Monday, January 31, 2011

Week 11 - When is the food too Spicy?

Well, I have been experimenting with my new Mexican cook book (thanks Jy) and I've found that a few things are spicier than I imagined.  I made this poblano, onion and tomato sautee this week to eat with seared steak and Alain had to keep a hand towel next to his plate to wipe off the sweat caused by the meal.  ;)

Let's put it this way. . . we had to ask the neighbor's if he could borrow a beer just so he could finish the meal.  I borrowed a coke rather than a beer, but it helped me just the same.  So, I am treading a little more carefully this week with my recipe selections.  We'll see what happens. . .

Sunday - Fajita burgers, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes and broccoli
Monday - Mahi-mahi with tropical salsa, cilantro-tomatillo rice
Tuesday - Steak with carmelized onions, black beans, leftover rice (always make extra)
Wednesday - Chicken legs in red chili sauce, carrots, potatoes
Thursday - Beef tacos, black beans, yellow rice
Friday - Costal Seafood Soup, corn bread, salad
Saturday - Beer can chicken, broccoli, roasted potatoes

Well, as you can tell, I'm still crazy about Mexican cooking.  I love having dried chilis in my pantry.  It just feels nice to cook with some different ingredients that my normal set of pantry items.  Most of these recipes are from cookbooks, but I'm happy to post any one if you are interested.  Just email me or leave a post. 

I'm guessing that most of you are making menus, so please share with me.  There's only a few people getting this blog, so I promise the whole world won't know what you're cooking.  I'm using this blog as a way to encourage myself to make new things.  When I'm prepared and I've planning my menu, it's not such a big deal to add something new to the mix.  So, I don't care if you're having pizza every night, please post so this blog doesn't feel so lonely! ;)

Well, I tried to load a picture, but it seems that the 'insert picture' feature is unavailble at this time.  Sorry, ladies!

Have a great week everyone!


Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bagels & Muffins

So, I tried a new blueberry muffin recipe yesterday that I wanted to share with all of you!  It's from Ina Garten and here's the link if you want the printable version.  So delicious!

Blueberry Muffins

12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
3 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
8 ounces (about 1 cup) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
2 half-pints fresh blueberries, picked through for stems

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place 16 paper liners in muffin pans (I didn't use these and they came out just fine).

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs 1 at a time, then add the vanilla, sour cream, and milk. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. With the mixer on low speed add the flour mixture to the batter and beat until just mixed. Fold in the blueberries with a spatula and be sure the batter is completely mixed.

Scoop the batter into the prepared muffin pans, filling each cup just over the top, and bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the muffins are lightly browned on top and a cake tester comes out clean.

Emilie and I made bagels today thanks to a friend's recipe posted on facebook! 

Homemade bagel recipe
4 cups bread flour
1 Tbls sugar
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 Tbls vegetable oil
2 tsps instant yeast
1-1/4- 1-1/2 cups of warm water.

Mix all the ingredients in a bowl. You don't have to worry about soaking the yeast when you use instant yeast (most yeast sold these days is instant yeast). The dough should feel stiff, but add the extra water if it's really stiff, or you can't get all the dry flour incorporated.

Plop the dough down onto the counter, and knead for about ten minutes, or until the dough is uniform and smooth.

Cut the dough into 8 equal sized balls, and let rest for 10-20 minutes.

Pre heat your oven to 425.

Now, take each of the dough balls and using two hands, roll it into a little snake on the counter. When the snake is longer than the width of your two hands, wrap it around your dominant roiling hand. The dough rope should be wrapped so the overlapping ends are together at your palm, near the start of your fingers. Now take the two overlapping ends, and use your palm to squish/roll these two ends together. Once the dough is fused, you should have a perfectly circular bagel-to-be! This is the only part of the process that can take a little practice before your bagels will look really professional. Don't get discouraged if they don't look perfect, it just takes practice!

Let your bagels rest on the counter for about 20 minutes, and meanwhile, bring a pot of water to boil, and grease a large baking tray lightly. You can just rub a splash of vegetable oil and rub it around.

After the 20 minute wait, your bagels will start to look puffy, and it's time to get them boiling! Add them as many at a time as you can to your boiling water without crowding them. Boil for about a minute, turn them over, and boil for another minute. Take them out a let dry for a minute and then place them on your oiled baking tray. Repeat until all the bagels are boiled.

Add the tray to the oven, and after 10 minutes, flip the bagels over, bake for another ten minutes; and they're done!

Let them cool for at least 20 minutes, get the cream cheese ready, and feast on what's got to be one of the best weekend brunch treats possible!

You can add any toppings you like to these. To make sesame, onions, poppy seed, caraway etc. etc. bagels just have a dry plate ready with the seed or spice topping spread out on it. After the bagels have come out of the boiling water, place them face down onto the seeds, and then place the seed side up onto the baking tray. Bake and flip as for plain bagels.

Special Note: Just finished making the bagels and half of them are gone!  Whoops!  Made half with cinnamon sugar coating after boiling.  This is my favorite kind of bagel in Pensacola, FL from a place called Bagelheads!  They make snickerdoodle bagels that are to-die-for!  These were an amazing substitute!  :)

Blessings to all!


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Week 10 - Mexican on the Brain

So, I got this great new cookbook for Christmas called 1,000 Mexican Recipes by Marge Poore!  I've been begging for this cookbook since I borrowed it from my friend, Jeannie, before she moved to Colorado this summer.  Now that I have it, I'm obsessed with cooking Mexican food!  New sauces, new ingredients and so far everything has been super-yummy!  I wish I'd taken a picture of the tacos I ate for lunch today, but I'll do my best to describe them to you.  I grilled up some shrimp with homemade cajun seasoning, fresh pico de gallo and this avocado tomatillo salsa.  That's it.  Nothing fancy, but I had the tomatillo salsa sitting in my fridge just dying to be eaten!  Truly delicious and I might be eating shrimp tacos again tomorrow since the kids are sick anyway I really need to treat myself.  ;)

It was Emilie's un-birthday in school this week, so these are the cupcakes we made for her special day.  She insisted on having princess rings in the cupcakes, but I told her that Mommy couldn't get rings, so we came up with flags.  So, we did princess for the girls and Toy Story for the boys!  It was perfect!  

It's been a bad week for illness in our house.  Poor little Zachary (my 2-year-old) came down with pneumonia and my oldest (7-year Annabelle) came down with strep throat again!  She says her ears are hurting too, so we'll see what the doctor says for both of them tomorrow.  However, it's all not so bad when I get to eat shrimp tacos!

So, here's my best shot at a menu for this week.  It has been regularly changing for me as I explore new recipes in my new Mexican cookbook and my new French Ina Garten cookbook. 

Sunday - Fajita burgers, roasted mixed veggies and green beans
Monday - Sirloin steak with tomatoes, peppers and onions, white rice, black beans
Tuesday -Whole chicken cooked in Mole sauce, peas and leftover rice
Wednesday -Grilled salmon, mashed potatoes, carrots
Thursday - Spaghetti with meat sauce, roasted squash, broccoli
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Spicy thai-style shrimp with mixed veggies and white rice

I'm not sure if the comment thing is working yet, so could at least one of you leave a comment this week?  ;)

You are what you eat, so it better be good! 


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Week 9 - Life After the Snow. . .

Well, I'm still in shock that 5 inches of snow took us out of commission for a whole week, but I believe that it was a gift!  It was amazing to have Alain home all week to throw snow balls at and go sledding with all of us.  Also, I truly enjoyed getting to know my new neighbors better and making new friends as we gathered together under these unusual circumstances for Atlanta.

It appears that I am unable to get a menu out before Monday night, so I'm working on getting the menu done on Sunday.  It's actually Tuesday night, right?  I'm still a work in progress you know. . .

Also, these cupcakes have been a little distracting to me, so I thought I should post the recipe. I frosted the one in the picture with butter cream frosting, but they are super-yummy with chocolate ganache!

Here's the menu for this week:

Monday - Chicken stir fry with mixed veggies, white rice
Tuesday - Chicken enchiladas with tomatillo salsa, black beans and white rice
Wednesday - Salmon burgers, Caesar salad, roasted potatoes
Thursday - Fish tacos with mahi-mahi and I'm not sure what else. . .
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Out to Eat
Sunday - Chicken cacciatore, mashed cauliflower, broccoli

Have a great week everyone!  Post your menu in response - don't hesitate even if it's pizza and hot dogs for dinner every night!  :)

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Weeks 7 & 8 - A New Year!

Happy New Year everyone!  Each year flies by much more quickly than the last, but I'm enjoying every minute with my kiddos.  We had a white Christmas here in Georgia and it just made it one of the most magical days of the year!  It was so nice to spend the day cooking, visiting and eating our yummy Italian Christmas together!  We had a very laid back New Year's Eve playing the wii Mario Cart game until we couldn't keep our eyes open any longer!

So, I'm a bit behind this week and I've decided that I'll combine this week (which is already half over) with next week and you can just post one week of menus if you want.  I know that some of you do your shopping on Monday, so you might not know what you're cooking next week yet.  Just post whenever you get your menu together.  I've had a few issues getting your comments posted, so I'm working through the whole "blog" thing to make sure I get the comments approved in a timely manner.  ;)

It looks like we might be getting some snow on Sunday through Tuesday!

Week 7 Menu:
Sunday - Out to dinner
Monday - Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, mashed potatoes, broccoli
Tuesday - Meatballs with spaghetti, green beans
Wednesday - Chicken tacos, black beans, white rice
Thursday - Leftovers (quesadillas), corn
Friday - Pizza
Saturday - Thai shrimp with basil, carrots, white rice

Week 8 Menu:
Sunday - Salmon, roasted sweet potatoes, broccoli
Monday -Spaghetti with meat sauce, green beans, carrots
Tuesday - Chicken legs with mole sauce, roasted veggies, yellow rice
Wednesday - Chicken with 40 cloves of garlic, mashed potatoes, carrots, squash
Thursday - Mahi-mahi, peas, broccoli, rice
Friday - Leftovers
Saturday - Out to Dinner

Happy meal planning!  Let's kick the New Year off in style!