Cake, Card And A Candle Tradition

Yesterday started out like a normal day.

By the time I realized I was awake, I was standing in Target with bed-head and a holey Roll Tide t-shirt trying to decide between the gray and white lampshades.

Lamps At Target

The earbuds were blasting Katy Perry directly to my brain.

Next thing I know, I’m sitting at our friend’s house having brunch.

I should listen to Katy Perry more often.

My friend is the gourmet chef type.  Food is always delicious and presentation is outstanding.  I knew this before yesterday, so why the heck did I leave my camera at home?

Maybe I shouldn’t listen to Katy Perry more often.

Check out this brunch-a-munch.

Brunch-A-Munch

It tasted as good as it looks.

The only thing missing from this picture is the Canon.

After brunch we head back to our home on a ranch.

Where pregnant heifers stand in 100 degree heat thinking about a big glass of ice water.

And not being pregnant in 100 degree heat.

Pregnant Heifers

It may be a well known fact that I spend at least 5 hours every day taking a deep breath in search of patience I thought I had. 5 minutes of each day being grateful for living.   [Read more...]

How To Cut A Melon

This is a true story, I’m sure of it.

I heard from a friend who heard from a friend that a lady was at the supermarket asking a clerk to cut up the watermelon she was buying.

This poor woman is probably a mom who has no time to watch cooking shows.

Before I had kids, I thought I was tired.  At least I had time and energy to watch TV and cutting a melon is a technique I learned from Alton Brown.

I love Alton Brown.

Who else can teach a science lesson at every meal?

Alton rocks.

Or perhaps this woman does not own a sharp knife.  Which is my #1 requirement for cutting anything in the kitchen.

Especially melons.

Sharp Knife Cutting WatermelonIf my knife can cut through a super-ripe tomato without leaving an indention on the skin it is a sharp knife.

Any knife not to this standard is cast away to the knife boneyard that I will someday repurpose to teach my girls the fine art of knife throwing.

Important life skills, you know.

Once you have that sharp knife than can cut through a ripe tomato without a single impression, you’re ready to sink the blade into one end of the melon, turning the melon in a circular motion until the piece falls off.

Once both ends are chopped off, stand the melon on one end.

How To Cut A MelonOn this melon, I had a hunch that something was not right in the center, so I cut down the middle.

Usually, I do this step *after* cutting the rind.  Six one way, half-a-dozen the other.

Next I cut slivers from top to bottom working my way around the melon.

How To Cut A Melon [Read more...]

Not So Stuffed Mushrooms – Vegan Style

A while back I saw a recipe for Stuffed Mushrooms in a Vegan cookbook.  Yesterday I found myself at the market, without a clue on what to cook for dinner.  I saw Stuffer Mushrooms, and decided I would wing it without a recipe or an ingredient list.

This is way out of my comfort zone.  I usually consult books, the internet, and even read all reviews of recipes before I commit to making something.  And sometimes it is still a huge disappointment!

At the supermarket, I started thinking about ingredients for Stuffed Bell Peppers, and thought that reversing the ingredients might be a safe bet.  When I realized I could serve with Panko Crumbs, I was sold (yes, I am still lovin’ Panko Crumbs!).

Beyond that, I didn’t have a plan.  To make things more interesting, we were having company over for dinner!  I’ve had enough dish flops in my day to know that this is a bad combo.

There’s been LOTS of times I’ve tossed food in the trash and we went out to eat :-( but I sure didn’t want to do that with our guests!

Here’s the dish on my Not So Stuffed Mushrooms.

Not So Stuffed Mushrooms - Vegan Style

How long it takes

About 1 hour.

Here’s the breakdown:

5-10 minutes to prep/chop veggies

20-30 minutes to sauté veggies

20 minutes to bake Stuffed Mushrooms

2 minutes to sprinkle Panko Crumbs on top

20 SECONDS to brown Panko Crumbs

Ingredients

(2) Green Bell Peppers

(2) Yellow or White Onion

(2) 14-ounce containers of Stuffer Mushrooms

(1) Can Aduki Beans – Only using 1/2 the can (The same beans used in the Chinese desert “Red Bean”)

Basil, Parsley, Italian Herbs, Garlic (packaged herbs for this one)

Salt & Pepper

Panko Crumbs

Dried Italian Seasoning

Garlic Powder

[Read more...]

Wok’s For Dinner?

I’ve been spyin’ woks for a long time.  Ever since I started thinking about converting a roasting pan into a skillet and using two burners. (yikes!)

(In the kitchen) size does matter.  I mean, 10 inches just. wasn’t. enough.  What can I say, I’m hard to please.

So when I spotted this 14-inch American stainless steel copper-core wok, I knew he was the one.  The shiny rivets, the strong arm, the cute copper trim.  What’s not to love?  And I love.

14 Inches Of Love

He found his rightful place on the cooktop, and we’ve been making sweet stir-frys ever since.

Do you ever look at the calm oil in the pan and wonder when it’s just right?  I sacrifice a small piece of whatever I’m cooking, and wait to hear the sizzle.

It’s always just right.

Hear The Sizzle?

I give the onions some alone time–just long enough to let them start browning, then I add the green beans.

Green Beans And Onions

Green beans are finicky little boogers.  They start out so crispy.  We would be here all day in the pan if they didn’t have a little help from a lid and a few tablespoons of water. [Read more...]

Good Eats Gone Bad – Don’t Try This At Home

In the spirit of keeping it real.  Let’s talk about dinner disasters.

First, these simple facts:  I enjoy cooking and I like trying new recipes.  Even when the meal turns out bad, which they all-too-often do, I still learn from the process.

So.  Last night, The Hub was working late.  Again.  I had already planned this yummy meal, went to the market for all the stuff, and mentally prepared myself for the 1 hour and 45 minute investment to make Red Lentils with Rice and Pita Crisps.

Things started out great.  I get onions.  I know onions.  I cook onions at almost every meal.  I even (accidentally) poisoned the dog with onions.  The Hub flinches at the $800 vet bill.  I want to cry thinking about the fact that my poor little fur-ball almost died.  Really.  She was 2 blood count points from a blood transfusion. Yikes!

Back to the onions.

Chopped in circles.

Onion Circles

Roasted to perfection.  Of course.

Roasted Deliciousness

The lentils had a good start.  Or so I thought.  In hindsight, this may have been where Good Eats turned into Good Eats Gone Bad.

1 Cup Means 1 Cup

* * *Post edit:

As I was proof-reading this before hitting “publish”, I realized that I put way too many lentils in the cup.  I wonder if this was the problem?

[Read more...]

Cauliflower Steaks – Vegan Style

In a perfect world I would be Vegan.  In my own kitchen, I get sort of close.  Sometimes.

Cauliflower Steaks Roasted To Perfection

Adzuki Bean Quinoa

Hubby-Chocolate Cake

My Healthy Twist On Hubby-Chocolate Cake

I’ve slowly transitioned to a mostly Vegan diet over the past few years.  However, I am an American, living in America.  I have yet to master eating Vegan when I leave my own kitchen.

As far as a Vegan diet is concerned, restaurants are bad and kid-activities are the worst.

[Read more...]

Cooking with Stainless Steel

Happy June, People.

My kids donned rain boots and grabbed umbrellas for some fun in the rain.  Or mist, as it were.

Rainy Summer Day

Here on the west coast, rain in June is just plain weird.  More weird than day-time high temps in the 50′s.  Yikes!

We spent the morning at ballet rehearsal, a quick lunch, then naps for kiddos.  What is a mom to do when 4PM rolls around, it’s raining and cold outside, and there’s nothing to make for dinner?

Surrounded by hungry people.  We have breakfast of course!

Hungry Little Hands

Have you tried Stainless Steel Cookware?

All-Clad is my favorite cookware, and this happens to be my favorite (most used) piece.

All-Clad Copper Core Sauté Pan, 4-Qt Source: Williams-Sonoma

[Read more...]