Thursday, January 24, 2013

New ingredient challenge - broccoli rabe

Well, I finally got around to trying one of Kim O.'s challenges. I used broccoli rabe for the first time last night. I've seen it in the grocery store lots, specifically the Asian stores, but have never ventured to purchase it. Basically, I shy away from vegetables that I think look like weeds.
broccoli rabe - definitely looks like a garden weed

The recipe was chicken tenders with mushroom sauce. It's from a 30 minute suppers magazine put out by America's Test Kitchen. Everything we have tried from this book has been good, so we had high hopes for this one. Unfortunately, neither Derek nor I loved it. The broccoli rabe has quite a bitter taste and the sauce in this recipe added no sweetness. We would probably try the recipe again, but use regular broccoli or bok choy instead. Also, not the most appealing looking meal.

the end result - not a total success

As an aside, if anyone sees a new version of the America's Test Kitchen 30 Minute Suppers magazine, please let me know as I would really like a new one. Mine is from 2010.

Today I wish...

I had this...

Beautifully Organized: Pantry Areas

Monday, January 21, 2013

Pan Rushed Pork Chops with Tarragon Sage Mushrooms

Well, this doesn't really meet any of the challenges that have been set out for us, but in order to weasel my way into one of the challenges, I can say with certainty that I've never cooked with………pork (yet in 2013).

Hence, Pan Rushed Pork Chops with Tarragon Mushrooms. I was inspired to make this after watching easy-on-the-eyes Chef Michael Smith create this dish on the food network. It was super easy.

You just sear some chops

Remove the chops and sauté garlic and onions in whatever yummy bits were left from the pork. Follow that up by tossing in the star of the show: Mushrooms! (I was excited for this recipe because I LOVE cutting up mushrooms. The texture is just really fun to slice through.)

When the veggies/fungi combo is good and ready, whisk in your libation, reduce for a bit, then pour in the whipping cream. Nestle in the seared chops and simmer just for a few minutes until the chops are cooked. Stir in the herbs at the last minute and serve!

I boiled up some red potatoes and served with a simple spinach salad. It was delightful.

I followed the recipe loosely, with the following exceptions:
  • I threw in an extra pork chop. I used boneless, but next time I’ll use bone-in. I think it will keep more moisture in (My pork chops were a bit too dry—but I probably overcooked them a bit during the searing stage)
  • I had leftover whipping cream to use up, so ended up using closer to an entire cup
  • I didn't have regular red wine, but used a cheap sherry. It gave a bit of sweetness which I actually liked, but probably didn't reduce nicely as red wine would. Therefore….
  • I added about a tbsp. of flour to a small amount of set-aside sauce, and then incorporated that into the pan to thicken everything up.
  • I didn't have tarragon, but had fresh sage. It was great and I’d probably go that route again.

One challenge that I DID do (but forgot to take pictures of!) was the cheese challenge. I made apple and brie stuffed chicken. It turned out really yummy!  

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Weekly Links

This is Sven the cat. He's fat. But we're working on that.

I've caught myself having conversations with him during the day. I'm working on that.

Lots of fun things going on on the internet. You work on that.

This week's links:

Want to exercise more but can't seem to get your butt to the gym? This app seems like a fun! I might be crawling all over James' furniture while I'm in Edmonton.

Been enjoying this mix on 8-tracks.


website to help you keep track of books/movies/music you want to enjoy.

Who doesn't like seal photos?

Make sure your online life is as private (or public) as you want it to be with one easy website.

The Good Night Lamp project on Kickstarter (amazing site, amazing ideas) caught my eye this week (though it's way over my pricepoint :(  )

Loved Plenty, want Jerusalem.

Remember the TGIF lineup on tv? Well, they're rebooting a show that I once loved...(can they also bring back Perfect Strangers, please?)

Pure. Unadulterated. Happiness. This video. Hear more on Radiolab's "Bliss" episode.

One simple site trying to dispel the myth that all scientists are balding white men in lab coats.

Make these. So simple. So addictive. (Add cayenne).

And if that wasn't enough internet entertainment for you, here's a 'definitive list' of things you should have seen in 2012.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Cooking Challenge #2 Results: Brussels Sprouts

I have never cooked Brussels Sprouts. Never. Lee's mom cooks them all the time and they are always so, so good. I figured if I ever made them, they would taste disgusting. I really am a very poor cook. Thanks to this food challenge, I challenged myself to cooking Brussels Sprouts.

The recipe I chose is Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Toasted Pine Nuts. It was so easy to make and used mostly pantry staples from my kitchen. That's a score in my book. I served them with meatloaf. Even Lee raved about how good it was. Cora and Beau gobbled them up. It was a good recipe. The only thing I would change would be to use reduced balsamic vinegar rather than balsamic vinaigrette. I thought the vinaigrette was too powerful and took away from the taste of the sprouts.

Here's the final result that I took on my phone. Sorry about my incredibly unartistic photo skills.

While at the grocery today, I looked for salsify. Nothing even close. I am so intrigued by that stuff now.

I have a suggestion for a future cooking challenge. Homemade bread. I would like to start making more bread at home, so I am looking for ideas. 

Happy Cooking/Sewing/Crafting!!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Cooking Challenge #2 Results: Mystery solved

First, a long convoluted Google search consisting of these terms:

"Long dirty vegetable" - fail. (Though surprisingly PG results, all things considered.)
"Identify root vegetables" - fail. (Though I finally sorted out the difference between turnips and rutabagas. I think.)

Then, I spoke to Google like it was a real person:

"Please tell me what are these unusual dirt covered vegetables".



I guess Google is old-school, and rewards manners.

Anyways, salsify are long roots from the dandelion family that, upon peeling away the dirt, skin, and sap, reveal a white flesh that have been described as "poor man's asparagus", and "oyster-y". Most recipes I brought up suggested making a blended soup out of it, and since that seems to be the general go-to for mystery/blah foods (at least in my kitchen...and on Chopped), we set out on this path. The Kid did all the stripping, and then I chopped them up and threw them in a pot with some onions. 

15 minutes passed.

And then everything changed.

Their texture and simple flavour convinced us to spare them the fate of the immersion blender. Instead, I threw in some carrots for colour and extra crunch, mashed up some beans and pesto (to appease my need to smush something), and smothered it all with a piece of salmon (baked with wild boar sausage).

I'd definitely buy salsify again if I could find it in stores!

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A new quilt

Here's the quilt I made for my father-in-law for Christmas. It was kind of a last minute idea, so I feel like I threw it together. I felt the need to use all shot cottons, which limited my color choices. I chose the purples because they reminded me of wine. I was debating between greens and grays for the other color. I also found that the shot cottons I bought (from PurlSoho) are extremely mobile and were constantly moving when I would cut and sew. Similar to linen, I guess. I don't love the colors, but I don't hate them either. 

I wanted a pattern that had a bit of a modern flare and on the masculine side of quilting. I feel as though I hit the mark on that aspect. I couldn't find a backing that felt right. I finally settled on the mustaches because they made me laugh. I figured this was my only chance to use a fabric like this. 

I need to venture out and learn how to free motion quilt. I was going to with this quilt, but ran out of time. I was hand sewing the binding on Christmas Eve until about 2:30am. The size of the quilt is perfect for napping on the couch. It made me want more quilts for myself.

Next on my sewing list:
Beau's quilt: The pattern is chosen, fabric is bought. Now I just need to sew.
Curtains: I've been pushing this one off for a while.
Cora's dress: I have the fabric to make her a dress for my sister's wedding. The wedding is this month, so I guess I should start that one.

Cooking Challenge #1 Results

Hello from Big Sky Country! It's been a while since I have posted, but I have a couple posts starting with the first cooking challenge. It's better late than never with the cooking challenges, right? 

I actually did the cheese cooking challenge during the actual challenge week, but I am just getting around to posting. Unlike KimO, I take terrible food photos. Absolutely terrible. However, I have some pretty tough yet cute judges who love to have their photos taken. :)

The dish I chose was a healthy version of Broccoli & Cheddar Soup. I thought it was good, but I would not title the dish Broccoli & Cheddar. It was more Broccoli & Bean with a hint of cheese. It was way more healthy though. I didn't use smoked paprika or kosher salt. I just used regular paprika and regular salt. I am really getting curious how these other spices would taste. I think I might have to get more pantry staples because I am finding more and more recipes that call for these two ingredients.

On to the judging panel.

Judge #1: 7 month old Beau. He just recently started on adult food, so he doesn't have a whole lot experience. A "food virgin" if you will.

Results: Love. Ate it for 2 days straight. Breakfast, lunch and dinner. Success.

Judge #2: Nearly 4 year old Cora. She is a self-described good-eater, but will turn her nose up at the foods I suspect she'll love. She can be a real wild card, but tends to love most soups.

She liked how it smelled. 

A really big bite... 

Results: A thumbs up!! Chalk up another success. I guess this recipe goes into the recipe box. It's a good one for left over broccoli.

On a side note, Lee liked it. I think he would have liked it first had I not told him it was A) a healthy version of x and B) that is was Broccoli & Cheddar. I should have said we are having a bean soup.

I already have an idea for this weeks challenge. The major challenge for me will to be posting it before Sunday.

Happy New Year everyone!!