June Fortune

11 days into June, and it’s been a wonderful month so far.

Here are some news update on my life:

1. We’re getting a puppy! She’s an American Brittany.  She’ll be 13 weeks old when we pick her up Friday (this Friday! Ahhhh!).  Her name is Ches (like the game)-short for Chestnut. We are ecstatic! There will probably be some full posts about her in the very near future.  Expect BUNCHES of photos. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. I’m on week four of my training program and except for yesterday’s 3 mile run, I’ve stayed on track.  Today I have a 4.2 mile walk/run interval session lined up.  Waiting for Miss Brittney to get home from work and then we’re off to whip those legs into shape.

3. There are 82 days until my first race!  With nearly three months left, I’m pretty sure I’ll be ready and raring to go.

4. I hike the Long Trail in just 12 days – yikes!  I am nowhere near prepared. I’m heading into a week-long hiking trip with my cousin Spenser and my Aunt Karen.  I believe they just planned out the route this past weekend.  I have yet to see it, but I am pretty excited.  I’m (hopefully) getting some new hiking shoes Wednesday that I plan on breaking-in all next week (I know, not really enough time, but it’ll have to do).  I’ll try to borrow a hiking pack from one of my female hiking pals.  That just leaves a tent, water filtration system, and food to worry about.  You know, no big deal.

Ok, enough with the updates, onto my weekend.

This past weekend was gorgeous.  A stunning, summery Vermont weekend.  If only they could all be like that.  I even saw some kiddos splashing around in the lakes!  Brrrrr!  Dustin and I spent the weekend driving around in a topless jeep.  It’s been a long while since the jeep’s been road-legal.  We definitely took advantage of the fine weather and the jeep’s new legal status to cruise around the state.  Friday night it was off to Southern Vermont to help my little sister prepare for her eighth grade semi-formal. 

Isn’t she stunning?!  She’s not one to dress up often, so it was great to see her all dolled up in this wicked cute dress.  She’s growing up so fast…

She was lucky enough to be picked up from her dance in the loud, attention-grabbing jeep.  I think she was thrilled.  Then  she got to stroll around the grocery store at 10pm with her indecisive sister while wearing her formal garb.  Again, thrilled, I’m sure.

Saturday morning began with a relaxing dip in the spa.  My mom keeps that hot tub sparkling clean.  I love using it at least once when I’m home.  Dustin has extensive plans to build a solar powered hot tub for us.  I’m sure he will attempt the build. Someday… I don’t have my hopes set on enjoying that anytime soon.

Saturday afternoon we made our way to Boston to pick up some friends who flew in from Colorado.  I have to shout out to Dustin’s brother-in-law for kindly driving us into Boston and back to Leominster.  Riding in his new SUV was a much smoother, easier, more baggage-friendly ride than the jeep would have been.  We were able to enjoy a nice BBQ dinner on a new deck/patio while catching up with our friends before we headed back to Vermont.

The trip back was… a tight squeeze.  4 adults, 2 full suitcases, a box of puppy supplies, several backpacks and miscellaneous bags, all packed into this jeep:

Catherine and Ryan were able to enjoy a nice romantic cuddle session in the back seat (whether they wanted to or not).

We traveled to Randolph where we picked up a roomier vehicle and then headed from there to the NEK.  We arrived way up in Lyndonville at 2:20 am, exhausted and cramped.  I think we were all asleep within 5 minutes.

We were awoken on Sunday by two itty bitty kitties… Ryan’s cat had kittens about 5 weeks ago.  They were adorable little fuzz balls.  I love kittens.

We headed out early after doughnuts and coffee, compliments of the Ward family. We traveled the winding roads south to pick up the jeep then finally headed back home.  What a beautiful, beautiful day for a ride.

Today is just as gorgeous – sun, breeze, and blue skies.  The summer can’t get much better (and it’s technically not even summer yet)!

Tomorrow I’m off to Southern Vermont once again.  This time to celebrate my sister’s eighth grade graduation, to kayak with my other sister, and to teach my brother to drive a manual.  If I survive that car ride, I’ll be back on Wednesday with two red wine updates.

Ciao!

Check it Out!

Check out the updated “Recipes” page! You can find all the recipes I post categorized there.

Be sure to check out today’s post, too.  Lot’s of great meals to try one of these summer-like evenings.

Ciao!

Great Dinner Dates with Great Roommates

Who’s running a 5K trail race at Jay Peak?  This girl!  Signed up yesterday.  I’m super pumped.  The black diamond run… my thighs are going to hate me…for a very long time.  I was supposed to run the Smuttynose Half with timefortangerine in September.  But, pavement running is just too harsh on my delicate knees, so I’ve switched over to something I’ve wanted to do for a while now – trail running!  Timefortangerine will be racing through her third half marathon in support of the Pope Memorial Frontier Humane Society in Newport, VT.    If you’ve got a few extra ones lying around, (maybe some quarters hidden in that big comfy couch?), and you feel some love for those cute furry pets the humane society’s work so hard to care for, think about contacting Ms. Tangerine here.

My weeks have been so crazy lately, though it seems I’ve done nothing at all.  I put together a training schedule to prepare for Jay, and have been sticking to it.  I’m finishing up the first of my two summer courses and that’s been eating up a good chunk of my time.  Sunday marks the last day of this course, though.  Hooray!  25% done with my second Bachelors.  This program is going by too quickly. I’ve been planning meals to make with Ms. Brittney for our family-style dinners here at the Gendreau residence.  So far, we’ve had a delightful few weeks of scrumptious suppers.   Check it out:

Below: Beer Battered Tilapia with a Mango Salsa served over a Brown Rice Blend

To the left: Fennel Garlic Chicken Breast served with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and a mixed green salad.

Note last Wednesday’s white wine tasting in action below!

We had too many great meals to blog about recently.  We enjoyed Venison tacos and Venison Sloppy Joes.  Two super easy recipes and great ways to use up any leftover deer meat.  I can’t say I’m a HUGE fan of venison, so I appreciated these recipes for their ability to mask the gamey meat flavor.  Check out allrecipes for the Taco Seasoning and food.com for the Sloppy Joe recipes.  We used corn tortillas and added spinach, fresh cherry tomatoes, and sharp cheddar cheese to the ground venison for a tasty, gluten-free taco.  Do with yours what you’d like.  I ate my sloppy joe with rice, while others ate theirs with tortilla chips, and others on a bun.  These recipes are so versatile, everyone can find a way to enjoy them.

We also checked out the new restaurant in Waterbury – Prohibition Pig.  Great atmosphere, terrific beer list, good food.

Last night, we ended a chilly, drizzly day with a simple Beef Stew.

Just some carrots, celery, garlic, onion.  Easy peasy.  For those of you that know me, you already understand that I’m messy in the kitchen. I somehow manage to use every dish, every utensil, every measuring spoon, etc. in the house, even when it’s just rice that I’m cooking up.  I also have this tendency to spill things and drop things… The other day, while making dinner, you could nearly filla dustpan with the scraps that I threw around.  I’m totally serious here.  It’s pretty bad.  Last night, though, I hardly dropped a thing.  I was actually super excited about it.  When Brittney walked in the door from work I ran to her bragging about the tiny tiny pile of garlic pieces on the floor.  She was witness to my impressive ways.

The Stew was delicious.  Served some super simple dairy-free mashed potatoes. A nice easy way to round out an overall crummy day.

Beef Stew (adapted from Food and Wine’s Best of the Best Cookbook)

  • 5 carrots, peeled, halved, and cut into 1-2″ chunks
  • 5 stalks of celery, clean, and chopped
  • 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 lbs chuck roast
  • 3 T canola
  • 4 cups of gluten-free beef broth
  • 1/2 cup red Bordeaux-style wine
  • 1 t parsley flakes
  • 1 t rosemary
  • ground peppercorn
  • sea salt
  • 5 russet potatoes, peeled
  • 1 chicken bouillon cube
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1/3 cup potato water
  • 1/4 cup almond milk (or regular milk)
  1. Preheat oven to 350.
  2. Remove large fat deposits from the beef.
  3. Cut beef into 1 inch cubes.
  4. Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper.
  5. To a large saute pan set at medium-high heat, add 2 T canola oil. 
  6. Once hot, add beef cubes.
  7. Brown the beef on each side for 2 minutes.
  8. Transfer beef to plate.
  9. Add 1 T canola oil and carefully add the onions, celery and carrots.  Turn heat to medium and saute 5 minutes or until soft.
  10. Add garlic and saute another 2 minutes.
  11. To a large glass baking pan/ casserole dish (like pictured above, right) or dutch oven, add the veggies, meat and juices, beef broth, parsley and rosemary.
  12. Place pan in oven and braise for 40 minutes.
  13. Remove from oven, add 1/2 cup of red wine and stir.
  14. Return to oven and cook for 1 1/2 hours.
  15. Check the meat for desired tenderness.
  16. May need to cook for another 1/2 hour.
  17. While meat is braising, prepare the mashed potatoes.
  18. Quarter the potatoes and add to a pot.
  19. Cover the potatoes with water.
  20. Cover the pot and bring to boil.
  21. Turn to low and simmer for 20 minutes.
  22. Use a fork to test for done-ness (fork should easily pierce through the potatoes).
  23. Strain, saving 1/3 cup of the potato water.
  24. Add bouillon cube to water.  Mix well.
  25. Add milk, salt and pepper.
  26. Pour mixture over potatoes and mash well.
  27.  If too thick, add 1 T water at a time until you reach desired consistency.
  28. Serve stew over mashed potatoes. 

Tips:

Serve with remaining wine.  Delicious!

Fennel Garlic Chicken Breast (adapted from Food and Wine)

  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 t fennel
  • 1 t oregano
  • 1/4 t crushed red pepper
  • sea salt
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 2 extra large chicken breast cut in half or 4 smaller breasts
  1. With a mortar and pestle, grind the garlic, fennel seeds, oregano, red pepper and salt into a thick paste.
  2. Add the olive oil.   
  3. Make three gentle, diagonal slices on the top of each breast.
  4. Rub 1/4 of paste into each breast, rubbing into each of the cuts.
  5. Sear each breast over medium-high heat (no longer than 1 minute each side).
  6. Cook, covered, for 4 minutes. 
  7. Turn and cook, covered for 4 minutes. 
  8. Best served hot with Rosemary Roasted Potatoes and a green veggie. 

Rosemary Roasted Potatoes

  • 1 bag of baby red potatoes
  • 1 T rosemary
  • ground black pepper and sea salt to taste
  • 2 T olive oil
  1. Quarter red potatoes.
  2. Place potatoes in glass baking dish.
  3. Pour oil over potatoes to coat (may need to mix).
  4. Sprinkle rosemary, salt and pepper evenly over potatoes.
  5. Place in 450 degree oven for 45 minutes.

Beer Battered Tilapia (adapted from Eating Well)

  1. In a small bowl, combine cumin, salt, pepper, beer and flour.
  2. Whisk until mixed well.
  3. Coat each piece of fish in the batter.
  4. Heat oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.
  5. Place fish in pan and cook 4 minutes per side (fish will start to flake when done).
  6. Serve over Seeds of Change Quinoa and Brown Rice topped with Mango Salsa

Mango Salsa (adapted from Eating Well)

  • 1 ripe mango, peeled
  • 1/3 cup sliced red onion
  • 2 T fresh lime juice
  • 1.5 T rice vinegar
  • 1/2 T fresh cilantro
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, peeled and diced
  1. Cut mango into small cubes (need help?)
  2. Add mango, red onion, and cucumber to a small dish.
  3. Add vinegar and lime juice.
  4. Season with cilantro.
  5. Cover and place in fridge for 30 minute.
  6. Eat with tortilla chips or over fish. 

Note: All recipes posted above serve 4-5 people. 

We’ve had many great meals in and some great meals out in the past few weeks.

Are we spoiled?  Maybe just a bit.

You really can’t ask for much more than healthy, hearty food shared with great friends, drinks, laughter, and the occasional dirty joke (maybe a bit too occasional around here).

Enjoy diving into these summery recipes and be on the lookout for some more gluten free meals in the near future!

Update

A quick update:

My page has changed around again.  I know.  Forgive me?  You’ll just have to bear with me… I’m still new to this blogging thing.  I’m slowly figuring out the basics of html coding and the finer details of WordPress, but after today, things are beginning to look how I want them to.  I do apologize, though, for the many theme changes and broken links.  We should be all set for a little while now. 

What a relief. 

Be excited for Wednesday Wines! I WILL be posting tomorrow…I promise.  

Also, be on the look-out for a new pork recipe coming soon.  I’m thinking Hawaiian Pork, yum!

Peace,

The Tootsaroni

 

“…nothing in life is too much trouble if it turns out the way it should.”

You’ve gotta love Julia Child.  What a character she was – not only in the kitchen, but also in life.  I can very much relate to this quote of hers in My Life in France.  This week, everything took a turn for the best.  I was a crazy-woman this week.  We drove from PA to VT on Monday, moved stuff from the condo into the car and then to B+S’s that evening.  Then came Tuesday when I unpacked and reorganized the kitchen.  Tuesday night we celebrated Brittney’s 23rd birthday with Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells served with Garlic Bread and a Tossed Salad with a Flourless Chocolate Cake for dessert.



Ricotta and Spinach Stuffed Shells (adapted from myrecipes.com)

  • 24 Jumbo Shells
  • 15-oz. container ricotta
  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan
  • 2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach (chopped)
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
  • Pinch of ground nutmeg
  • 26-oz. pasta sauce
  1. Preheat oven to 375º F
  2. Cook the shells according to the package.  Then drain and rinse with cold water.
  3. While the shells are cooking, mix together the ricotta, 1 cup of mozzarella, Parmesan, spinach, egg and all spices.
  4. Spread sauce to just cover the bottom of a 9 x 13 inch pan.
  5. Stuff the shells with the cheese mixture.  One heaping T per shell.   
  6. Set the stuffed shells in the pan.  Pour the remaining sauce over the shells and sprinkle with remaining cheese. 
  7. Cover the pan with foil and cook for 35 minutes.  Remove the foil and cook for 1o more minutes. 
  8. Let cool 5 – 10 minutes and serve. 

TIPS:

– This recipe can easily be made gluten free by purchasing gluten free shells.  I couldn’t find GF large shells, so I used GF lasagna noodles, spread the cheese mixture over the noodles, topped with additional Parmesan, a second layer of noodles, more sauce, then mozzarella on top.  Fantastic!


Flourless Chocolate Cake (from Allrecipes.com)

  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup white sugar
  • 18 (1 ounce) squares bittersweet chocolate
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 6 eggs
  1. Preheat oven to 300°F.
  2. Add the water to a sauce pan on medium heat. 
  3. Add the sugar and salt to the simmering water.
  4. Whisk constantly until the sugar and salt have dissolved completely in the water.
  5. Set aside.
  6. Using a double boiler (I use a glass bowl set atop a sauce pan), melt the chocolate. 
  7. Once melted, remove from heat.
  8. Add the butter in pieces to the chocolate, using a hand mixer to blend the chocolate and butter together. 
  9. Beat the eggs together, then add to the chocolate mixture.
  10. Add the sugar water to the chocolate and mix.
  11. Pour the batter into a greased 9 X 9 pan.  
  12. Place the pan into a bath of boiling water (one pan set in a second pan that is filled with about 1″ of boiling water).
  13. Bake in the water bath for 45 minutes.  The top will still look wet.
  14. Cool on a cooling rack for 15 minutes and then refrigerate overnight. 

I only helped to create this birthday meal.  The real credit goes to Spenser and the Birthday Girl.  Spenser found these delicious recipes and worked with Brittney to create them.  The pasta was great and the cake to-die-for.  We even ate the cake warm (we couldn’t wait until the morning) and it was delicious served with vanilla bean ice-cream.   So simply, yet so complex.

The next night was my turn for meals.  The sunshine inspired a grilling session, so Honey Maple Chicken and Roasted Potatoes found their way to our plates.


Honey Maple Marinated Chicken

  • 2 T Honey Dijon mustard
  • 1/3 C maple syrup
  • 1/4 t ground pepper
  • 3 splashes apple cider vinegar
  • 1 t vegetable oil
  • 4 chicken thighs or breast
  1. Mix together the mustard, maple syrup, pepper, vinegar, and oil. 
  2. Pour  over chicken.
  3. Refrigerate for 1 – 2 hours
  4. Grill chicken, turning only once until meat reaches an internal temperature of 165°F.


Maple Garlic Roasted Potatoes

  • 4 medium red potatoes, quartered, then cut crosswise into 1″ cubes
  • 3 gloves minced garlic
  • 1/4 C chopped red onion
  • 1 T Oil (vegetable, canola, or olive)
  • 1/2 t McCormick Grill Mates Smokehouse Maple Seasoning
  • 1/2 t Seasoning salt
  • 1 t coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 t sea salt
  • Two 14″ long sections of tin foil
  1. Cut the potatoes, garlic, and onions.  Toss together.
  2. Add the oil.  Toss to coat completely.
  3. Sprinkle on each of the 4 seasonings. 
  4. Toss once more.
  5. Divide into 2 and place each half on the tinfoil sections. 
  6. Wrap the foil to enclose the potatoes.
  7. Place foil on grill and cook until potatoes are tender (about 20 minutes on medium-high grill heat).  

I served the grilled chicken with the potatoes and steamed green beans.  The maple flavor was present, but not overpowering.  The potatoes were so soft and tender; they melted away in your mouth.  This is one of my first meal creations that wasn’t adapted from  other recipes or that followed a cookbook.   Try it out and let me know what you think!

With two great meals in a row, it’s hard to imagine a third dinner turning out equally spectacular, but low and behold, it happened. Brittney suggested a recipe she learned of through Eating Well Magazine.  Sesame- Ginger Pork Patty.  She chose to modify it to her own liking and used turkey burger and a spinach salad with edamame instead.



Sesame-Ginger Bunless Burger

  • 3 T GF soy sauce
  • 4 scallions, chopped
  • 1 T fresh ginger root, minced
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 2 t sesame oil
  • 1 t rice vinegar
  • 4 pineapple rings (if grilling) or a can of chunks (if using a George Foreman-like grill indoors)
  • 1 lb turkey burger
  • 4 handfuls baby spinach
  • 1 bag of edamame (enough to serve 4)
  1. Mix together the soy sauce, scallions, ginger, garlic, and 1 t sesame oil.
  2. Pour 1/2 of the mixture over the ground turkey. Mix until the meat is moisten (don’t over-mix).
  3. Form the meat into 4 patties.
  4. Grill the patties.
  5. While the patties cook, add the rice vinegar and remaining 1 t sesame oil to the leftover soy sauce mixture. 
  6. Add the pineapple rings to the grill -brown on each side. 
  7. Place a handful of spinach on each place.  Place one pineapple ring or several chunks on top of the spinach.  Place the grilled burger on top.  Spoon 1/4 of the sauce over each burger. 
  8. Serve with a side of edamame. 

I was happily surprised by how tasty these burgers were. The sauce seemed so scant I expected the burgers to be nearly flavorless and bland.  I was proven wrong.  They were oozing with flavor.  The pineapple nicely complements the dish.  I generally can’t stand pineapple, but I gobbled them up with this burger.  We are definitely adding this to our dinner repertoire.

So there you are, 5 recipes that will successfully feed a family of four for three consecutive evenings and for many lunches in between.  They are each succulent, flavorful, and nutritious (ok, maybe not the cake… at least it’s got some antioxidants, right?).  Each meal is fairly simple – easy enough for the working parent to whip up.  The results, however, are far more complex and will have your kids, significant others, friends, and coworkers raving about your kitchen skills and asking for more.

I promise you they’ll turn out like they should, and when they do, you’ll realize it really wasn’t much trouble at all.

Springtime Beauty

What events mark the movement into Spring for you?

Sitting here today, I am reminded of the season by the bird families nested in the trees beyond the window, chirping songs back and forth.  So pretty.  The fields of dandelions scattered along VT’s Route 2 are hard to beat as far as memories of Spring.  The fields become overwhelmingly yellow, a welcome change, however from the mud brown the melted snow leaves behind.  With the last few rain showers, the trees have blossomed and the flowers bloomed.  The area has brightened incredibly.  Today I am reminded of the beauty Spring is capable of.

What does one enjoy on a lovely Spring afternoon?  Well, a fruit smoothie of course! I rarely make smoothies.  Why?

  1. There’s rarely fruit in the house other than apples and bananas and frankly, I don’t enjoy apples or bananas in my fruit drinks.
  2. My blender is wonderful, but huge.  Cleaning the monstrosity takes much more effort than I’m usually willing to put in to a smoothie.
  3. I really enjoy picking up smoothies made by others – at the Co-op, the mall, the farmer’s market – they’re delicious without the hassle.

But, today I had fruit.  Dustin graduated college this past weekend (Yay, Dustin!) and of course, a party followed.  What will you find at my parties?  Fruits and vegetables.  I am a nutrition major after all.  I had hollowed out a watermelon for a certain adult cocktail and had half a watermelon worth of fruit scraps.  I couldn’t serve the watermelon that came out of the bowl in the shape it was in (I basically tore it out with my hands and a fork).  What are you supposed to do with a bunch of scraggly looking watermelon pieces?  I froze them.  I also froze the leftover strawberries and raspberries.

We’re in the process of moving, so post-graduation we packed up our bags and all the perishable foods in the house  and headed to my friend Brittney’s for the week.  Today I discovered that Brittney has a  Bella Cucina blender that very much resembles a Magic Bullet (we’re talking blenders here).  Hmmm…. frozen fruit and a small, manageable blender.  Guess what comes next?

A mix of watermelon, strawberries, blueberries and raspberry, blended together with cranberry juice and flax seed.  Delish.


Super Fruit Smoothie*

  • 1/4 cup frozen watermelon chunks
  • 2 large frozen strawberries
  • a handful of frozen blueberries
  • a few frozen raspberries
  • 1 T ground flax seed
  • 3/4 cup cranberry juice
  1. Mix all ingredients in a blender. 
  2. Blend until smooth.

* all measurements are approximate

Tips:

  • Fresh fruit may be substituted for any frozen fruit, but will result in a more liquid smoothie
  • This smoothie came out VERY thick, so more juice may be desired
  • Any fruit juice can be substituted for the cranberry juice – try what you like!

With Spring here, and summer very near, I’m making it a goal to blend up smoothies more often.  Like this one, they’re generally simple, healthy, and delicious.  Too good to ignore.

If you read through the recipe, you’ll notice I used flax seed.  I’ve never used flax seed in any of my meals before so I was unsure what to expect.  The seed provided texture, substance, and flavor.  One tablespoon worked perfectly.  The smoothie acquired a bit of a fibrous flavor, but wasn’t gritty.  Overall, a success addition. 

What out-of-the-ordinary ingredients do you add to your smoothies?

A Red Pepper Friday

Today is not my day.  I woke up at noon.  I know… what a waste.  Then came breakfast.  What a catastrophe.  I guess I should have known better.  I mean, you can’t have a whole week of good cooking without a slip here or there, right?  Right.  Yesterday I made pancakes for Dustin.  There was leftover batter so I thought, hey, why not make waffles today?  Maybe it was oversleeping, maybe it was the gloomy weather, but for some reason, I chose to just throw the batter on the waffle iron.  Just as it was – pancake batter.  I should have been thinking, “Um, Emily? It’s called pancake batter.  What, you think you can just pour that into the iron and presto! waffles?  I don’t think so!”  No, instead, I was thinking, “I want waffles.  Why white flour?  I should have made gluten-free ones.  *Sigh*”  So, rather than pay attention to the task at hand; rather than think logically; I was selfish.  What happened to these pancakes turned waffles?  Well, the smell was amazing.  Wafting through the house, awakening the senses.  The result?  Terrible.  Rubbery.  Wet in the middle.  Burnt on the outside.  Separated layers.  I drenched them in fresh maple syrup and handed them off to Dustin.  He ate them.  I don’t think he enjoyed them.  To go with the “pan-affles”, I melted some dark chocolate in a pan, and added it to a cup of Keurig brewed hot chocolate.  The only problem?  The Keurig malfunctioned and sent all the chocolate powder into the cup with barely any water.  So I basically had a cup full of chocolate mixed with chocolate powder.  I added water, but the result was a sweet, too sweet warm chocolate.  *Sigh* It’s just not my day in the kitchen.

So rather than dwell on the negative, I want to share with you some FABULOUS foods I made this week!

First off, Thursday breakfast – a mix of potatoes, carrots, onion, bacon and spices.  Delicious.



Emily’s Breakfast Medley

  • 1 T olive oil
  • 2 russet potatoes
  • 1 carrot 
  • 1/4 onion*
  • 2 slices bacon
  • sea salt
  • pepper**
  1. Add olive oil to pan and heat on medium.
  2. Dice the potatoes (medium to large dice).
  3. Add potatoes to pan.
  4. Slice the carrots. 
  5. Add carrots to pan.
  6. Slice the onion. 
  7. Add the onion to the pan.
  8. Cut bacon into tiny pieces. 
  9. Sprinkle the bacon among other ingredients in pan.
  10. Let cook on medium heat for 10 minutes.  
  11. Stir up the vegetables to allow to cook on all sides. 
  12. Let cook for another 10 minutes untouched.
  13. Stir up again and let cook some more.  
  14. Continue until potatoes are soft (a fork will easily slide through them).*** 
TIPS:
* I used a red onion here.  Vidalia onions work well, however.  You may choose to add more if you like onions, or omit if you don’t!
** I added coarse ground peppercorn.  You may use regular black pepper.  Add red pepper for heat.  
*** A smaller dice will cook faster.   
Add spices or herbs you enjoy – cayenne pepper, garlic salt, thyme, rosemary, etc.
I added pea shoots to the finished product and served in a bowl. 

 Really, any leftover vegetables can be thrown into this dish to create an easy, hearty breakfast.  Try serving with fresh greens – spinach, romaine, mesclun mix, sprouts, etc.  Add some garlic and more onion for added flavor.  Try adding sweet potatoes, yams, celery, or mushrooms.  There are so many ways to easily make this dish your own.  Go ahead, explore!

Earlier in the week – Kung Pao Chicken with peanuts.  This was a recipe adapted from the Kung Pao Chicken recipe in Grace Young’s cookbook, “Stir Frying to the Sky’s Edge”.  I know I’m always referring to her book.  You should really check it out.  Before her book, I NEVER ate stir-fry’s.  Now?  They make up dinner at least twice a week, some times more.

We threw together ginger, garlic, red bell pepper, peanuts, scallions, and chicken, mixed with the stir-frying essentials – soy sauce, rice wine, salt, cornstarch, and sesame oil. The balsamic vinegar and sugar addition to this particular stir-fry works wonders.  We always stir-fry with peanut oil.  The flavor is wonderful.  The aroma is even better.  Clearly this would not be the recipe for you if you have peanut allergies.  We’ve found a perfect gluten-free soy sauce to use: San-J Organic Tamari.  Apparently, tamari sauce is the term for wheat-free soy sauce.  Who knew?  The San-J organic Tamari comes in a gold-label, and is inexpensive.  There is also a non-organic version, a low sodium option, an organic low sodium choice, and travel packets available.  Oh how I love the internet.  Information at your fingertips, 24 hours a day.

Red peppers have been gracing many of our dishes lately.  the Kung Pau Chicken, Hoisin Pork with Peppers, and Sichuan Pork with Peppers and Peanuts (once again, Grace Young is to credit for them all).

I do love red peppers.  Much more so than the green ones.  As I was slicing through this pepper to prepare the Hoisin Pork, I was taken aback by the beauty the red pepper holds inside.  I wish I was a photographer, with one of those oversized, “I take perfect pictures”, cameras. I would have captured that intimate moment to share with you .  The rich, deep reds; the glossy finish; the smooth, but textured surface – I felt as if I had sliced a masterpiece in two, a work of art now laying in pieces upon my workspace.  I grew an even greater appreciation for the fruits of the earth, the items we take for granted, the things that fuel us and fill us.

With art and food in mind, I will leave you today with the words of British celebrity chef, Keith Floyd:

Cooking is an art and patience a virtue… Careful shopping, fresh ingredients and an unhurried approach are nearly all you need. There is one more thing – love. Love for food and love for those you invite to your table. With a combination of these things you can be an artist – not perhaps in the representational style of a Dutch master, but rather more like Gauguin, the naïve, or Van Gogh, the impressionist. Plates or pictures of sunshine taste of happiness and love.

 Ciao!