Saturday, April 30, 2011

For Snacking

What is this?

Dino skin? That would be cool, but no.

Gross brain from an unknown creature. That would just be gross and no.

It's kale. Dino kale. Tuscan kale or Lacinato kale.

It's really great to add to soup or pasta. To saute or braise. (don't I always say things like that?)

It can also make for great snacking. Yes. Snacking. Trust me.

Rinse the kale and dry well. A salad spinner helps with this. Be sure it's nice and dry before you proceed. Cut the spines out by running a paring knife parallel to the stem. Discard the stems and cut the leaves into pieces. Say, merely as a point of reference, potato chip-sized pieces.

Toss well with olive oil carefully lightly coat each leaf.

Dust with kosher salt and toss well again before placing the leaves evenly on sheet pans.

Place in a pre-heated 375 degree oven for 15 minutes, rotating pans front to back and top to bottom half way through the cooking time.


A super healthy, crispy, salty snack you can grow in your back yard, pick up at a farmer's market or buy organically - cheap. A lemony Greek yogurt dip is a nice addition and they really do hold up when dipped. I think dip helps the little ones with some vegetables and though it would be nice to say it's a sure fire way to get the bag of chips out of their hands.....I am not a spin doctor.

It is, however, an interesting way to introduce new a vegetable to kids. Though they may not eat them now, eventually they will and until then the bag is all yours.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Again with the Quinoa

I've written before about my love for quinoa. It's a wonderfully healthful ingredient (technically a seed) that is incredibly adaptable. Add to soups, bake into muffins or make a really tasty salad.

I didn't anticipate documenting this as a recipe so the pictures are lacking a bit. This was part of the meal we all made together but is worth a spotlight of its own. Pictures which illicit drool or not I will forge ahead.

There are several varieties but I've only cooked the red and white. The red is more nutritious. Colorful Food = Good For You Food.

Caramelized onions make for a delicious layer of flavor.

Celery and fennel. Add and stir.

Next Ella added the apples, walnuts, dried cranberries and Gouda.

Finish with a light vinaigrette and arugula (my favorite) and it's ready to serve. Packed with super nutritious stuff and delicious

You really must try this and since it's rather lengthy I will provide the link. It's from my favorite food magazine. - Fine Cooking. Read more about my some of my other favorite FC recipes here, here and here.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Cooking A Family Dinner

A while back I decided it would be a good night for everyone to participate in the making of dinner. A simple pretzel chicken from Fine Cooking was on the menu.

It was the perfect recipe since it required much dipping and dredging. Everyone was getting their hands dirty - except Jake. He has a clean hands phobe. My fault - first born.

Ella got the super slimy job of egg dipping. Can we talk about that beautiful egg color? Jake is so supportive and his hands are so...clean.

There were multiple jobs for everyone. Here Jake is giving Henry a hand with his stirring technique. What a comedian.

There was also a quinoa salad that I'll share at a later date. That recipe offered my larger children an opportunity to work on their knife skills. They are old enough to handle a knife and I'd rather they know the right way.

Max measures and Ella stirs.

Even Jake (eventually) got his hands dirty chopping chives.

Everyone even got a chance to cook the chicken. I've always believed that teaching them the right way and not encouraging them to be afraid is the safest way in the kitchen. I also know someday they won't starve or shrivel up due to Ramen Noodle sodium counts.

The point of this whole thing? How great it is to cook as a family. We had lots of laughs and though it wasn't our favorite pretzel chicken it was really great to be together in the kitchen. We seem to spend a lot of time there even as everyone grows older. It's a comfy place to be and there is no hook better than food.

I recently wrote an essay inspired by our kitchen time. I'd like for you to read it - if you're interested.

What I'd really like is for you to make something in the kitchen with your family.


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Lovely Radish

A few weeks ago while at the Green City Market I found these beautiful French Breakfast Radishes. A bunch of these is as beautiful as bouquet of flowers - but edible.

I'd like to say I love radishes. In my heart I do, but when I taste them, ehhhh - not so much. Though this type of radish is very mild there is still a chest warming heat I just don't care for. So, I thought I'd cook them.

Chicken stock, shallots and a bit of butter. Cook till tender and remove from the saucepan. If the braising liquid left is more than about a 1/2 cup, cook to reduce it. Finish with a splash of vinegar, I used sherry, and season with salt and pepper.


Monday, April 25, 2011

To Poach or Not To Poach

For a long time, the thought of poached chicken had me turning up my nose. The truth is, when done correctly it's a great way to prepare chicken quickly. A few cups for a pot pie? Tons for chicken salad? Fresh chicken waiting to be made into the meal that's just not going to happen? Poach it.

In this case, I poached two boneless skinless breast halves for a chicken cobbler. The key to tasty chicken and broth - is aromatics. I added onion, carrot, celery, bay and thyme to the chicken pot and covered with a couple inches of water.

Bring the pot to a boil, cover and let simmer for 12-15 minutes. It's always best to check the internal temperature when cooking meat - shoot for 160 degrees. Remove from the broth and allow to cool before shredding or cutting per your recipe.

Don't forget to save the strained broth. The best tasting broth would be made with chicken breast with bones and skin. That said, even when made with boneless chicken breasts save it. Add it to a dish in place of water or even just the pasta pot. Use every bit of flavor that bird had to offer.

So give this a shot. It's a handy technique.

I just thought they should know and so should you.


Sunday, April 24, 2011

Happy Easter From the Yellow House

May your baskets be over flowing...

Your eggs be brilliant....

Your buns be crossed....

...and your Peeps be most awesome when microwaved!

Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 23, 2011

How To Bribe a 7-Year Old

A gigantic gummy bear on a stick.

Doug and I have never been parents to bribe or spoil with unnecessary crap. Then we had Henry.

Maybe it's because we're older and more tired.

Or perhaps it's because it's fun and in the long run we have really good kids. A little gummy artificial color laden candy won't ruin them.

And they're are only little for such a short time

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Perfect Gift

Isn't it lovely to be surprised with a gift? Isn't it especially lovely when some one you really, really like gives you something that was seemingly made just for you? Talk about feeling special.

My dear friend Cheri, surprised me with this vintage cake pan last week. Cake-my favorite food. Chickens - love 'em. Vintage quirky - warms the cockles of my heart.

What a lucky girl I am to have a friend like her.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Sophisticated Mama

Isn't it funny how as we age our tastes change? The fabric on the arm chair in the living room (I think I've mentioned it here before) that I loved when I had it made, now makes me twitch. Those shoes I thought were so cute that now live on the top shelf in the closet. Let's just let that one alone. Similarly, for years, softly cooked eggs made me shudder. Now, at the most random moments I crave them. The thought of Eggs Benedict makes me salivate. What's that about?

It's easy to attribute my adoration of the lovely runny egg to the virtues of my ladies and the gems they leave me everyday. But, I so vividly remember the first time I ate Eggs Benedict and distinctly remember feeling very sophisticated. Though it's many years, and a backyard flock later, I am convinced it's purely my heightened level of sophistication.

Okay, maybe not.

Anyway.....after the running of my third Shamrock Shuffle we were able to score a primo bar table at one of my favorite places on Michigan Avenue, The Gage.

A brunch and lunch menu - at one time. Good thing I had a bloody mary to help me through it. There were many, many delicious choices, including some of my old favorites, fries with curry dip, Scotch eggs and fried chicken livers. Doug chose a simple prime burger with bleu cheese sauce. It was fabulous. I ate....some...of it.

With all the lovely choices, my desire was clear immediately. Six words. Grits, Goat Cheese, Kale and Eggs.

At this point, I am at an utter failure for words. I know, hard to believe. Absolutely one of the most wonderful dishes I've ever eaten. Absolutely something I could make at home. Absolutely simple. Absolutely perfect. Absolutely worth every penny of $11.

Absolutely the choice of a romantic lady? Dunno.

Absolutely indicative of a sophisticated mama? For sure.

Kool and the Gang fan? Not so much.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Spring Cleaning

I've begun working toward getting the yard back in shape. After a few years of not giving it the attention it needed and a having a patio poured last year, it's really suffered. I really enjoy working in the yard and spending time getting my vegetable garden together.

The other bonus of this favorite pass time is getting to spending a bit more time with my girls. Nothing makes me happier than watching them in the yard. They each have special personalities and habits making for fabulous entertainment.

While checking out what needed to be done, I stumbled across this.

No, she's not dead. She's bathing.

While it's could be construed as voyeuristic I watched them and took a million pictures. It's hysterical to watch them flop around, shimmy-ing in the sand to get it up under their feathers. You'd never believe all dirt would come out but amazingly it does. Before too long they are pristine and refined ladies once again.

I wish I could figure out a way to get the dirt bath thing to work for Henry. Now there's a bonus.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Shamrock Shuffle 3x

Again this year Doug and I ran the Shamrock Shuffle 8k. Again, this year was a training/just for-fun race for Doug. Again, this year was weeks of fear and anxiety based upon the thought of being unable to reach the end. Rationality tells me - every year - that I'll finish yet each race is a new fresh hell.

It was a great drive to the city the morning of the race. Even though we left a bit later than usual and Doug barely made it into his corral I had plenty of time. It took forever for the race to start for the those of in the race corrals equivalent of nose-bleed seats. I think I had been running for 15 minutes when Doug began calling to see if I was done yet. Yeah, I wanted to hurt him.

But alas, as proven by the lifting of the Michelob Ultra (insert icckky face here) I crossed the finish line and was celebrating with a breakfast beer and a banana.

It's always fun and exciting to be in the city, especially on a perfect day. The people watching was great, the views clear, the sunshine divine, the company exceptional.

Too soon we were on the road home....

Already I've committed to running a 10k in June.

Again, a fresh new hell.

What's wrong with me?

Friday, April 8, 2011

Waste Not...

I am taking a different path today with this post. Though my "degree" is in interior design, I don't fiddle with it too much. I like simple decorating projects in my home, but as with clothing shopping, the older I get the less it appeals to me.

Many years ago, when we refinished the living room (no pictures - it would be too scary) I purchased some lovely, really too expensive sheers. They were stylishly too long and pooled lightly on the pale celery green carpeting. They were perfect. If I didn't have a dog jumping at the windows daily and 4 children using them regularly as hiding places, they would have been even more perfect.

One day I had an epiphany when contemplating how to freshen up the windows. I was feeling quite ill at the prospect of throwing the costly curtains with the tattered bottoms away. The window seat in the dining room has long been in need of some sheer covering for a bit of privacy and warmth. The old sheers were cut down (by a very talented woman-not me) and slim pockets added top and bottom.

A few bucks in tension rods later and my window seat is perfect.

It would be even more perfect if I didn't have an insane puppy and two very long boys that find it perfect for reclining...

Monday, April 4, 2011