Wednesday, July 29, 2009

I'm Back!!!

So I am a slacker and I have failed to post on here recently!! Last week Matt was in Michigan and I was in Savannah with my family so no cooking was done from “the book.” Since it has been so long…as a recap I have now completed 34 recipes. I had hoped that this number could be higher but I will be working hard this week to make up for lost time.

This week I will be cooking…

Tuesday 7/28
- Rosemary Chicken & Summer Squash Brochettes (p.244)
- Fresh Corn Sauté w/ Tomatoes, Squash & Fried Okra (p.471)
Wednesday 7/29
- Grilled Salmon Steak w/ Lime Pepper Butter (p.305)
- Grilled Zucchini (p.473)
- Glazed Lemon Bread (p.541)
Thursday 7/30
- Grilled Rib-eye Steaks w/ Parsley-Garlic Butter (p.370)
- Potato Gratin w/ Cream & Fresh Herbs (p.439)
- Broccoli w/ Garlic & Parmesan Cheese (p.484)
Friday 7/31
- Pork w/ Gorgonzola Sauce (403)
- Mashed Potatoes w/ Green Onions & Parmesan (p.437)
- Old Fashioned Blueberry Muffins (p.537)
Saturday 8/1
- Croissant French Toast (p.494)
- Beef & Gorgonzola Burgers (p.173)
- Bistro Oven Fries w/ Parsley and Garlic (p.441)
- Sugar Cookies (p. 598)

Dinner last night was very refreshing. It was nice to be back in my own kitchen and cooking again. In the recipes I used fresh okra and squash from a family friend’s farm in GA.

Tonight I am looking forward to preparing the salmon steaks!! As you can see from the above menu I have my work cut out for me this week!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Sunday Recap/Week Menu

Yesterday was a busy cooking day! I started off the day with a Blueberry & Orange Smoothie (p.699) which was a little tart but it was still a very refreshing drink. With drink in hand I got to cooking. I made some Buttermilk Biscuits (p.549). I have never made biscuits from scratch so this was a very new experience for me. I think that next time I would use a larger biscuit cutter and I wouldn’t flatten the dough as much as I did. The dough was touch and go for the first few minutes after mixing due to the lack of flour on the counter and my hands. But after I added additional flour and cleaned the sticky dough off my hands I was able to forge ahead.

For lunch yesterday I FINALLY made the Best BLTs (p.149). I had planned to make this sandwich a few other times but had never gotten around to it. I love BLTs in their original form but after this making this “Best BLT” I’m not sure that I can go back the traditional sandwich. The sandwich consisted of toasted country bread, fresh made basil mayonnaise w/butter, tomato, thinly cut red onions, fresh avocado, lettuce, and bacon. The result was great!

After lunch and putting Emma down for her nap (we had a little issue with this) I hit the grocery store for my weekly shopping. After over an hour in the grocery store I made my way home and took Emma to the pool. We have been struggling at the pool this summer but I finally think that Emma is starting to let go of her fears a little. She is now willing to go under the water a little and loves to be thrown… as long as she is holding onto a noodle.

After the pool we came home and I started cooking. My parents came over and I made Cilantro-lime Crab Salad in Avocado Halves (p.109) and Cayenne Spiked Crab Cakes (p.365). The crab salad in the avocado was so good and it would be the perfect light entrée for a lunch! I hadn’t originally planned to have my parents over for dinner but when the recipes served 4 I thought that dinner together would be a perfect end to the weekend. It was nice to sit outside with my family and enjoying our new table, dinner, and some white wine.

Bellow is the menu for this week. Matt and I will be going out to dinner on Thursday since next week he will be up in Michigan without me : - ( I wish that Emma and could go with him but his family reunions coincided with our annual trip to Tybee Island. I have not been able to go to Savannah for the past two years due to work commitments so I am exited to go this year!!! I am also excited about the opportunity to try out some recipes on my family and friends down there.

On Friday and Saturday I will be busy with Heather and Scott’s wedding. Heather and Scott are old co-workers from the RNC and I cannot wait to assist them on their big day!

Monday 7/13
- Giant Chocolate Chip Cookies p.597
- Shrimp w/ Shallot Tarragon Sauce on Wilted Spinach p.350
Tuesday 7/14
- Artichokes w/ Lemon Garlic Butter p.466
- Porterhouse Steaks w/ Tapenade & Balsamic Vinegar p.381
Wednesday 7/15
- Spicy Black Beans w/ Onion & Bacon p.449
- BBQ Chicken Thighs w/ Brown Sugar-Hickory Sauce p.248

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Outdoor Fun

What a beautiful weekend! On Friday Matt and I met up at Home Depot and found a great patio table for our dinky little brick patio. I really enjoy eating outside and I am happy that we now have a proper place to do so!

On Saturday morning I made one of the best breakfasts, Fried Eggs on Toast w/ Pepper Jack & Avocado (p.517). I used regular pepper jack as opposed to spicy so that Emma would also be able to eat the same food.

On Saturday I also made the Best Ever Banana Bread (p.540). This recipe lived up to the title and I even found myself buying a few more bananas in the store today so that I could make it again.

Saturday night I also made Fafalle w/ Sausage, Tomatoes & Cream (p.207) I was originally going to make this on Friday night but because we bought the table and had to put it together we ran out of time and well to be honest I was just too tired. The recipe was great and made SOOO much food. I used spicy sausage by accident and I would recommend using the sweet that is called for.

Friday, July 10, 2009

For the love of Avocados

Last night I made Baked Halibut w/ Orzo, Spinach & Cherry Tomatoes (p.319). From start to finish this dish literally took only 15 minutes!

As Matt suggested next time I would brown the Halibut on the stove first so that it would add a little texture and crispiness to the bottom of the fish. I will admit that this was my first time cooking halibut and I think that it was a success. I added some avocado to the top to give the dish some visual appeal and because I simply love avocado and would eat it every day!

Early on in our relationship Matt and I were watching TV and on the show a husband planted his wife an avocado tree in their backyard because of the girls love for avocados. Matt said that one day he would plant me an avocado tree in our back yard and I stated that I didn’t like avocados but that he could still plant me the tree to show that he cared…. Oh how things change in the course of two years. I now LOVE avocados and I even found Matt looking up how to plant a tree one night. I am confident that if you come and visit us years from now you will find an avocado tree in our back yard (or at least the attempts of one). Due to the climate in the Northern Virginia area I by no means think that our tree will thrive but it is still something that I would love to try one day. I plan to hold him to the avocado tree promise!

I am so excited that it is FRIDAY!!! I admit that I am a total loser that finds great comfort in planning and organizing. I would even say that I thrive off of planning. After dinner is done, Emma is in bed and the dishes are started I will to sit down at my dining room table and with THE cookbook and determine which dishes I will be cooking next week. I will create a massive grocery list (our grocery expenses have gone up since starting the project) and I will spend an hour with the grocery store circulars and my coupons determining which store I will purchase various items at in order to get the best deals. Yes I have turned into that person… the one you see with the full cart and a mound of coupons who goes up and down each isle or visits 2-3 grocery stores a week. I know that these actions make me a huge dork but I typically save over $50 a week with my savvy shopping style.

479 to go!

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Dinner with the Rents

I met up with my mom at the Army Navy Country Club after work to pick up Emma. She had a pool play date with another little girl who went to her preschool last year. While I was talking to my mom she mentioned that she didn't know what to do for dinner and since I had four pork chops defrosted and waiting for me at home I decided to invite my parents over for dinner!

I feel so lucky to live only 5 minutes away from my mom and dad! They are a wonderful support system, a HUGE help with Emma, and as I am getting older I am learning to appreciate them more. I truly do enjoy spending time with them. On average we have at least one meal a week together.

Tonight I made Pork Chops w/ Cranberry Port & Rosemary (p.401) and Broccoli in Brown Butter (p.485) From start to finish the total cook and prep time was about 30 minutes and the outcome was delicious! The outside of the pork was perfectly browned and the sauce overtop truly made the dish unique. My only variation on the recipe was that I used Marsala in the sauce as opposed to the tawny Port that it called for.

Yesterday I made pizza and it was a complete failure! Complete with a slight (Matt might say major) mental breakdown. To start... I thought that I would save time and buy the pizza dough from the store so that my only step would be to unroll it from the canister. When I opened the package I discovered that the Pillsbury Doughboy had failed me and that the dough was breaking apart and that I was unable to unroll it. I will admit, at this point I was super irritated. My shortcut had turned into an obstacle. Matt walked into the kitchen and found me cussing at the dough and angrily trying to get it to do what I wanted. He thought that he would be helpful and suggested that I might want to try another method and that is when "shit hit the fan." Looking back I can say that he was being helpful but in that moment I took all of my anger from the dough out at him. I proceeded to throw the dough and yell that he should do it if he thought that he could do it better. He is a WONDERFUL boyfriend and he took that same dough and proved that he could in fact do it better.

After the pizza was cooked or "seemed" cooked I took it out of the oven and after it had cooled Emma, Matt and I gave it a try... It was not good at all the top was borderline overdone and the dough was soggy and soft. I do not know what happened. Maybe it was that I was lazy and used the wrong dough or maybe the tomato mixture was too soggy. The night ended with a call to the Chinese restaurant...

480 to go...

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

17 down…

Public Service announcement to all of my girls...

If you see $150 Christian Louboutin shoes on-line (especially if they are on the Perez Hilton blog) do NOT buy them. The saying that "if something seems too good to be true it usually is" applies in this case...

So I have made 17 recipes so far which I feel is darn good for only being 8 days into this year long project! YAY for me ;-)

Last night I took a break from my cooking and Matt took Emma and me out to dinner. We went to one of my favorite restaurants, Silverado. Silverado is a part of the Great American Restaurants chain and specializes in Tex Mex food. I have to admit that I felt super guilty pushing back my menus to accommodate a night out but at the same time it was nice to have a break.

Bellow is the menu that I am planning on following for the remainder of this week. Like last week I will probably add a few additional sides so stay tuned…

Tuesday 7/7
- Fast Deep Dish Pepperoni Pizza p. 181
- Best Ever Banana Bread p.540
Wednesday 7/8
- Pork Chops w/ Cranberry Port & Rosemary p. 401
- Broccoli in Brown Butter p. 485
Thursday 7/9
- Baked Halibut w/ Orzo, Spinach & Cherry Tomatoes p. 319
Friday 7/10
- Farfalle w/ Sausage, Tomatoes & Cream p.207
Saturday 7/11
- Fried eggs on toast w/ Pepper Jack & Avocado p.517
- Best BLTs p.149

There will be no dinner on Saturday because we will be at a meet the baby party!! Some friends have been blessed with being able to adopt a beautiful and healthy baby girl and I cannot wait to meet her!

Monday, July 6, 2009

4th Picnic

This weekend was a busy one full of cooking and time with family and friends. On the 4th we decided to take in the fireworks at the Pentagon. After the pool and a visit to the grocery store I started cooking! We decided to pack a picnic and get there early for some good seats. Bellow are the things that I prepared for the picnic

- No Fail Chocolate Chippers (p.597)-- These cookies truly are no fail and just the right mixture of chocolate, walnuts and oats. My only issue is that I am unable bake cookies that do not turn into bricks the next day. We had these cookies last night with some ice cream and they were so hard but still yummy!
- Open Faced Lobster Salad Sandwiches (p.156)-- These sandwiches were so good and super easy to make. The recipe called for me to boil the lobsters myself but I found it easier to have the Giant seafood counter steam them with some Old Bay while I did the rest of my grocery shopping. I allotted one lobster tail per sandwich which I felt would be better then the one tail shared between two. Another change to the recipe is that I did not keep them open faced. Since we were talking them to eat at the Pentagon I bought some fresh sub rolls and placed the lobster salad on those.
- Guacamole (homemade but not from cookbook)
- Sparkling Raspberry Lemonade (p.701)-- Matt Helped me out with this one and I have to say that I felt awful because as much as I have been boasting about what a quick and easy cookbook we are using… this drink was NOT quick and NOT easy. If you want some sparkling lemonade just but some at the store and add raspberries and some sparkling water. One hour to make lemonade is not worth it.
- Raspberry Sour Cream Tart (p. 613)—Not sure where to begin on this one… After we got home from the pool I realized that I needed 4 hours to make this tart (which of course I didn’t have) so I ran to the store and got home with two hours to cook. I immediately mixed up all the ingredients for my tart and in the process broke a lot of recipe rules…
1. I didn’t let the crust cool before adding filling. Causing the filling to have some of the gram cracker crust mixed in.
2. I didn’t have time to refrigerate the dessert for 4 hours. From the recommendation of my super smart (and cute) boyfriend I placed it into the freezer for the time I did have left
3. Instead of enjoying the dessert it fell out of the refrigerator (I had moved it there after the filling hardened) when I opened the door. So we did not get to enjoy the tart. I had tried a little when I made sure that the filling was correct but I am sad that it was not enjoyed by all. This will be a desert that I will try again.

That was my interesting afternoon of cooking. When it is all said and done though we had a great evening and it was worth every bit of the time and effort. It was wonderful to spend time with good friends and to see Emma’s excitement.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Happy 4th

This morning we had Cinnamon French Toast (p.493). I thought that this would be a good way to start the 4th of July celebration and that it would give us the energy for a fun day! After much complaining by Emma she finally tried it and LOVED IT! This is a breakfast that we will make again for sure. It was super easy and fast! I used braided Challah bead which absorbs the egg mixture perfectly. I also used an electric griddle which made clean up a snap. Now it is off to the pool and fireworks this afternoon.

I will post tomorrow about the picnic that I am making for the fireworks tonight.

Friday Dinner...

I was so excited to have Friday off!!! My parents came over and we had Mango & Red Onion Salsa (p.30), Grilled corn w/Smoked Paprika (p.469), Bourbon-Molasses Drumsticks (p.249), and an avocado and tomato salad with balsamic over the top (Not in cookbook). I think that the star of the dinner was the Smoked Paprika butter that I made for the corn!

My mom is on a diet right now and brought over her own food to eat. I am so proud of her for sticking to the diet which was a hard thing to do with so much yummy food around. Everything was GREAT and I am already planning on cooking this meal again when we are at Tybee later this summer!

Bellow is the failed shrimp meal from the other day... We will try the shrimp again now that the gill is working.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Grill = Fail

So I will just admit it yesterday was a failure! I will give myself a 50% for even cooking the meal but that is still in the failing range.

After work yesterday I met up with my mom and Emma at the Army Navy Country Club to watch Emma’s swim class. She did a great job and I am hoping that within the next few weeks she will no longer hold on to the purple noodle as a crutch. When she is in the pool she hangs on to that thing like I would hang on to a pair of Christian Louboutins. She even clings for her dear life when she is in the shallow end and can touch!!!

After her class, we loaded into the car to run to the grocery store. At this point I was still motivated to cook and talking to Emma about what I would be making for dinner. After about 10 minutes in the car I turned around to say something to Emma and that was when I lost all motivation… SHE WAS ASLEEP. As other parents might sympathize there are times when you will do anything to keep your child awake in the car. I was singing kids bop songs, dancing funny and even bribing her with things like chocolate and gushers. As I pulled into Harris Teeter I could not help but to look fondly at the Chinese place next door. At that moment all I wanted to do was get a take out order and go home to put Emma to bed. I pulled myself together, picked my sleeping child, and juggled her and my shopping basket throughout the store to get my last minute ingredients. Once we got to the candy aisle I bribed her again to wake up and this time it worked. We paid and made our way home to cook.

After getting home my motivation continued to decrease but I pushed through and started my prep. I was excited about the grilled pineapple salsa which would accompany the shrimp and my first step while the shrimp were marinating was to cut and throw the pineapple on the grill. In between putting the pineapple on the grill and removing it to cook the shrimp we ran out of propane… We threw the shrimp skewers in the oven and got everything else together and on the table.

I liked the Tangy-Avocado and Orange Salad (p.126) but Matt was not a huge fan since he does not like balsamic vinaigrette on his salads… In regards to the main course I was not a fan at all! I would try to cook the shrimp again using the grill just to see if it held the flavor of the marinade better but I would not make the pineapple salsa again. To quote Matt “it is what it is” and all I thought was that it was BAD. The jalapeño and cilantro took over the dish and that if you did a salad like the one that we started with you wouldn’t need another side or salsa.

For the three day weekend… I’m planning on spending time at the pool with Emma and seeing the fireworks on Saturday. I am looking forward to an opportunity to cook a few breakfasts and deserts from this cookbook. Bellow is the menu for tonight and the weekend as I’m not sure how often I will post.

Thursday 7/2
- Ginger-Soy Grilled Steak p.375 ** Need to get trade in the propane tank**
- Garlic & Olive Oil Smashed Yukon Gold Potatoes p.434

Friday 7/3
- Mango & Red Onion Salsa p.30
- Bourbon-Molasses Chicken p.249
- Grilled Corn w/ smoked paprika p.469

Saturday 7/4
- Cinnamon French Toast p.493
- No Fail Chocolate Chippers (cookies) p.597

Sunday 7/5
- Crispy Cornmeal-Bacon Waffles p.500
- Quick Tomato and Basil Soup p.88
- The Best BLT p.149
- Spicy Grilled Chicken & Green Onions p. 244

495 Recipes to go!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Magnificent Mexican

I really like this blog thing and I will tell you why… after working all day, going to the wedding venue walk through, picking up a rotisserie chicken, and getting Emma from my parents I pulled up to my house and THE LAWN WAS MOWED! Thank you Matt!

Once I got home I started dinner immediately. The Layered Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa (p.264) was the perfect dish for a busy night. The fact that the recipe utilized the rotisserie chicken really cut down on cook time and effort. Prep time was about 10 minutes to layer flour tortillas (recipe called for corn but I like flour better) shredded chicken, Mexican/mozzarella cheese, and an enchilada sauce. The enchilada sauce was made out of salsa, green onions, and cilantro thrown into a food processer and took no time at all. After only 20 minutes in the oven we were ready to eat!

The 20 minutes cook time gave me a chance to read to Emma and whip up some fresh guacamole. As an FYI… we are totally a guacamole family and Emma and I even eat avocadoes plain as a snack. This is thanks to a fateful lunch with my Mem-Rel girls at Rosa Mexicano where I fell in love with their tableside guacamole. Also thanks to the same girls I’m no longer able to stomach guacamole and margaritas together… but that is a different story.

So, only 30 minutes after I walked in the door we were sitting down to eat a great/easy mexican meal. The Layered Chicken Enchiladas were so good that Matt even made the comment that “it looked like it took a lot of effort.” It makes me happy to say that it do not take any! What truly makes the dinner a success however was that Emma also loved the dish!

Needless to say we will be making this one again and I would recommend it to anyone!

Tonight I will be running by Giant to pick up some shrimp, taking Emma to the pool, and making dinner once Matt is on his way home. The menu for tonight is:

- Tangy Avocado-Orange Salad p. 126
- Grilled Shrimp w/ Pineapple Salsa p. 343

497 recipes to go!