Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Cherry Sweet Potato Pudding

Sounds odd, right? Totally different from the sticky gooey delicious pudding we're used to. Worth the adventure, trying this. The texture's different too, as you grate instead of mash the potatoes. I've had the recipe a while and don't recall where in the world I found it.

Preheat oven to 325F.
Grate 2 lbs sweet potatoes. Put into a bowl.
Add 1 tsp baking powder, 1 c flour, 1/2 c raisins, 1/4 c cherries. Mix together.
Mix in 1/2 can of evaporated milk and 3 to 3 1/2 c coconut milk.
Add 2 tsp vanilla, 1 1/2 c brown sugar (packed), 1 oz butter, 1/2 tsp nutmeg, and 1/2 tsp salt.
Blend well.
Pour into greased baking dish. Let rest 20 minutes.
Bake at 325F for 1 1/2 hours until center is set. You might want a pan under to catch any drippings.
Let cool a little before serving.

Seriously good stuff.

T's Tongue Twister

T is a toddler who loves nursery rhymes. Much of the time we spend in the car we're singing or reciting together. Here's an exchange we had the other day.

Me: Peter Piper

T: Peter Piper

Me: Peter Piper picked

T: Peter piper picked

Me: Peter Piper picked a peck of

T: Peter Piper picked a peck of

Me : pickled peppers

T: pickled peppers

Me: Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled peppers

T: Peter piper picked a pe-- hey! don't do that to me!

We laughed! T and I have so much fun together. I love being his mom.

How do you and your children pass the time together in the car?

Monday, November 21, 2011

Menu Plan Monday: Thanksgiving Week

Very easy meal plan this week! Still, joining in with Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday- because life's easier with a menu plan.

Sunday- Lebanese Culinary Adventure

Monday- Leftovers

Tuesday- Cajun 15 Bean Soup

Wednesday- Leftover soup

Thursday- Thanksgiving dinner x2. Yes, that's twice. First with my mother-in-law's family for lunch and with my father-in-law's family for a mid-afternoon dinner. I've learned how to eat very light.

Friday- out shopping with my mother-in-law and the ladies on my father-in-law's side followed by a meal at O'Charley's (it's their tradition)

Saturday- leftovers probably

Monday, November 14, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

We're going to have our Lebanese dinner later this week because we were sick this weekend. In fact after I finish this entry I'm going to take a nap. So thankful to be around my inlaws right now. Hoping we don't pass it on to them, and that we're all well by tomorrow. Having my menu planned for the week will make getting back in the groove of things much easier. Check out the Org Junkie's blog hop to see some other great menu plans for the week!

Monday- with in-laws

Tuesday culinary adventure? If not will move to weds and make Wed's planned---

Wednesday: Bean Burritos

Thursday: Potato Cheese Soup

Friday: leftover soup

Saturday: Chicken Spaghetti

What are you planning to eat this week?

Friday, November 11, 2011

Flashback Friday: Mountains + Me = Joy

I love the mountains. Mountains + me = Joy
So far that equation has yet to fail.
I do have a favorite mountain though.
I love the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Back in the 70s my grandfather bought a cabin in the Sierra
Nevada mountains of California. After he died (long before I
was born) my grandmother owned it until an uncle bought it from
her. I grew up visiting that cabin. All the time when we lived in
southern California, and every few years once we moved far
away to live in the deep South. I always called the Sequoia Nat'l Park
and Kings Canyon area "my Ithilien".
I am so happy when I get to visit those mountains. It's just so beautiful
and restful. Joyful!

This picture was taken in 2007, the year before I was married. My last
family vacation as an unmarried woman! Next summer I hope to go
with my husband and son to the cabin up there, perhaps joining
my sister, my father, and my mother. The cabin's definitely big enough.
We love to hike, to sit on the deck overlooking the lake, and obviously to
splash in the chilly mountain streams!

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Your Help Wanted- How Should I Make it?

I grew up with nativity scenes in the house. Both at my own house and my grandma's Christmas included a nativity scene. Or two actually. My mom had a large wooden olive wood nativity set, and a smaller plastic set she'd let my sister and me play with and arrange as much as we wanted. Since moving away from home the only "nativity" set I've had here has been a small ornament on the Christmas tree I bought one year on clearance after Christmas was over. Best way to buy a Christmas tree by the way. Seriously can get them for cheap!

image from

Have you ever made your own nativity scene? I am seriously considering it! One that my 2 year old son could play with during the day. Question is, which one? So far these diy sets sound feasible to me.

The first set is made from yarn and pipe cleaners

The second set comes from my mom's old 1970s Better Homes & Gardens Christmas book and is made from fabric scraps and wooden spoons. You paint a face on the bowl of the spoon and cut the handles to different lengths.

The third set comes from the blog Holes in My Shiny Veneer.

Fourth idea is to dress the peg dolls you find in Hobby Lobby in scraps of fabric.

I even found a suggestion online to make a set from salt dough.

There are so many ideas and so few weeks until the beginning of advent! So which should I make? Any other ideas for a homemade nativity set? Opinions?

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Chicken Veggie Ricotta Pie Recipe

Yesterday T and I met some friends at the zoo after his nap. We spent all afternoon there. By the time we got home I was not in the mood for frozen chicken chili I'd planned on reheating for supper. It sounded too heavy. I really wasn't that hungry. Actually the only thing that sounded good to me was pho. Which, apart from a trip to the local Vietnamese restaurant, just couldn't happen. Especially at such short notice. I hadn't planned my meals yet for the week (oops!) so I couldn't bump anything over to take the frozen chili's place.

Quickly taking stock in the refrigerator, I realized I still had some ricotta filling left. There was chicken in the freezer and a large bag of frozen vegetables. Very large. I bought it at GFS. There was also a pie crust in the freezer. Now I knew exactly what was for supper.

Ricotta Chicken Veggie Pie!

1 lb chicken, cubed 
1/2 tsp cajun seasoning
1 c ricotta
1 egg
salt and pepper to taste
little Better Than Bouillon Vegetable for flavor
1 pie shell
frozen mixed veggies
some biscuits for the top

Saute 1 lb cubed chicken lightly sprinkled with cajun seasoning. Take pie shell and prick and partially pre-bake. Fill the bottom of the pie shell with frozen mixed veggies and mix in the chicken cubes. 
Mix ricotta, egg, salt, pepper, and a little bit of better than bouillon vegetable flavor. Pour over the veggie/chicken mixture. Top with your biscuits. Bake for 40-60 minutes or until the eggs/ricotta mixture has set. Let cool for 10 minutes before serving.

It was devoured! We can't wait to have it again. I literally just threw it together so these are estimations of the amounts I used. My husband said I can make this any time as a variation on our usual pot pie. 

Very happy with how this turned out!

Monday, October 31, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Sorry this post is so late in the day. We did have a wonderful day today. T and I met with a friend at the zoo after his nap. Had a wonderful time and stayed until it closed.

Once again I'm joining in Org Junkie's Menu Plan Monday.

Here's the plan:

Monday- Chicken Veggie Pie

Tuesday- Curried Lentil Soup

Wednesday- Big Smokey Burgers and Baked Sweet Potato Fries

Thursday- Sweet Potato Burritos

Friday- Culinary Adventure

Saturday- Leftovers

Sunday- Pizza

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Musgo - Fiasco?

Last night we had a musgo fiasco.

Ok, well, that's stretching it a bit.

But supper was not a success. I'm not surprised honestly. I was simply making do. Thanks to my husband's work schedule my menu plan this week got shaken up. Last night instead of our planned culinary adventure (which will take place this weekend Lord willing!) I threw together a musgo version of spaghetti.

What's musgo? Everything in the refrigerator must go.

We had a couple things-- healthy things- that were not going to last the weekend. I needed to use them up. We had a quarter jar of Newman's Own pasta sauce and a 1/2 jar of a brand I picked up on sale to try at The Fresh Market. Both of them had a different texture. Not quite chunky, not quite smooth. We're not fans of that texture. Neither brand will be purchased again soon. Well, actually, I just need to throw together a batch of my mom's spaghetti sauce (a Frugal Gourmet recipe she's been making since the very early 1990s).

So, two brands of pasta sauce- neither of them favorites- were tossed into the pot. A quick glance in the vegetable drawer reviled 1/2 head of broccoli about to go limp. Hey, hadn't I read that people sometimes put broccoli in spaghetti sauce? 'Course I had. Plus, tons of vitamins! So into the pot went slices of broccoli "trees". Oh, and a touch of tofu. Just because it was sitting there begging to be used. Heat up some spaghetti, wash lettuce for salad, slice the remaining bread. Viola! Supper is served!

And oh, yes, the ate it. Not a ton but they ate it. They actually did better with the spaghetti than I did. I mostly stuck with salad!

Lessons learned:

1- Make sure when I get my tofu-to-sauce ratio right! If there are any chunks bigger than a little piece of ground beef, the texture won't be quite right and it won't blend in with the sauce the way tofu is supposed to blend with other flavors. Mash, mash,  mash and mash again.

2- If you add broccoli to pasta sauce, chop it really, really fine. You do not want large chunks of it- or any stems remaining- floating in the sauce because it makes it much harder to eat and less like spaghetti. The texture becomes a bit of a turn-off. To fix it, either chop it into really really small pieces, or put your pasta sauce with the broccoli in the blender!

3- Don't try combining two different brands of pasta sauce when both have been flops. If I must doctor them, get some spices, seasonings, and more tomato products and re-maker the flavors from the bottom up. 

Friday, October 28, 2011

Early Learning with Marta and Eaton: Magnetic Table

This was such a great idea I had to share it with you! The main library in the city has these magnetic tables in their children's department and my 2 year old is one of many children of many ages who cluster around the tables having fun...

Please check out this blog link.

Early Learning with Marta and Eaton: Magnetic Table

Thursday, October 27, 2011

What a Week- And a Big Thank You!

We're about to finish our unit on God Gives Us Homes. What sort of activities would you do with your toddler on a "home" theme? I plan to blog on some of these books soon. So sorry to all of you for my absence. It's been quite a week. Emotionally I've just not been up to blogging, or taking pictures of activities T and I have been doing this week. However things appear to be leveling out already so next week should be a much more active blogging week!

Thank you
 Jessica of  Healthy Mommy Happy Baby 

for awarding Wee Wonderings the Liebster Blog Award!

Apparently it's an award specifically for up-and-coming blogs with less than 200 followers. I'm so surprised and thrilled to receive my very first blog award. Please take the time to visit these two blogs. You really won't be disappointed.

The rules of the Liebster Blog Award are:
1. Thank the person who awarded it, and link back to their blog.
2. Choose five up-and-coming bloggers and pass the award to them, notifying them on their blog
3. Post the award on your blog
4. Hope the people you passed the award to will pass it on even further!

My top 5 picks are:

1. Two Steps Behind Six Little Hands
2. Real Women Cook
3. Love Like Rockets
4. Peaceful Parenting 
5. Gratefully Growing in Grace

To get the button, right-click on it and select "save image as". Save it to your photo folder on your computer. Then create your blog post and insert image using the upload images from your computer button in the post as you would any other photo!

I hope you enjoy these blogs as much as I do!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Once again I'm joining Menu Plan Monday by Org Junkie!

Sunday- Spaghetti made by my dear husband

Monday- leftover Tumbet

Tuesday- Pot Pie

Wednesday- Stir Fry of some kind

Friday-Culinary Adventure

Saturday- leftovers

Friday, October 21, 2011

Nature is Nurturing: Exploring a Park

Thanks to the invitation of a friend we've discovered a charming park. While a hefty drive and out of the way for us, it's well worth it. It's on the far northern outskirts of town. I'd never heard of this place before and made sure I went over maps with my husband this morning. Also made sure I had the up-to-date cell number of my friend in case we got lost. But we made it. What a park. :)

The park had a very pretty wood with a narrow walking trail.

The trail meandered through the woods, going around a pond and a field.

We found this log that looked like it had a face. See the eye and the mouth?

This flower- I don't know what it was, I need to learn!- grew near the pond.

Look, there's a hole in the ground! I wonder if anything lives there? :)

Actually, two. And a narrow footpath between the small hole and the deeper, larger hole.

Don't forget the playgound. Check out this awesome airplane 

It actually rocked when you sat it in, and had seats for several children. The propeller spun when you turned the "steering" wheel.

We had so much fun with our friends in the park! Hopefully we'll be going back and exploring that park again very soon. Perhaps we'll take Papa with us as well. 

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Friendship Project 2: Pretzels

Pretzels look like a big embrace. Yes, I know they're supposed historically to look like hands praying. But seriously, don't you think they could also be seen as hugging arms?

One fine morning about a week ago I was preparing to bake some bread in the kitchen before T and I met some friends at the park. T asked me for pretzels. There were none in the house. Between making the bread, grabbing a quick lunch, and then meeting our friends at the park I didn't have time to run to the store for a bag of pretzels. 

Quickly the thought flashed through my head "He's supposed to be learning about friendship and loving our neighbor as ourselves, and we already have all we need out, so why not?" 

"T," I asked him, "Would you like to make pretzels to share with S and D at the park this afternoon?"
He was thrilled!

He worked very diligently on his pretzels. I measured, he poured the ingredients in the bowl. Together we mixed. I divided the dough into pieces and showed him how to make snakes. Then I formed them into pretzel shapes. 

They didn't turn out perfectly shaped, but that's beside the point. T had a great time making pretzels to share with his friends. We also decided the rolled and twisted pretzel dough looked distinctly like the hugging, caring arms of friendship. Not bad for an impromptu "Friendship" project.

Want to make your own pretzels? It's easy. If you can make pizza dough you can pretzel dough. Here's the recipe I used. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Well, today is CD 1 for me *and* I got a flu shot. Not the most comfortable combination. Let's just say I'm exhausted. Very thankful I have a crockpot meal planned for tonight! I'm joining Orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday for the first time this week too!

Monday: Sparkling Beef Tips (got this from the Cooking for Your Family forum on BabyCenter)

Tuesday: Chili (rainy day + chili = wonderful. Love this chili, three kinds of meat ((we use crumbled bacon instead of bacon bits)), beans, beer in addition to beef broth, lots of herbs and spices.

Wednesday: Leftovers

Thursday: Culinary Adventure (will blog this on Cook In Fifty-Two)

Friday: Apple Cider Beef Stew

Thursday and Friday may be flipped.

Weekend will be leftovers and Thai Chicken and Basil from Fine Cooking

Friday, October 14, 2011

Play With Whipping Cream

Last Tuesday we had friends over for dinner and enjoyed sweet potato pie with whipped cream. Ever since T has been begging for more whipped cream. Why, this very morning when I asked what he wanted for breakfast he marched over to the refrigerator, opened the door and grabbed the bottle of whipped cream. Um, no. Sorry T, but that may sound good for breakfast, but it's a treat. He ended up choosing something else instead.

Later I decided T needed to have some fun with that whipping cream he wanted so badly. Why not use it to make pictures, or practice writing? So after his afternoon nap I grabbed the few necessary items and let him have at it.

What you need:
A cookie sheet or jelly roll pan or large plate
Whipping Cream
A willing toddler or preschooler
Napkins or towel to clean the mess

What to do:
Simply spray or spoon whipping cream on a plate. Let your child dig in and explore. Or play a "copy me" game where one of you draws a shape or number or letter etc into the whipping cream and the other draws the same thing.

It's loads of fun and very yummy! Enjoy!

Besides whipping cream (or shaving cream), what other messy fun finger play/art does your little one enjoy?

Global Babies: A Stunning Baby Faces Board Book

Babies love looking at baby faces. It doesn't matter if that face is their own in a mirror or another baby's picture on a computer screen or in a book, they just love faces. There are charming photo books on the market for young babies with pictures of faces. What makes this one different is its approach.

Global Babies is just that- pictures of faces of babies from all around the globe. What a way to introduce the smallest babe to the idea that there are all kinds of babies, but we are all people. Certainly they won't grasp that concept fully. While flipping through the pages of "Global Babies" they will be exposed to babies who live in different cultures. Babies who are all beautiful and loved just as your own baby is loved. 

The photography is interesting and beautiful. Even my 2 1/2 year old enjoyed looking at this simple board book. He's started noticing the details in the pictures "Mama, what's this?" This is a book that should be in every home and would make a lovely addition to any "first book" collection.  

Thursday, October 13, 2011

"I have it I have it!"

I love the exuberant joy of a little child. The smallest thing is new and exciting, even when they've done it before. "I have it! I have it!" my son cried when playing a match the picture bingo-type game. The picture on his card was the same as on the board: a butterfly! To him, he'd just won a million dollars. "I have it! I have it!"

Oh, if only we could recapture that joy and wonder as adults!

Children are a real blessing. I cherish my son. He truly is a joy.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

"Mama, more please?" pumpkin soup

This recipe should be called "Mama, more please?" because that's exactly what my 2-year-old said as he finally looked up from his bowl. Seriously, I started to wonder whether he'd ever come up for air. Once he took a single spoonful of the soup he was gone to the world. Hardly stopping to look up the spoon kept dipping into the bowl time after time, until he couldn't get it to scoop up much. Then he picked up the bowl and drank the rest. "Mama, more please?" he asked, finally giving me eye contact.
I myself couldn't help but smile after after bite myself. It was that good. My husband got home late, and once he tried the soup he was gone too. I don't know how many bowls of the stuff he ate, but it was quite a few. Highly recommend this rather unusual pumpkin soup. The original recipe calls for vegetable broth, but chicken broth adds nice dimension. 

Curried Pumpkin Soup adapted from

In a pan melt 2 tbls butter, and add 3 tbls wheat flour (will give a nice nutty taste, but all-purpose will work) and whisk until smooth. Add 2 tbls + 1/4 tsp red curry powder (or smooth 2 tbls if you don't like a kick) and whisk until smooth and bubbling.
Gradually whisk in 4 cups of chicken stock. Continue cooking, stirring, until it begins to thicken. Then open up and add 1 30oz can of pumpkin puree (not pie filling) and 1 1/2 cups of cream/half&half/coconut milk (just use whole milk if you must). Season with 2 tbls of soy sauce and 1 tbls. of sugar. Taste, and add any salt and pepper you think necessary.
Serve with a nice thick slice of bread to dip.
A bit of yogurt on the side adds a pleasant cooling touch.
Milk to drink tastes wonderful with this. 

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Monkey See Monkey Do, Toddler Edition

Our theme for now is "Loving your neighbor". Today something happened to T that was an excellent example.

Today at church a little girl walked across the room to T, reached out, and gave his cheek a big, finger-nail-digging-into-skin, unprovoked, pinch. Then she walked away. It left an angry welt on his cheek just below his eye. "Ice! I want ice!" he cried.

Later this afternoon, he randomly- lightly, not even leaving a mark- pinched my arm.
 "Why?" I asked. "Did you like it when A pinched you or did you cry?"
"I cried. Ice!" he replied.
"It hurt, didn't it? If you didn't like being pinched, do you think you should pinch?"
He gave me a hug.
Well, just us.

Monkey see, monkey do.

Design work again

So once again I'm playing with my blog. It's both a rewarding experience and I must admit rather frustrating. When one blog template seems to work, something about it is not quite right. Then when I find that thing I was originally looking for I have to search for a new template. I tried to make sure there's a sharing button after each post. Not finding it! So frustrating. Will have to search further how to add it after each post. I mean, seriously, a blog without sharing buttons? What fun is that?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

A Flavorful, Cheap, and Healthy Dinner!

Why oh why did I once again forget to take a picture for everyone? Because we were all devouring dinner, that's why! It was that good.

Sure didn't take long to make. Yesterday was a fussy day for my toddler. Perhaps I'll write about that later. So when supper time came around I just didn't feel like I had a ton of energy to fuss with it. I knew what I had on hand, and I knew what I didn't want to eat. After some quick searching I decided on a lentil daal. It's basically stewed lentils well seasoned on rice. I adapted it from two different recipes and will have to make it again. Perhaps often.

Lentil Daal

1 can coconut milk
1 can or 1/4 bag cooked lentils
1-2 tbls red curry
1 tsp red pepper paste
1-2 tsp garam masala (to taste)
1 1/2" sliced minced ginger (you can sub. ground)
3/4 tsp tumeric
1/2 c diced onion
1 tsp cumin
2 cloves garlic
1/4 c fresh basil, minced
salt and pepper to taste

In a large saucepan brown the onion ginger and garlic with the lentils. Add coconut milk and spices. Reduce heat and simmer until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings as necessary.
Serve over cooked rice.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Quick fun read- for me!

I have never reviewed anything other than a picture book on this blog. Before today. Today that changes.

T slept in this morning. I mean, really slept in. So I got a little time to myself this morning after S got up. In that time I opened up a short Newbery Honor book by the author of Ella Enchanted. In retrospect I don't know why I had kept putting off reading this book. That was a huge mistake. The book was enthralling. By the time S turned the water in the shower off, I'd finished it. So yes, it's very short. But oh, was it a fun read! 

The Princess Test is a retelling/expansion of the classic fairy tale The Princess and the Pea. You actually get to know why hiding the pea was the ultimate test for a princess' sensitivity, and why it stood out that the bedraggled maiden who turned up at the palace doors turned out to be the true princess and price's perfect bride. You learn the adventures of the princess and how she even ended up at the palace utterly filthy and drenched in rain. The author's creative answers to those missing puzzle pieces make an expanded fairy tale fresh and enjoyable for adult, teen, or anyone who enjoys a good novel.

 If you only have a short amount of time on your hands, use it by reading this book. This would make a perfect nap time novel. I'm sure you won't be disappointed. I sure wasn't! 

Monday, September 26, 2011

Weekly Meal Plan

Breakfast: Eggs
Lunch: Leftovers
Supper: Chili

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Apple Sweet Potato Carrot Soup
Supper: Sparkling Beef Tips

Breakfast- Waffles
Lunch: Lentil Curry
Supper: Leftover chili

Breakfast: Eggs
Lunch: Sandwich and salad
Supper: Stir-Fry

Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: leftovers
Supper: Gumbo

Of course this leaves the weekend free for our culinary adventure!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Life With a Toddler Is Like

Life with a toddler is like driving on the Blue Ridge Parkway. Cloudy and foggy one moment, and the next you round the bend into brilliant sunshine.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Blog name upgrade?

I am not 100% sure about the name of the blog. It's kind of long. A Very Happy Mama's Life.
I've come up with a few ideas.
Here's what I've thought of so far:
But I Wonder (Inspired by a Gilbert & Sullivan song!)
Bites'n'Books (cooking & reading)
Somersault Soup (activities and cooking?)
Play 'n' Eat
Play Eat Read
Does anyone else have some suggestions for a blog name or comments on my ideas vs what it is now? I'm very open to comments!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

A Simple, Savory Greek Soup

Tonight's culinary adventure was so delicious I forgot to take any pictures. Fasolatha may be healthy, yet judging by the flavors how can that be?! Yes, it's that good. You must try this soup.

Fasolatha adapted from

  • 1 cup white kidney beans (white pinto or great northern will work)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 4 small carrots, sliced into 1/2" chunks
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped into 1/4" slices, including the leaves
  • 1 (14.5 ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 3 cups water
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • salt to taste
  • ground black pepper to taste

To make Fasolatha, take a cup of white kidney beans, cover in water, boil a couple minutes, strain, and then place back in the pot covered with more water. Bring it to a boil. Chop up some carrots. Now, the original recipe calls for 2 small carrots. But when I cut those up I knew more were needed (according to my family's taste at least), so I cut up another. Still didn't look like enough. In the end I used 4 small carrots. To me, it seemed just right. I think less would've been a nod at carrot. More, well, I suppose more would work, but any more didn't seem necessary at all. Chop the onion, add it, the tomato products, the spices, and a touch of-- get this-- olive oil. Yes, olive oil in the soup! That's one healthy fat for sure. The recipe says to cook, covered, for 50-60 minutes until soft, but didn't say the temperature. I turned my burner to a 6 for 60 minutes and the beans weren't quite soft. It took another 30 minutes at a gentle simmer for the beans to be soft enough to my satisfaction. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Meal Plan

Monday- Burgers
Tuesday- Tacos
Weds- Roasted Chicken
Thurs- Curry using leftover chicken
Fri- Greek, TBD
Weekend- Salmon, leftovers

Friday, September 9, 2011

Italian Adventure- a light, refreshing meal

Many times when we cook Italian food here in the US it's very heavy and saucy. Alfredo sauce, spaghetti saturated in red sauce, baked ziti, lasagna. But when the time came to cook some Italian recipes my husband and I decided we wanted something lighter. It was a hot day! Armed with another stack of cookbooks from the library I finally crafted the evening's menu: Pollo Alle Cipolle, Patate Alle Contadina, Bietole All'Agro, and some Pesto Pasta.

Our pasta came from a Jamie Oliver cookbook called Jamie's Italy (pg 121). It was a pesto pasta. It makes a delightful lunch in and of itself, as we can attest from eating it the next day. The delicious smelling part was grinding the fresh basil and garlic together with a pestle. 
Mmm, can't you just smell it now?

The tedious part was grinding the roasted almond with the pestle into a powder. 
The delicious part was once I combined the basil, garlic, Parmesan, olive oil, spaghetti, and tomatoes together and seasoned it- oooh, wow! Everything about it was marvelous. It worked well as a side dish, and as lunch the next day. The flavors were light, pleasantly crisp, with a slight hint of nutty. 

Country Style Potatoes (Patate Alle Contadina)
Boiled potatoes in cold water with coarse salt until soft.

Made a "sauce" out of finely chopped garlic, parsley, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

When the potatoes were ready I peeled and sliced them. Then I tossed the potatoes with my "sauce" and chilled it in the refrigerator until supper time. It was a delightful alternative to our American and German potato salad recipes. We couldn't get enough! 

Pollo Alle Cipolle
I found this delicious chicken dish in Bugialli's Italy. Oooh, was it ever moist, juicy, and flavorful. Love, love, love! I would make this for company any day, or for my family when bell peppers are in season and chicken is on sale. I don't think boneless chicken breast would work- it's roasted a while. 

To make this, I sauted onions with salt and pepper until pale, and added salt, red & black pepper, white wine, red wine vinegar, and bay leaves.  I cooked until reduced 1/3. Then when ready to combine with the chicken I added some bell pepper rings and cooked until soft.

Meanwhile I prepared the chicken by removing the fat, drizzling it in olive oil, salt, and pepper, and baking it for a while. After a while I turned it, sprinkled on more salt and pepper, and baked it again. By the end of the second baking my sauce had been reduced. So I poured the onion/pepper mixture over the chicken and served.

Bietole all'agro 

aka Boiled Swiss Chard with Olive Oil and Lemon was billed as a "safe accompanying vegetable" in The Fine Art of Italian Cooking. After trying it myself, I fully agree with that assessment. It certainly tasted nicer than most greens recipes I've had before (and that comes after growing up in the deep South!). It was also incredibly easy. Swiss chard has rather bubbly leaves so cleaning them takes a little more effort than spinach but not much. I removed the stems from the leaves so I could just use the leaves, soaked them, and then boiled them with salt. After boiling I cooled the chard, squeezed it, chopped it, and tossed with salt, pepper, olive oil, and freshly squeezed lemon. Yummy!