Sunday, August 15, 2010


I recently got a new book in the mail called The Lost Art of Real Cooking: Rediscovering the Pleasures of Traditional Food One Recipe at a Time by Ken Albala and Rosanna Nafziger. Let me tell you, I have never actually read a cookbook from front to back before, but I devoured this book in just two days during a weekend camping trip. I couldn't wait to get home and try something from this collection, and so I made the first thing I could think of which I had all the ingredients for: tagliatelle, or in other words fresh pasta cut by hand. It doesn't get much simpler than flour, egg, salt, and water. I didn't even measure anything, the beauty of most of the instructions in this book is that you make things by instinct and feel, rather than precise measurements.

Basically, you just put some flour in a bowl (I used whole wheat flour), and an egg or two (depending on how eggy you want your pasta to be, or you could even omit the egg all together), a pinch of salt, and enough water to make a stiff dough that is not sticky. Start out by mixing it with a fork and adding the water a little at a time until you get the right consistency. Then turn the mixture out onto a floured wooden board or counter top and knead for five minutes. If time allows (if not, that's okay too), let the dough sit on the counter covered with the bowl for an hour.

When it's time for dinner, put a big pot of lightly salted water on the stove to boil, and in the meantime roll out the dough and cut it. You can roll it out however thick you like, and then with a sharp knife and using the rolling pin as a guide, cut out long strips of the dough. If you have a pizza cutter, it might come in handy. In my case, some of the strips stuck together, and I had to roll some of it out again. Perhaps I should have added a little more flour. I was worried that the dough would stick together when boiling, but miraculously none of them stuck together in the water.

I have to admit, I didn't have enough energy after the camping trip to make a trip to the store so I had to resort to using a jar of tomato sauce rather than the fresh tomato sauce they suggest in the book. After making fresh pasta, this felt sacrilege! But oh well, one thing at a time, right? The pasta itself was great, nothing like the dried noodles you buy in a box. I will definitely be adding this to my regular rotation.

Top with freshly shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano, and serve with salad and a glass of wine.

Julie, I can't recommend this book enough, and it seems like something that would be right up your alley. It really has inspired me to consider trying things I never thought I would try in a million years. Like rabbit stew, roasting a whole pig on a spit fire, koji, or miso (which takes 12 months to ferment!).

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Lost Time, and Time for LOST

Oh, Beth... where has the time gone lately? I've missed you. Truthfully, it has been very difficult lately to find any motivation for inspired cooking, much less the time to write about it, between caring for my mother-in-law (who is picky and difficult to please with food, especially when she's not feeling well - which is more and more often these days) and the recent discovery that Analisa is intolerant to dairy. We l-o-v-e dairy around here, especially cheese, so that's been a really challenging adjustment to make.

It's been so long since I've written anything here. Would a cute picture of one of my kids with one of her recent play-do concoctions help make up for it? Here's Analisa with what she calls "Volcano Cake":

The recipe: "Some collard greens, a little bit of chocolate, some spices (like pesto), noodles, and that's pretty much all." Uh... yum...?

I guess I have managed to cook a little over the past few months. I've certainly thought about sharing a recipe here every now and then, I just... haven't. Hmmm, let me think about what we've eaten around here lately that has turned out pretty good, and maybe you can tell me if you're interested in any of the recipes.

Let's see: Cake balls? The-most-amazing-ever red velvet cupcakes? A highly adaptable cheesy (or cheese-less) vegetable soup (courtesy of a recipe from my good friend Tamra)? Dr. Seuss's Pink Ink Yink Drink? Mexican chilaquiles? (MIL liked that one.) Sesame-almond crusted tilapia? Strawberry and radish green salad with a honey-balsamic dressing?

Let me know if anything sounds good and/or interesting; I'd be happy to share the recipe. I might even be able to dig up a crappy iPhone picture to go with it.

In the meantime: are you ready for tomorrow night's LOST series finale??? I'm just not ready to let go yet. "We have to go back!" I wish we were having a big party and that you and Daniel were here to join us; sadly, it will be just Oscar and me, while we send the kids upstairs to watch movies (I figure they don't need Smokie-fueled nightmares). Still, we plan to see the show go out in style, with great food to match the occasion. Our menu includes LOST inspired dishes, such as Locke's Smoked "Wild Boar" Tenderloin, and Sun's Garden Fresh Salad with a Mango-Coconut dressing. I don't have actual recipes yet; I'm just planning to figure it out on the fly, but if everything turns out yummy, I'll certainly share recipes. What about you? Are you hosting a LOST shindig? What are you having?

Saturday, April 17, 2010

We are still alive, promise.

Oh my gosh!

School has been way to crazy, I've been sick too much, I know Julie has been very busy, and it's been way too long since a post has been made. I have some rhubarb in my kitchen waiting for me to make something out of it, after I find my way out of all this end of semester school work...

Rhubarb recipe coming soon.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Cook Once, Eat All Week: My Turn

(Please forgive the poor quality of all the photos... I'm lazy and snapping pics with my phone instead of the real camera.)

So this week I took a page from the Book of Beth and am trying out the Cook Once, Eat All Week thing. So far I like it and plan to do it again for next week! I also enlisted the help of the kids, and they are already planning what they want to cook for next week.

I used your plan and recipes from your Part II post, with a few modifications. We did our cooking Monday afternoon, since I was returning from a weekend trip on Sunday. I think next time I should double the recipes, since I have (more than) twice as many people to feed as you do, but we are making it work this week with the shortened week and Oscar being busy with work-related dinners a couple of times this week.

Monday's dinner was the Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta, which everyone really enjoyed (except Oscar, as he had a fancy working dinner out at a restaurant that night and hasn't tried it yet). This recipe make quite a lot, so I plan to serve it again tomorrow night (Thursday). We also made the Spiced Cauliflower with Garlic recipe, but with the addition of carrots, since I had some and I needed to stretch the recipe to feed five people. You are right - it was sooooo good! It reminded me of curried vegetables, which my mother-in-law does not like, so I was surprised that she said she liked it. I did think it was sort of an odd pairing with the pasta, but it was still delicious!

On Tuesday, we ate the Smoky and Creamy Corn Soup. I added some smoked turkey sausage to the pot (again, to stretch it out for more people), which was tasty. It was a little spicy for the girls, so next time I might halve the chipotle powder, or even leave it out altogether. I ended up stirring in some light sour cream in an attempt to temper the heat, which didn't really work, but it still tasted yummy. The girls did a good job of eating it, even though it was too spicy for their taste buds. The adults all loved it, though. There was just enough left over for Oscar to take some for his lunch today.

Originally I had planned to serve these whole wheat muffins with the corn soup. The girls pretty much made these by themselves and did a great job! You can see from the picture at the top of this post that we sprinkled some mini-chocolate chips on top of half of them, but left the other half plain so they would still be sugar-free. They were really good, and we plan to make them again. However, I had to test out a bread recipe for the cooking class I co-teach for our Thursday homeschool co-op, and I decided at the last minute yesterday to make that to go with our soup dinner instead. I needed a bread that can be made in one hour (the length of our class time), and I found this recipe. Even though it's not as good as my favorite bread, it did turn out really well, and I'd make it again if I need bread in a hurry. We are definitely using the recipe for our cooking class this week, as well. The muffins we have been enjoying for breakfast and snacks, instead.

Tonight we will try the Mexican Style Rice Casserole. I actually made several modifications to this recipe (nothing drastic), based on ingredients I already had in the house. First, I used basmati rice instead of brown. Also, I substituted black beans for the refried beans in the bean-corn layer. Since I already had some fresh kale, we chopped and steamed it in the microwave and used that instead of the frozen greens called for in the original recipe. And finally, I used more cheese; that six tablespoons of shredded cheese in the first layer looked shockingly skimpy to me. More! Cheese! The girls are a bit more skeptical about trying this dish, since neither are big fans of either rice or kale. We'll see how it goes. I'll probably throw together a simple green salad to serve with it tonight, also.

I cooked too much rice for the casserole, and decided to use the extra in a rice pudding that we had for breakfast yesterday. I used this recipe, with cranberries instead of raisins. YUM! This is the best rice pudding I've ever made; I've made rice pudding (not this particular recipe) a few times before but have never been very excited about the result. This was great! The egg and butter make all the difference, I think.

Tomorrow night we'll eat the remaining pasta, and on Friday my mother-in-law will help cook fish (for Lent). And Saturday? I haven't figured that out yet...

So far, I like the way our week is going with this dinner plan, and I think we'll do it again for next week! I'm collecting some ideas in my head for the next week, like spaghetti (the kids love it) and maybe some beans. However, there are also a lot of good ideas out there on the interwebs, like this plan from Self magazine, that we might try, too. I also noticed the Weight Watchers website has a few more plans, also.

Are you still "cooking once, eating all week?" It takes some forethought and a bit of time once a week, but I'm convinced it's worth it - certainly it's better than scrambling every single busy day to get a healthy dinner on the table. It's allowed me a little more breathing time so far this week, which is invaluable!

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Cook Once, Eat All Week Part II

Welcome to another week of Cook Once, Eat All Week! This week took a bit more time in the kitchen than last week, but it was still convenient to have all the meals on hand for a week. I think it really helps to make dishes that have some similar ingredients in them because you can do all the prep work for multiple recipes, like chopping, at the same time.

The Spiced Cauliflower with Garlic was especially good. It could be turned into a hearty meal on its own just by adding some potatoes or rice and sausage.

Again, just make everything on Sunday afternoon, and you are all set until the following Sunday!


Smokey and Creamy Corn Soup
(Weight Watchers)

2 tsp olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
1 celery stalk, chopped
16 oz. frozen roasted corn kernels (or just regular frozen corn if you can't find the roasted kind)
4 cups vegetable broth
1/2 tsp chipotle chili powder (add more to taste)
salt to taste

  • Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and celery; cook, stirring frequently, until lightly browned, about 8 minutes.
  • Add corn, 1 cup of the broth, and the chili powder; bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, covered until all the vegetables are softened, about 3 minutes. Let the mixture cool about 5 minutes. Pour the mixture in batches into a food processor or blender and puree.
  • Return the mixture to the pan. Add the remaining 3 cups broth and cook, stirring occasionally, until heated through, about 10 minutes. If you would like the soup to be thicker, mix about 1/3 cup corn starch with a little soup and then slowly stir into the rest of the soup.
Green Chili Corn Bread Muffins
(Weight Watchers)

1 cup flour
3/4 cup yellow cornmeal
1 Tbs sugar
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt1 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup fat free buttermilk
2 large eggs
4.5 oz diced green chilies, drained
3 Tbs unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup reduced fat cheddar cheese

  • Preheat oven to 425F. Spray 12 muffin cups with nonstick spray
  • Combine flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, cumin and baking soda in medium bowl. Combine the buttermilk, eggs, chilies and melted butter in another medium bowl. Add the buttermilk mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until blended. Gently stir in cheese. With a spoon, evenly distribute the mixture into the 12 muffin tins.
  • Bake until the edges are golden brown and have pulled away from the sides, 20-22 minutes.

Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta

and Spiced Cauliflower with Garlic (soo good!)
(Weight Watchers)

1 Tbs canola oil
1 onion, chopped
3 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp ground cumin
2/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/8 tsp cayenne
1 head cauliflower, cut into 1 inch florets
1 1/2 cups water
2 tsp sherry vinegar

  • Heat oil in a Dutch oven over medium high heat. Add onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, 4-5 minutes. Add the garlic, cumin, salt, turmeric, and cayenne; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the cauliflower until coated with the spice mixture. Stir in the water and vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the cauliflower is tender and most of the liquid has evaporated

Mexican Style Brown Rice Casserole


Finish Creamy and Smokey Corn Soup and Green Chili Corn Bread Muffins


Finish Italian Sausage and Pepper Pasta and Spiced Cauliflower with Garlic


Finish Mexican Style Brown Rice Casserole


Whatever is left over

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Cook Once, Eat All Week

I started an experiment on myself. See, I am on this "self-care" kick- something that is strongly encouraged in the grad program I am in right now. The program requires a lot of self introspection and contemplation of human nature and how all the pieces fit together that make up the whole of this crazy, complicated, ugly and beautiful world. I am finding it takes a lot of emotional stamina, leaving little energy left over for other things.

Last semester I ate poorly, slept too little, stressed too much, and didn't exercise. Don't get me wrong, I love what I am doing right now and I am learning so much. Among many things, it is teaching me about balance. I must have gotten a little too self-assured, because I had really thought that by this time in my life I would have already figured out how to take care of myself. I had thought that I wouldn't really need to work on it as much as my professors kept repeating, especially given that I am slightly older than most of the other students in the program (and of course, light years more mature, ha ha).When I had a few weeks off during winter break and actually took the time to take better care of myself, I really noticed a difference.

Last week was my first week back at school and I decided to try something different since I knew that one of my problems was that I often get home too late or too tired to make anything even remotely resembling a healthy and well balanced dinner. I had heard about this thing that some people do, called Cook Once, Eat All Week. Okay, maybe I am late on the bandwagon on this one, but I really thought this was a brilliant idea. No longer would I have to spend precious time cooking every evening, no longer would I have a kitchen constantly full of dirty dishes, and no longer would I be as tempted to make poor food choices based on the lack of time and convenience. I can just pop whatever is on the menu that night in the microwave or oven.

For my first try, I used a Weight Watchers planned menu because it told me exactly what to make and exactly how to use the left overs to make something new out of it and on which night to eat what. Here is what the menu looked like:

Vegetable Peanut Stir Fry

Layered Mexican Chicken and Green Beans with Caramelized Onions on the side

Finish Stir Fry

Green Bean, Pearl Onion and Dill Frittata (made with the left over beans)

Tri Colored Pesto Rotini
with some baby carrots on the side

Left over Layered Mexican Chicken, with some simple steamed veggies (like broccoli) on the side

Whatever you have left over (we had a ton of the pasta left)

All of the recipes turned out quite good, and they are all really healthy. If you want to add a little more protein, you could always add some shrimp, chicken or tofu to the pasta and stir fry, and maybe some Canadian bacon to the frittata. Or, you could just as easily modify these recipes to be vegetarian or vegan (some already are). All this food was just for Daniel and I so we had plenty left over to take for lunch, but I would say that this menu would easily feed four people dinner for a week.

Julie, if you are feeling crunched for time I would really recommend giving this a try. All it takes is a couple of hours cooking time on Sunday afternoon, and you don't have to think about what to have for dinner again for the rest of the week. I found that it also really helped focus my grocery shopping list, so that I did not spend as much time shopping or getting things that I know are not good for me because of not knowing what to get. If you want to read their specific directions for the week, click here.

Also, it cut down on the amount of meat required so that I was able to spend my money on the best organic, free range, and local meat available instead of buying a bunch of meat that you know comes from an unhealthy meat processing plant.

All around this experiment turned out successfully. This week, I am going to try and put together my own menu and see how that works out. In fact, I am going off to the kitchen after I finish writing this!

Julie- have you tried this method of cooking before? I would love to hear any advice you might have, or any recipes that you think would work well for this.

P.S.- The pictures in this post belong to Weight Watchers, I did not have the opportunity to take my own pictures this week.


blogger templates | Make Money Online