Sunday, March 31, 2013

{FFWD} Lemon Steamed Spinach

Way back in 1929 there was a comic strip that introduced Popeye to the world. He gained popularity when  he hit the silver screen and the popularity continued to grow. I remember watching Popeye as a kid and I am sure that has to do with the cartoon that came out in 1978. Popeye.com has all the history you could want to know about this iconic figure! One thing I remember about the cartoon was Popeye popping those cans of spinach open and downing that yucky looking vegetable to make him strong. To be honest, even with that example, I had zero desire to eat canned spinach, or any spinach for that matter. To be even more honest I don't think I had ever actually bought spinach before this recipe called for it...unless I needed it for another recipe.

At the beginning of February I saw a post about Cook the Books: Asian Dumplings. I got the book at the library and had grand intentions of making several recipes and jumping in on the Cook the Books challenge. I even went to Bed, Bath, and Beyond and bought this nifty bamboo steamer basket with some of my Christmas money.

Time got away from me, I had to return the cookbook, and I still hadn't steamed anything. Luckily for me I had a recipe for French Fridays with Dorie that included only 3 ingredients: spinach, lemon zest, and olive oil.



I cannot tell you how excited I was to used this new contraption in my kitchen! I was a little confused because it did not come with directions but I was able to find several places online that gave some specifics. One person instructed to line the basket with lettuce leaves to prevent sticking. I figured since I was making spinach that I didn't need to line the basket.


I tossed the spinach and arugula mix into a bowl, zested the lemon, added the olive oil and a little salt and pepper. Before steaming, Munchkin and I kept snagging bites. Delicious! Just the zest and oil alone made this tasty.  The steaming part was incredibly easy in my bamboo steamer basket and it steamed the spinach perfectly.

Once this was steamed I asked for reviews from my 3 food critics. Munchkin loved it, my hubster said "it was much better than he expected it to be", and Little Man said "Why does spinach taste like leaves"?  I really liked this a lot and it think that it will make another appearance in the future. Gone are the days of thinking spinach is just slimy and from a can! Check out the LYL to see how other chefs around the world liked this recipe!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Cookies with Brother

I know I mentioned it is spring break around here but that is for the kiddos, not me. I still had to go teach a class. It was a fun class but it still meant I was away from my kiddos. My hubster was able to bring some work home and work on it on our limping along home computer. While he was working Munchkin and Little Man baked several dozen extra rich double chocolate cookies. I am sure that was not the actual title of the cookies but they were delicious! Did I mention my kiddos are 8 and 10? They rock! :) If they keep this up they will be food blogging before too long!

Monday, March 25, 2013

Spring Break 2013 and 4 Images

 It is spring break around these parts and we are not doing much. Last week we had lunch with friends at Chickfila. My sweet friend Beth and I spent 2 and half hours chatting and letting our far too large for the playground children play giants in the playground. I know, I know we were those moms. But, our kids are well behaved and don't go around knocking over tiny children on purpose. And if there had been little tiny kids in there we wouldn't have let them play in there anyway.

I have grand ideas of the things I would like to do on spring break like: head to the beach, fly to an exotic location, go to Disneyworld. But, alas, those things are not happening this spring break. My kiddos have been quite happy just staying home and playing together...for the most part. They are hoping for a blizzard. The snow flurries we have had the last day and half are just not cutting it.

I believe spring will be here soon!
 Last March June had an image a day challenge. This year she scaled back to 4 themes for the month and you could submit your images to her Art and Writing Facebook Page. The themes were: Practice, Inspiration, Belief, and Creativity. Thinking about the 4 themes was a little challenging to me but I think they stretched me and I think I got some fun pics to go along with each theme. This has also been part of my spring break fun. :)
The clouds inspired me to take this shot out of my window when I was stopped at a red light.

Practice makes perfect!


A simple shot of a blue jay in my tree that I got a little creative with.
Outside of sleeping in and staying in PJ's all day what do you do on spring break? I think we will have lunch with more friends this week. I also need to get a couple of runs in for half marathon training  Munchkin is practicing for solo and ensemble festival. Little man is playing with his toys and we are all reading a bunch. Maybe next spring break we will find someplace to put our toes in the sand. :)

Friday, March 22, 2013

{FFWD} Ispahan Loaf Cake

 Welcome back to another edition of French Fridays with Dorie where bakers around the world try out a new recipe and post about it. This week's recipe was Ispahan Loaf Cake. I do not know how to pronounce it but that is ok because I enjoyed eating it. I actually looked at this recipe several weeks ago, popped on Amazon to order rose syrup, added it to my cart, and promptly forgot to order it.

Last Thursday I started looking for rose syrup and rose extract. I live in a fairly diverse city so I thought I would have no problem tracking these items down. How wrong I was. Thursday I tried Trader Joes, Hobby Lobby, and a couple of International Markets. I found Rose Water and figured if I couldn't find the syrup I could make it myself. On Wednesday I got really serious about finding the rose extract and starting calling every hobby store, specialty grocery store, and cake decorating shop I could think of. I even went to the local health food store. I thought I was getting close when I called Whole Foods Body but their extract included Jojoba and was not to be taken internally. I called a cafe that was recommended to me who referred me to another international market about 40 minutes from me. It was already closing time though and the gentleman that answered the phone was very vague on whether they had the extract or not. He listed several that they did have but rose was not included in the list. At that point I was ready to give up the search.
Fast forward once more to today (Thursday). I have Grenadine in my pantry so I decided I would sub that for the rose extract. One friend on Facebook said that was a good substitution so I went with it.

Honestly, outside of the saga of trying to track down ingredients this was not a difficult recipe to make. Earlier this afternoon I made the rose syrup using this recipe. It was quite easy and made a ton of syrup. I poured some into one of my spare sauce jars and I think I will take it to my local coffee shop and see if they would like it. They will probably use it faster than I will.

In the past I have had a little trouble with diva eggs not wanting to whip. However, with my new mixer they whipped up just fine! There were quite a few steps: run the almond flour and powdered sugar through a sieve, add the rose syrup to the milk, whip the egg whites and put them in a separate bowl, beat the butter and almond mixture, add the egg yolks, add the milk and extract (grenadine in my case), fold in eggs and flour, put 1/3 of the batter in the prepared pan, put in 3 rows of raspberries, put in 1/3 of the batter, put in 3 rows of berries, put in rest of batter, and finally bake.

I checked on my cake after an hour and it was not cooked all the way through so I upped the temp to 325 and baked for about another 15 minutes. When I checked the second time it was finally cooked all the way through. I let it cool the recommended minutes and then inverted it onto the cooling rack. You were supposed to let it cool completely but I was too impatient after waiting all day to make the cake. Both kiddos tried this and loved it. I thought the rose taste was very mild and the crust was kind of angel foodish. I am sure if I had the actual rose extract the flavor would be slightly stronger. The texture was tender with a nice tight crumb. I have plenty of rose syrup so it is very likely I will be making this again in the near future. It really will be worth it. :) My sweet hubs asked where I got the roses. I told him Kroger; I needed them for a prop!

Don't forget to check out the LYL to see how other bakers around the world did with this recipe! A couple of people said it needed a sauce of some kind. We just did ice cream...not even homemade *gasp*! :)

Next week: Lemon Steamed Spinach

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Indulge me :)

If you read my blog, how did you find me, where are you from, and what kind of content would you like to see? Please leave a comment and let me know! :)

Sunday, March 17, 2013

{FFWD} Orange Scented Lentil Soup

One of these days I will post on time. :) This was a very simple yet extremely painful recipe for me to make. Why was it painful you ask? Well, I am training for a half marathon and yesterday was an 8 mile training run. I have been nursing an injury for the past two weeks so this was my first run back. I did the run/walk in an hour and 43 minutes but ended it with giant blisters on both feet. I pretty much felt like a zombie the rest of the day. I knew this recipe was not going to be too terribly difficult to put together though so I pulled myself off the couch by my bootstraps and got to work.
The recipe called for French green lentils. I managed to find some small whole green lentils at Trader Joes. I may have also found some chocolate covered butterscotch caramels but that is beside the point. :) After a good onion cry I put the onions and carrots in the pot to soften. I forgot to get celery so that did not go in the pot. After the veggies were softened all of the other ingredients went in the pot, were brought to a boil, and then simmered for 45 minutes.  I added salt and pepper and let the mixture simmer just a little bit longer.

Soups are always a little iffy with my fam. This particular soup got high praise from my hubs though! He said that the flavor was really good. He mentioned that soups like this tend to be bland and pasty so he was impressed that this tasted so good. I am sure part of it was the orange rind that made it taste so good. My daughter, of course, loved this soup. My son asked how many bites he had to eat. I really liked this too. Even better was how easy this was on a night when I didn't want to move at all. :)

A couple of days ago I saw a pin on Pinterest for these banana oatmeal cookies. In addition to the oats and bananas, I added chocolate chips and heath pieces. The kids liked these a lot. They were definitely easy and worth making with the almost too ripe bananas we had on hand. Now, I am off to find some rose extract for next weeks Isophan cake. :)

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Spam and Anchovies: Fulin's Edition

Beth, Leanne, me, and Vanessa

 As you know, I get together with some lovely ladies each month to cook. Well, cooking club really snuck up on all of us this month. There was some discussion about changing the format and trying out some new restaurants. When we started, way back in November of 2010 (Yes Vanessa, I had to go search my blog for that tidbit of information) we had everyone bring ingredients and we cooked the entire meal together. After about a year of that we decided we needed to be less hungry when we sat down to actually eat so we changed it to more of a pot luck format where the hostess chose the theme, selected the recipes, and made the main dish. Everyone else brought the rest of the dishes. Everyone seems extra busy now that it is 2013 hence the conversation about changing out format once again. It seems everyone is pretty happy with our current format but would be open to trying out some new restaurants as well. Since one of our lovely ladies was stuck peeing in a port a potty on a cub scout camping trip, two have infants, one was traveling, and one was home not feeling well, only four of us were left. So, since we were all in the mood for a little something of the Asian persuasion we decided to meet up at Fulin's Asian Cuisine.

Confession: I have never eaten good sushi so I am hesitant to actually try it. I did not try it last night either. Maybe next time. I got dumplings, Vanessa got chicken lettuce wraps, Leanne got sushi, and Beth got Kung Pao chicken. We pretty much closed the place down laughing and having a good time.

We missed all of our sweet ladies that were not with us last night and look forward to seeing all of them again next month. Maybe cooking club won't sneak up on us next month like it did this month. :)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Girls Overnight

My sweet daughter is closer to 11 than 10. She goes to public school, and reads like crazy. Bobby bought the two of us a LivingSocial deal almost a year ago for an hour long horseback riding lesson. So, since we wanted to use our deal and because it was a good time to get away and talk about girl stuff we also booked a hotel room. We were specifically looking for a hotel with an indoor pool since I knew Munchkin would want to swim. All of the hotels with indoor pools were expensive and did not include free breakfast. That is until we stumbled on Drury Plaza Hotel in Cool Springs. Don't get me wrong, it was still more expensive than we would normally choose but it included an indoor/outdoor pool, free breakfast, and free dinner with adult beverages should you want them. I figured we would have spent the equivalent on breakfast and dinner with a cheaper hotel. Munchkin and I got to the hotel a little bit early and were able to check in a few minutes before 3. We raced to our room and switched to our swim suits right away. We spent the next hour swimming back and forth between indoor and outdoor, splashing, and having fun in the pool. When we were sufficiently tired out we headed back to the room to change, have some mommy and daughter heart to heart talk time, and to get ready for dinner. For our heart to heart time we also had popcorn and free soda provided by the hotel.

 Dinner included pasta, meatballs, baked potatoes, cheddar broccoli soup, and salad. It was all serve yourself but the staff made sure everything was well stocked and they were really attentive. They even came by and picked up plates. Not something you really expect when you serve yourself. One of the first things that Munchkin loved was the elevator. Last year we had a membership to the Chattanooga Aquarium and one of Munchkin's favorite rooms is the jellyfish room. The elevator reminded her of that because the mirrors let her see herself hundreds of times just like the jellyfish room.
After dinner we tried to find a movie to watch but landed on a couple of episodes of Full House. Munchkin asked if it was filmed in the 80's because "it really looked like it". We finally decided to turn off the lights and go to sleep...and then decided it was time to read for a bit. Reading lasted for a little while and then we crashed in the super comfy king size bed. Aside from a couple of elbows to the face..in the giant bed...I slept well. 

In the morning we popped out of bed, packed up our bags, and headed down for breakfast. Munchkin was super excited to make her own waffle. I had some fresh made pancakes; the griddle was in the middle of everything so you could see them being made. I also had some scrambled eggs and grabbed a banana for later. Once breakfast was over it was time to head off to Crossroads Natural Horsemanship in Nolensville. We drove around twisty curves, saw cows and their calves, and finally found the gravel drive that led to the farm. We were greeted by two very sweet black labs that stuck around during the entire lesson. The lesson itself was really fun! We learned how to pick out hooves, brushed our horses, and learned how to saddle the horses. We also learned about the different types of saddles and some of the ways horses communicate. Josh Guin is the owner and was fantastic to learn from. We did stay in the ring while we rode but we spent some time trotting and getting our horses to do what we told them to. I would highly recommend checking out the lessons at his farm. He said Munchkin was a natural. She loves horses so I know she loved to hear that.


Munchkin and Josh, our teacher.
 You might be thinking this sounds like a perfect day and if it had ended here it would have been! It only got better as we were moved on from horseback riding to basketball. Munchkin's coach got tickets for her team to the Vanderbilt Men's game against South Carolina. We got there early and picked up our tickets and then had time to wander a little bit around the campus. Spring has definitely sprung around Vanderbilt!
 I had never been to a game at Memorial Gym and was pleasantly surprised by the set up. The floor is raised so you can see everything! Munchkin and I were able to stay until the first half was over. We then had to head out for a birthday party about 30 minutes away. We were a little bit late but just in time for cake! :)

 While Munchkin partied I went for a 2 mile walk/jog. I am training for the half marathon in April and have been nursing an injury for the last week and a half. I am pretty sore today after trying to ease back into training...I am hoping some of that is from the horseback riding though.

All in all this was a fantastic overnight with my sweet daughter. I highly recommend taking your child away when it is time to talk about everything. I hope that I am setting a solid foundation (and have been setting a foundation over the years) so any time she has questions she will come ask me. Now, I can't wait for the next time I get to take her on a mommy daughter overnight!

Monday, March 04, 2013

Sunset

This was tonight as I was leaving to teach a flute lesson. I thought the clouds were stunning with the light. :)

Friday, March 01, 2013

{FFWD} Chicken Diable

It is Friday and along with it comes a lovely French recipe from Dorie Greenspan's cookbook "Around My French Table". When I read the title of this recipe and realized devil was in it I thought this would be an extremely spicy recipe. However, the recipe calls for dijon mustard, which is not all that spicy. That is good for a girl who suffers from heartburn at the smell of something spicy.

I made this Wednesday night just before I was about to run out and teach a flute lesson. It was really quite easy to put together. After browning the chicken on both sides you were to take them out of the pan and put them in the warm oven under a foil tent. I didn't have time for that though so they ended up on the counter next to me....it was just one extra step and I was in a hurry. I put the garlic and shallot in the pan and immediately burned the shallots. I guess since I used dried instead of chopping my own the shallot just turned dark brown right away. That was OK though because it didn't taste bad.

I know, I know, I have cheapy ingredients pictured but they worked well for what I needed. The sauce came together quickly and instead of pouring the sauce over the chicken I just put the chicken back in the pan and covered it with the sauce that way.

This was a recipe that all of us loved! It was easy and one that my family said they would definitely eat again. I served this with Lemon Steamed Spinach (which will be another post this month). The dinner quote of the night though goes to my son who said "Mommy, why is spinach made out of leaves"? Silly boy! :)

Make sure to take a look at the LYL to see how other cooks around the world did liked this recipe. You can also cook along if you get the cookbook! :) Happy cooking!