Monday, June 28, 2010

Shelby Loves the Rain.

As the title suggests: my child loves the crazy monsoon that is a Florida summer.

Scott and I were both feeling a little under the weather this weekend. Shelby finally had enough of being in the house, so we packed up and headed for the mall. On the way over, we encountered one of those 2-block long swaths of super-heavy thunderstorm. After we passed through it, Shelby pointed out the window and said, "More!"

As we headed to Mecca (AKA the Apple Store) at the mall, the skies opened up and it rained sideways!!!!! All three of us got soaked - even with two umbrellas. We abandoned our plans and headed to Dick's (the nearest "big store"). The Princess was in no hurry to get out of the weather. I think she rather enjoyed it! We spent 45 minutes there waiting for the rain to let up. Scott and Shelby rode the escalator up and down for 15 minutes!

Then, I picked her up from school today and it was POURING at school. Most of the kids were on edge. One little boy was beside himself (apparently he's a sensitive one: he gets upset when they open a new trash you can imagine his terror during a thunderstorm!). Shelby was playing at the table oblivious to the tempest! When we finally cleared the storm at the Intercoastal, again, Shelby pointed and wanted MORE! I asked her, "More rain?" She got the biggest smile and nodded.

My ego is huge now: she thinks I can make it rain! Wonder how long that will last.............

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Week 24 Menu

Dad is out of town most of the week, so I'm falling back on the freezer stash a lot this week!

Sunday: Leftovers - pizza, fruit, fruit dip!, pancakes, oven fries......
Monday: Meatloaf (from freezer)
Tuesday: Gobi Matar Sabzi (from freezer - we'll see how it works out from the freezer)
Wednesday: Stuffed pepper (from freezer)
Thursday: Curried Egg Salad sandwich
Friday: Homemade pizza (we have an obsession)
Saturday: Cook out! I keep seeing grilled lettuce on blogs and ithink we need to try it!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Szechuan Noodles

Getting to make this recipe was a very tangential process. So, bear with me.
1. On Friday, Mike made an Asian Mango Chutney served over chicken. He busted out the rice vinegar, soy sauce, sesame oil and chili sauce. It was a great summer, tangy sauce!
2. On Saturday, I saw a Barefoot Contessa episode where she made Szechuan Noodles. She was making the sauce in her food processor (her signature kitchen tool). After she threw five or six ingredients in, she said, "We're halfway there!" Whoa! Talk about involved!
3. I had a plethora of veggies to use up in the fridge.

We had some asparagus, tomatoes, peppers, and onions in the fridge. We threw those bad boys in the oven to roast, cooked up some skirt steak, boiled some noodles, compiled, and voila!!! You haven't tasted complex until you've had Ina's Szechuan sauce! Sweet, spicy, pretty much sums up "Umami" in a single sauce.

I made a whole batch of the sauce, but only 1/2 lb of noodles - with an over-abundance of veggies. As such, I had enough sauce to marinate some chicken for another day. I took a page from FishMama's book and froze the chicken right in the marinade!

Szechuan Noodles
from Ina Garten

6 garlic cloves, chopped
1/4 cup fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/2 cup tahini (sesame paste)
1/2 cup smooth peanut butter
1/2 cup good soy sauce
1/4 cup dry sherry
1/4 cup sherry vinegar
1/4 cup honey
1/2 teaspoon hot chili oil
2 tablespoons dark sesame oil
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/8 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 pound spaghetti
1 red bell pepper, julienned
1 yellow bell pepper, julienned
4 scallions, sliced diagonally (white and green parts)

Place the garlic and ginger in a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Add the vegetable oil, tahini, peanut butter, soy sauce, sherry, sherry vinegar, honey, chili oil, sesame oil, and ground peppers. Puree the sauce.

Add a splash of oil to a large pot of boiling salted water and cook the spaghetti al dente. Drain the pasta in a colander, place it in a large bowl, and while still warm, toss with 3/4 of the sauce. Add the red and yellow bell peppers and scallions; toss well. Serve warm or at room temperature. The remaining sauce may be added, as needed, to moisten the pasta.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Week 23 Menu

Sunday: Szechuan Noodles (Ina Garten)
Monday: Pot roast with carrots and potatoes
Tuesday: BBQ shredded chicken sandwiches
Wednesday: Pumpkin pancakes
Thursday: Homemade pizza of some sort
Friday: Chicken Pot Pie (from the freezer stash)
Saturday: Friends coming over

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade

If you make one new recipe this summer, may I offer this recipe up? Things that drew me to this recipe like moths to a flame:
1. The title - "Tapenade" just sounds so fancy. And, pair them with olives and pistachios, and it's a flavor concept that just makes my mouth water!
2. The inspiration - I recently discovered Anne Burrell and her show "Secrets of a Restaurant Chef." She makes some fantastic dishes that are surprisingly accessible to the amateur chef!
3. The variety - This recipe is not something I would normally make. It's nice to branch out!

I couldn't find any lamb chops I liked at the store, so I got some butterflied pork chops. They were great! I think chicken, pork, or lamb would be fine in this recipe. I used an extra-large clove of garlic, and when I make it again, I'm going to cut back on it. The tapenade was bordering on a little too much raw garlic flavor.

It tasted fantastic!!! It looked and tasted like something I would get at a "date night" restaurant!! Scott is neither an olive nor a pistachio person, and he gobbled his chop up! He said he really liked the "paste" on top. Paste? Paste! This is a fancy dinner, mister! It's called "tapenade!" :)

Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade
Posted on Smitten Kitchen
Barely tweaked from Anne Burrell

1/2 cup pistachios, shelled and toasted
1/2 cup pitted green olives
2 tablespoons capers
1 clove garlic, smashed
1 tablespoon freshly chopped oregano leaves
2 tablespoons freshly chopped parsley leaves
Extra-virgin olive oil
1 lemon, zested
1 (8-rib) rack of lamb or 6 lamb chops
Freshly ground black pepper

To make the pistachio tapenade:
In a food processor combine the pistachios, olives, capers, garlic, herbs and puree. While the machine is running, slowly drizzle in olive oil until the mixture becomes a paste. Add the zest and pulse 1 more time, drizzling in more oil if necessary. Reserve until ready to use.

If using a rack of ribs:
Remove 2 rib bones from the 8 rib rack to make it a 6-rib rack. Counting from either end, remove the 2nd and 7th bones; this will create 6 even chops that are thicker than a normal lamb chop. Cut 6 even chops.

Cook your chops:
Season your six lamb chops generously on either side with salt and freshly ground black pepper. Allow them to sit for 10 to 15 minutes before cooking.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Coat a large saute pan generously with olive oil and bring to medium-high heat. When the oil is hot but not smoking, add the lamb chops and cook for about 2 minutes on each side to brown. If the pan begins to smoke, lower the heat. The chops should be beautifully caramelized on both sides. Remove the chops to a sheet pan and schmear generously with the pistachio tapenade. Place in preheated oven and cook another 4 to 5 minutes for medium rare. Remove chops from oven and let rest for at least 5 minutes before serving.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Week 22 Menu

Sunday: Lamb Chops with Pistachio Tapenade (from Smitten Kitchen); this one is too intriguing to pass up!
Monday: Chicken Pasta Salad (make ahead)
Tuesday: Shaved Asparagus Pizza (from Smitten Kitchen)
Wednesday: Drip Beef in the Crock Pot (Pioneer Woman)
Thursday: Stuffed Peppers from the freezer stash (This Week for Dinner)
Friday/Saturday: Grandma and Uncle Mikey are here this weekend!! Out? Whip up something fabulous with Mike? Hard to say!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Pictures from Daytona Bike Week 2033

Scott's Grandma sent down a Wishbone Bike for Shelby. It's pretty cool - it starts as a trike, then converts to a bike and then a taller bike (pretty much ages 1-5). It's made of sustainable wood, post-consumer recycled plastic, and it's toddler-powered.

Shelby was trying to ride the thing as Scott was still installing the wheels. It just about killed her to wait the 7.8 minutes for it to be assembled! She got the hang of it pretty quickly. The hardest part of the whole venture was getting her to wear her helmet. We're to the point where we have to play the "Big Girl" card: "If you want to ride the Big Girl bike, you have to wear the helmet. Big Girls wear helmets on their bikes!"

She started down the driveway and kept going. It's a good thing we live on a cul de sac! She was two houses down before we knew it. And, she was ready to keep going if it wasn't for an alert set of parents. I think she is going to be a toy to be enjoyed for a long time!!!

Mom and Dad had to wear their helmets to show they were Big Boys & Big Girls.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Geese....Why Did It Have To Be Geese?

Scott designated a wide putty knife as our official "pooper scraper" to get rid of the goose poo on our porch. He scraped up all the poo last night only to come home today to a porch with two goose feathers and at least twelve individual piles of fresh goose poo.

[Side note: I just reread that last paragraph and just have to be depressed with what our lives have been reduced to. I feel I'm one goose encounter from being the "Kids, stay off my lawn" lady!]

We're trying to figure out if there is a good goose repellent we can use. So, I consulted the ultimate authority: Google. When I began my search, I found the results in the "auto-complete" quite ironic and humorous:

Repellent followed by recipes....Others must be having the same thoughts we were having....

Google has some good ideas - from sprays to coyote decoys. Now we just have to read some reviews. I think we'll have to consult the other ultimate authority: Amazon.

The worst part of all of this is monthly neighborhood newsletter had several articles celebrating the neighbors who are feeding and housing the geese and raccoons (Yes! I said raccoons!) in the neighborhood!!! And, we're the Scrooges who are trying to shoo them away.

Please don't call the Audobon Society on us. We mean no harm. We just don't want the magnificent creatures using our porch as a toilet.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New Layout

I've been doing a lot of blog reading. And, they all have cute layouts! I think I'm ready to change it up a little! The vine layout is is a little earthy, but still cute and whimsical. I think I like it!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Week 21 Menu

Sunday: Chicken kebobs with veggies & three-cheese risotto
Monday: Big salad with veggies
Tuesday: Welsh Rarebit from Pioneer Woman
Wednesday: Spinach Lasagna from the freezer (I'm testing out a new freezer recipe)
Thursday: Pasta salad
Friday: Leftovers
Saturday: Out.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Freezer Cooking....Take One!

I was on "vacation" this week. My father-in-law deftly asked me, "Did you find time to relax this week?" I certainly did....I have some pink shoulders to show for it, too! I also dipped my toe into the Once A Month Cooking concept at LifeAsMom. It's an intriguing thought. I think some of it is a bit over board, but that's my humble opinion.

But, I thought I had some time and some recipes that would lend themselves well to having on hand. So, I was a busy girl this week! And, she's right: it doesn't take too much more time to make 2 pot pies than just one. And, I found out I could be working on two recipes at once. So, now my freezer is stocked!

Here's what I made!
- 6 Stuffed Peppers
- 1 Meatloaf
- 2 Chicken Pot Pies
- 1 batch Curried Carrot Soup
- 1 batch Green Meatballs (most of them didn't make it to the freezer...)
- 1 Lasagna
- 2 Pizza Crusts

And, surprisingly enough, this only took about 6-7 hours throughout the week. Now that I know what I can do in only a couple hours, this may be a regular event. Maybe not "once a month," but maybe I can make a couple servings (or three or seven) of a dish over a weekend.

I'd rather do the work up front, and have yummy, quick & home-cooked meals throughout the month. You know it was a big cooking event when I went through an entire 5-lb onion bag and a Costco-sized ground beef packet!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Meatballs...even a toddler could love

Shelby is on a "vegetables at home" strike*. She only wants o-mo (oatmeal) and fish (for which she makes a fish face to indicate her want). But, this girl loves her some red meat!! I have the week off of work, a 5-lb tray of ground meat from Costco**, and a new kitchen that's begging to be my laboratory.

Since I know she'll eat meatballs everyday, I decided it's time to play the hide-the-veggies-in-foods-I-like game. There is a sacred Benjamin/Caruana meatball recipe that I hold dear to my heart. My Grandma made these meatballs and they are to die for. I added 2 cups of pureed peas (and a bit more bread crumb) to the original recipe, and they were GREAT!!!!! Shelby certainly didn't know the difference (even though they are pretty green on the inside). I think this change may be permanent. Hey! Who couldn't use another serving of vegetables in their day?!

Green Meatballs***

1 lb ground chuck or turkey
1 1/4 c bread crumbs
1t salt & pepper
1/4 tsp garlic powder
3 eggs, beaten
2 c green peas, cooked and pureed


1. Boil peas for 6 minutes. The softer the better.
2. Puree peas until smooth. Some lumps are okay, but try to get most of the big ones out.
3. Mix all ingredients together.
4. Form balls. I get about 30 balls (slightly smaller than golf balls). I find the smaller the ball, the quicker they cook up in your pan.
5. Brown in skillet of 1/4" hot oil until cooked through rolling every couple minutes to make sure cooked evenly.

* According to her teacher, she eats her veggies at lunch. She must know Mama & Dad are pushovers....

** Other dishes I made: Stuffed Peppers for the freezer, Meatloaf (x2), & lasagna.

***I can't decide whether it should be "Green Meatballs" or "Goose Surprise Meatballs." Just look at the'll understand.