon grease sitting around in their fridge--I use it for breakfast gravy. ) I added rotisserie chicken to the soup, just to make it more hearty for our dinner. I steam/blanched the corn, which turned out easier than boiling I thought. But in the end, I think I would have been fine with frozen corn. The fresh corn makes the soup really sweet I thought, and I am not sure how much I like sweet soup...

But the chowder was ok--no real problem with it. My husband David's comment was it is good, but nothing to write home about. When I questioned what that meant, he said, "Well, I wouldn't break a leg to get to the table to eat it, but it is ok." So I guess it was just so-so for us!

With the chowder, Julia and I tried slightly steaming the sugar snap peas, on Carissa's suggestion. And because I did not have the sesame oil and seeds, I just added some "good" olive oil and fresh cracked black pepper. They were good--might add a nice addition to a plate of food that needs some color and a little interesting spark of taste...(probably a strange side for soup though, except it gave the grandsons the required green vegetable for dinner!)

I bought one baby pumpkin for my grandson, Gabriel, to eat out of--and we made the curry couscous to put in the pumpkin. Julia did a wonderful job of perfectly dicing all the loose veggies from the fridge into the dish. The last time I made this dish, I thought I might cut the oil in half, from 4 T to 2 T--and I tried this. I think I will up it next time to 3 T, and that will be perfect. We love this dish. Hubby loves it too!! However, little Gabey did not like it in the roasted pumpkin, and we had to take the couscous out for him to eat it. He did just get up from a nap and was a little grumpy...but he seemed to think the pumpkin with food in it was very weird--unlike his cousin, Evelyn, who loved food in her pumpkin!

Julia and I did make the applesauce the day before, and had it at every meal while Julia and the boys were here, and we all love it. I like the idea that it will last for weeks in the fridge. It was great on pancakes yesterday! Sorry, I didn't get a pic of that.

Well, that is all our Ina cooking for this week.