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November 25, 2008

Israeli Couscous with Zucchini & Lentils

dinner

While I was making dinner last night I looked at everything that I was going to put in this Israeli Couscous I bought from Trader Joe’s and realized that every single ingredient came from Trader Joe’s!

Some of you may remember me posting every day last November about Trader Joe’s products for NaBloPoMo (National Blog Posting Month). How did I ever manage that?? I didn’t have Cooper back then- so there’s my answer! I kinda miss that project.

So what better way to remember that CRAZY month than to add another recipe to the queue!

it's what's for dinner

hello healthy

Israeli Couscous with Zucchini & Lentils
(something I made up)

-1 onion chopped
-2 cloves garlic minced
-3 tablespoons olive oil (reserve 1 tablespoon for the Couscous preparation)
-1/3 cup white wine (such as Sauvignon Blanc)
-4 zucchini chopped into small pieces
-2 1/2 teaspoons of fresh thyme
-1 lemon, juiced
-1 package TJ’s Israeli Couscous
-1 package TJ’s pre-cooked Lentils
-1/3 cup feta (this is optional)

1. Saute chopped onion and garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large pan over medium heat until onions become soft. Add wine and reduce until there is a little bit of liquid left. Add zucchini & thyme. Mix well and cook until zucchini is soft. This takes about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, prepare Israeli Couscous according to directions on back. When the couscous is done, put entire package of lentils in the microwave (cut a few holes to vent it) and nuke them for 3 minutes. Add lentils and couscous to the zucchini mixture. Add remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil and lemon juice to the mixture-stir until well combined. Now fold the feta in so it doesn’t melt too much. Season with salt & pepper to taste. EAT UP!

This recipe serves about 4 people.

lemon!

***Notes: This recipe can be vegan if you cut out the feta. It’s REALLY good with extra lemon and super yummy the next day! We made it an entree last night but I am sure it would be perfect with some grilled chicken or some yummy fish. Enjoy! ***

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November 24, 2008

busy busy weekend

Saturday marked the first time Casey & I left Coop to be babysat!

My parents watched him while we saw Zack and Miri Make a Porno (super funny!)

date night!

The next morning we woke up to a wonderful breakfast made by my Mom!

breakfast @ mom's house

the paremesan crust!

ooooooh eggs with herbs!

We hung out in our pjs and watched the little froggy sleep:


I went to a baby shower on Sunday afternoon. We drove back home and relaxed for the rest of the night.

First date night out with the baby was a success! It sure does take a lot of planning/packing to spend the night away from home! But it was totally worth it. I felt like a human again!

Now this week is all about getting my dishes ready for Thanksgiving. And of course- Giving thanks!

I am making:

-Creamed Spinach
-Yams
-Pumpkin Tiramisu

What are you making?

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November 16, 2008

Pumpkin Waffles


I had a cup of canned pumpkin puree leftover in my fridge and decided that it was my mission to use it up!

Luckily, Deb over at Smitten Kitchen figured that out for me!

PUMPKIN WAFFLES!

It just so happens that a week ago today I treated myself to a waffle maker in order to satisfy a *major* waffle craving. For some reason I’m having more cravings now than I did when I was pregnant. Waffles…Mushrooms……go figure!

When we were growing up, my mom always picked one weekend day and made a special breakfast for us kids. It was such a treat to be woken up with pancakes…waffles…french toast or an egg breakfast! So, I’ve decided that I am starting this same tradition in my own household.
To celebrate a 6 hour stretch of sleep last night, (Thank you Mr. Cooper!) I decided to make a special breakfast to celebrate. And here we have it!

who ever thought to beat egg whites?

the batter

pumpkin waffle!

Can you tell that I enjoyed them???

can you tell I liked it?

Pumpkin waffles…worth waking up for!

You can find the recipe here

***I mixed in a heaping tablespoon of pumpkin butter in the maple syrup I heated up to make an extra pumpkin-y syrup! Next time I will probably half the recipe as we had about 6 leftover waffles. It’s cool though…my freezer will hold take care of them for me until I get my next waffle craving. ***


Thank you Deb! I didn’t have to waste pumpkin puree thanks to you!

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November 14, 2008

Crantastic Cranberry Bread!

I bought some cranberries at Trader Joe’s yesterday.

i bought cranberries!

I washed them:

i had my own cranberry bog for 2.5 seconds

Made a cranberry bread recipe with them:

dry ingredient party

sir mix alot

So look what popped outta the oven!

crispy crunchy top

The huge piece I cut distracted me from photographing…

so this is all I have to show you at this moment!

ummm....

Crantastic Cranberry Bread


(adapted from Everyday Food Magazine)

-4 tablespoons melted butter
-1 12oz. bag fresh cranberries
-2 cups flour, spoon & leveled
-3/4 cup buttermilk
-1 large egg beaten
-1 1/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon baking soda
-1 teaspoon salt
-2 tablespoons turbinado sugar for the top

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9×5 inch capacity loaf pan. In a large bowl mix flour, sugar & other dry ingredients together. Whisk mixture and set aside. In a small bowl, beat egg; then add buttermilk and melted butter. Stir to combine. Add wet mixture to dry mixture and whisk well to combine. Fold in cranberries.

2. Pour batter into prepared loaf pan. Sprinkle top with the turbinado sugar. Bake until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. This should take 1 hour and 15 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack and let cool for 30 minutes. Invert loaf onto a rack. Turn right side up and let cool completely. (I kinda cheated cuz I was too anxious to try it…shhh)

**************************************************************************************
Many people have asked me how I am able to do so much in the kitchen while being a new mom. Well to answer you’re question- I have a little help! When Casey isn’t around to hold/cuddle the bebe, I use the detachable seat for Cooper’s swing and take it wherever I’m working. I put him on the kitchen table and he watches his momma run around the kitchen making a mess.

He will always get first dibs on licking the beaters when he’s old enough to!

Oh… and while I’m on the topic of Cooper, I thought I’d let you know that he started smiling on Tuesday 11.11.08

And I’ve been smitten ever since!


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November 9, 2008

Nigella’s Chocolate Guinness Cake

guess what I had for breakfast this morning…..

breakfast!

I made the cake part on Friday night while Cooper was napping….

about to make something good!

I am guilty of licking this spoon!

yes I would like to vacation here

Chocolate Guinness Cake
(recipe from “Feast” by Nigella Lawson)

Ingredients

Cake:
-1 cup Guinness stout
-1 stick unsalted butter, sliced
-¾ cup unsweetened cocoa powder
-2 cups superfine sugar (i used granulated)
-¾ cup sour cream
-2 eggs
-1 tablespoon vanilla extract
-2 cups all-purpose flour
-2 ½ teaspoons baking soda

i might have put my finger on this...

who wants to lick the spatula?

Icing
-8 ounce cream cheese
-1 cup confectioners’ sugar
-½ cup heavy cream

***The recipe didn’t say whether the cream cheese should be cold or at room temperature. I left mine out to take the chill off and it produced a runny frosting. I ended up adding another 4oz of COLD cream cheese to the food processor-whirled it up and it was finally the perfect consistency. Good luck!***

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and line bottom with parchment paper.

2. Pour Guinness into a large saucepan, add butter and heat until melted. Whisk in cocoa powder and sugar. In a small bowl, beat sour cream with eggs and vanilla and then pour into brown, buttery, beery mixture and finally whisk in flour and baking soda.

3. Pour cake batter into greased and line pan and bake for 45 minutes to an hour (Check at 45 minutes for doneness, poking a skewer in center.). Leave to cool completely in the pan on a cooling rack, as it is quite a damp cake.

4. When cake is cold, gently peel off parchment paper and transfer to a platter or cake stand.

5. Place cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in a mixing bowl, and whip with an electric beater, until smooth (You may also do this with a food processor like I did.).

6. Add cream and beat again until you have a spreadable consistency.

7. Ice top of cake, starting at middle and fanning out, so that it resembles the frothy top of the famous pint.

Serve it up!

frothy cream cheese frosting

I really enjoyed this cake. Not only was it novel to have beer in a cake, but it was pretty moist and had a good balance between bitter and sweet. The cake definitely needs the frosting to balance it out. Fortunately after adding the extra 4oz. of cream cheese I had extra frosting to make it even yummier. I’m pretty sure chocolate ganache frosting would be superb too!

Now excuse me…I have another slice to devour…

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November 5, 2008

Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage

chicken sausage & bean casserole with crispy sage

While flipping through the latest EVERYDAY FOOD, I thought that I would challenge myself and make something that I would NEVER make…

It’s kinda like how you try on that leopard print pencil skirt because you are curious….and it just may work!

Well…this did!

what's for dinner?

The crispy crunchy bready topping balances out the creamy richness of the beans and chicken sausage. The fried sage was a delight! A total stick to your ribs-comfort- food meal! Perfect for dark & cold Wednesday night!

Umm and HELLO!!!!! Tons of protein and fiber!

tada!

Chicken-Sausage and Bean Casserole with Sage
(recipe from EVERYDAY FOOD)

-1/2 baguette (about 4 oz) torn into pieces
-1/4 cup olive oil
-coarse salt & ground pepper
-1 heaping teaspoon garlic powder (I added this to the recipe)
-1/2 cup sage leaves (about 25)
-1 large onion, chopped
-4 garlic cloves, minced
-1 lb. fresh chicken sausage, casings removed
-1/2 cup dry white wine, such as Sauvignon Blanc
-3 cans (19oz each) cannellini beans, rinsed & drained

1. Preheat Oven to 350. In a food processor, pulse bread until very coars crumbs form (should make about 3 cups). Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil and pulse until combined. Add salt, pepper & garlic powder and pulse. Set breadcrumbs aside.

2. In a medium saucepan heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium-high heat. Add sage; cook until crisp 2-3 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer sage to a paper towel lined plate- set aside.

3. Add onion & garlic to the pan. Cook until onion is tender–about 5-7 minutes. Add sausage & white wine; cook, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon-until cooked through- about 5 mins. Stir in the beans; cook until beans are tender and creamy- about 5 mins. Season with salt & pepper.

4. Transfer sausage and bean mixture to a shallow 4 quart baking dish; scatter breadcrumbs on top. Place dish on a baking sheet and bake until golden-about 25-30 minutes. Let cool 5 minutes before serving. Add the sage leaves on top as a nice garnish.

want sage advice? fry it!


***My sage leaves didn’t come out as crispy as I wanted. I think I was parnoid that I would burn them! I ended up adding them to the top of the casserole in the oven 5 minutes before it was supposed to be done. Turned out PERFECTLY. They were nicely crisp.***

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November 1, 2008

Mixed Mushroom Pasta with Thyme

fun gus!

Did I ever mention to you how much I love mushrooms? Well I do… The good thing is that Casey is warming up to them. Which means I’ve slowly been adding them to my repertoire!

We had my parents over for dinner the other night so they could get their weekly fix of Cooper. I decided to knock down another recipe I marked to try from the latest EVERYDAY FOOD issue.

It was exceptional! It was incredibly moist & super mushroomy! The only problem I ran into is that the spoon I used to stir it with was COMPLETELY covered in melty Parmesan cheese. It’s not necessarily a problem because I was able to chew it all off (yum). But I would have liked more of the cheese to stick to the pasta. I also think that next time I’ll try using a twisty pasta like the recipe calls for.

Another good thing is that it re-heated REALLY well. It was still moist and not all gummy and dry like some pastas can be the next day.

mushroom pasta with thyme

din din

Mixed Mushroom Pasta with Thyme
(recipe from EVERYDAY FOOD magazine)

-12oz. gemelli or other short twisty pasta (I used penne)
-10oz. button mushrooms sliced
-8 oz. shiitake mushrooms sliced
-1 oz. dried porcini mushrooms (about 1 cup) rinsed in cold water
-4 tablespoons butter
-1 shallot, minced
-1/2 cup dry white wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc
-1 tablespoon fresh thyme, chopped
-1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

1. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook pasta until al dente; drain and return to the pot. Set aside. While pasta is cooking, in a small bowl, soak porcini mushrooms in 1 1/2 cup hot water until tender, at least 15 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add shallot; season with salt & pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally until shallot begins to soften, 3-4 minutes. Add wine; cook until almost evaporated, 3-5 mins.

3. Add button & shiitake mushrooms. Cook over medium-high heat, until mushrooms are tender and begin to brown, 6-8 minutes.

5. Add porcini and their soaking liquid (leave any grit at the bottom of the bowl) and thyme to the skillet. Cook, stirring occasionally until liquid reduces by half, 2-4 minutes. Transfer mushroom mixture to pot with pasta. Add Parmesan & remaining butter and stir to combine. Season with salt & pepper and serve with more Parmesan. DIG IN!!!

By the way… my little buckaroo turned 4 weeks old this past Thursday! How time flies! We are so close to getting a genuine smile out of him!

Say hi to Coop!