Friday, October 31, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Penne With Popped Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Onions

Happy Halloween!  I'm terribly excited to see all the little ghosts and goblins out tonight.  We're still trying to work out the details about how we're going to trick or treat and hand out candy.   How do you do it?

Then again, we're completely unprepared for what this new neighborhood will bring in terms of trick or treaters anyway.  One neighbor told us they get lots of trick or treaters.  The other said it varies from year to year.  So we'll see.

In the meantime, I leave you with the final recipe from Trail of Crumbs.  One last midnight pasta.  This one, with the dark tapenade and charred tomatoes.  Seems fitting for a dark and spooky night.

Penne with Popped Tomatoes, Anchovies, and Onions (from Trail of Crumbs)
1 to 2 Tbsp olive oil
1 pint ripe cherry or grape tomatoes
salt and pepper
pinch of sugar
1 onion, sliced
2 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
hot red pepper flakes
4 to 5 anchovy filets
1 tsp black olive tapenade
1/2 lb penne

  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add tomatoes and cook, tossing often, about 10 minutes.  Cover and cook 3 minutes.
  2.  Uncover, season with salt and pepper and a pinch of sugar.
  3. Add onion, toss, and cook about 2 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, red pepper flakes, anchovies, and olives.  Lower heat.
  5. Cook penne in salted boiling water just until al dente.  Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup pasta water.
  6. Add reserved pasta to skillet with tomatoes.  Toss in pasta and heat about 1 minute, adding some of reserved pasta water if too dry.  Toss to combine.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Spaghetti with Zucchini, Mint, and Pine Nuts

It's no secret I've been complaining about our late summer for weeks now.  The plus side of the unusually warm weather means that we've still been able to enjoy beach days with friends.

Thatbaby loves going into the ocean, but his friends were a little more hesitant.  They did enjoy jumping and splashing in a big hole we filled with water.  And sharing snacks.

And squirting each other with water guns, squirters, and buckets of water. 

Thatbaby tried to teach Lexus about the joys of splashing in the waves.  She taught him the beauty of sunbathing.

So even though I whine and moan, I do make lemonade out of lemons. 

Tonight's "Midnight Pasta" is perfect for after a beach day.  It's quick, which is important, because the sun just saps your energy.  The zucchini and mint also make it feel cool and fresh.  And summery.  Even in the fall.

Spaghetti with Zucchini, Mint, and Pine Nuts (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 Tbsp olive oil
1 shallot, sliced
2 small zucchini, cut lengthwise and sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 tsp hot red pepper flakes
1/2 lb spaghetti
2 Tbsp mint leaves
1/2 cup Parmigiano Reggiano
1/3 cup toasted pine nuts

  1. Heat oil in large skillet on medium heat.  Add shallot and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  2.  Add zucchini and cook about 5 minutes.
  3. Season with salt and pepper.
  4. Add red pepper flakes.
  5. Cook spaghetti in salted boiling water just until al dente.  Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup pasta water.
  6. Add pasta to the skillet with shallots and zucchini.  Heat about 1 minute, adding some of reserved pasta water if too dry.
  7. Remove from heat, add mint, half of the Parmigiano-Reggiano, and half of the pine nuts.  Toss to combine.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Spaghetti with Pancetta Cream

I mentioned yesterday that we carved pumpkins over the weekend, so I thought I would backtrack and tell you a little bit about the picking of said pumpkins.  Our pumpkin patch visit!

We actually had to institute the "you have to be able to carry it" rule when Thatbaby wanted the biggest pumpkins he could find.

We also instituted the "one pumpkin only" rule when he attempted to take home every pumpkin he could carry.

We relented a little on that last rule, and let him take home two.

And we also gave in on his request to go on a hay ride.  Which he really liked.  Except for the pokey hay part.  Good thing I had a nice, soft, non-hay filled lap for him to sit on.

And a close up of our finished products - I did the carving on Thatbaby's but I let him design it.  He requested "circle eyes" a "rocket ship nose" and an "airplane mouth."

I ended up going the ghost route.

Thatboy was inspired by the weird lumps and scars on his pumpkin and used it to create a brainy monster.

Trail of Crumbs last 3 recipes are all versions of "Midnight pasta" - pasta made after late nights out.  Midnight pasta sounds perfect for Halloween, doesn't it?  Well, at least it sounds spookier than it is.  Really, they're just very quick pasta dishes (that make liberal use of red pepper flakes.)

Spaghetti with Pancetta and Cream (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 tsp olive oil
5 oz pancetta
1 onion, thinly sliced
red pepper flakes
1/2 lb spaghetti
2 to 3 Tbsp creme fraiche
2 egg yolks
1 cup parmigiano-reggiano
  1. Heat olive oil in a large skillet on medium heat.  Add pancetta and cook, about 6 minutes, until beginning to crisp but not burn.
  2. Add onion, black pepper, and hot red pepper flakes.  Stir and cook about 2 minutes.
  3. Cook spaghetti in salted boiled water just until al dente.  Drain, reserving about 1/4 cup pasta water.
  4. Add pasta to skillet with onions and pancetta. 
  5. Whisk together creme fraiche, egg yolks, and 1/2 cup parmigiano-reggiano.
  6. Toss into pasta and stir, adding some of reserved pasta water if too dry.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Chicken in Vin Jaune with Morels and Creme Fraiche

Happy Halloween week my friends!  We spent all weekend decorating.  We started a couple weeks back, when Thatboy built and painted our tombstones.  That's right, tombstones.  Growing up, Thatdad always turned our front yard into a graveyard for Halloween, and it's a tradition I wanted to start up too.  Now that we have a front yard.

Saturday morning Thatboy painted the epitaphs on the stones while Thatbaby and I carved his pumpkins. 

Sunday morning, we got to decorating.  After we had the tombstones set up, I felt we needed a little something more.  So we introduced a new friend to keep an eye on them.  Thatbaby named him Jack. 

Thatbaby also had picked out a giant spider a couple weeks ago he really wanted to use in decorating the house.  After Thatboy hung it from a tree, I got inspired to create a spider infestation. 

I'm not letting the fact that it's still summer-hot out get me out of the Halloween spirit.  I'm going to keep acting like it's fall until Mother Nature finally gets the hint.  It's time for cooler weather!  Slow cooked dinners!  Mushrooms and roasted potatoes!

Join me in pretending that fall has arrived and hopefully it'll be here just in time for Halloween this Friday!

Chicken in Vin Jaune with Morels and Creme Fraiche (From Trail of Crumbs)
2 cups dried morel mushrooms
1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces
salt and pepper
1 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 to 3 shallots, diced
2 cups vin jaune or dry sherry
8 oz creme fraiche

  1. Rinse morels in cold water, then place in a bowl and pour hot water over.  Let soak and plump, about 15 minutes.
  2. Season chicken with salt, peppr, and nutmeg.
  3. Heat butter and oil in a large heavy bottom pot on medium high heat.  Add chicken and let brown, turning once, about 10 minutes.  Remove chicken to a plate and reserve.
  4. Add shallots to pan and cook 1 minute.
  5. Add wine and bring to a boil.
  6. Reduce heat to medium high and let cook, uncovered, scraping bottom of pan with a spoon, about 10 minutes or until liquid is reduced by half.
  7. Remove morels from liquid, being careful to leave behind any grit.  Add morels to pot, stir in creme fraiche and add reserved chicken.
  8. Cover and let cook another 5 minutes or until chicken is cooked through.
  9. Taste sauce and add more salt and pepper as needed.  Serve warm over rice or with roasted potatoes.


Monday, October 27, 2014

Mommy Mondays: Picky Picky

Well I would love to tell you that at the age of 3, or sometime before that children magically become less picky eaters, but so far, in my experience this hasn't happened.

I've spoken a little bit before about how we handle eating in this house, but it's one of those subjects that should be updated.

As usual breakfast is our best "meal."  Thatbaby eats a full breakfast.  Which could be due to the fact that he's completely in control.  It's the only meal that he gets to pick.  Cereal, cereal bars, oatmeal, yogurt, it's his choice.  Although I do have a "pancakes on the weekend" rule that rarely comes in to play. 

His lunch is provided by his preschool, and most days he claims to eat all of his lunch, although there are days he'll tell me he didn't eat his sandwich, just the peaches.  There are, however, also days he claims to have eaten his salad, which doesn't usually happen at home.  On the weekends, he's hit or miss with lunch.  Sometimes eating all of it, other times just having a bite or two.  I think it depends on how tired he is.

Dinners are still our biggest struggle.  Between the picky eating (last night he decided he didn't like bacon any more) and the fact that it takes him a full hour to finish his meal.  But we try and just roll with it.  With one exception, when last week he asked for leftover pork instead of stromboli, I serve dinner, and if he eats it, he eats it.  If he doesn't, he doesn't.  Over the weekend he had virtually no dinner when he decided he didn't like the sesame noodles we were having.  On the other hand, he's beginning to venture out more, like asking for salad whenever Thatboy and I have it with dinner.

If Thatbaby had his druthers, he'd be on a straight snack diet.  That is his favorite thing to eat.  He loves to open "the brown thing" (the pantry) and pick something out.  Which could also factor in to the lack of appetite for lunches and dinners!   I've been reading about making "snack areas" for kids to grab their own pre-portioned snacks and I'm thinking of implementing that, so I'll keep you updated on how that goes.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday Runday: Surfing Madonna

I ran the Surfing Madonna 5k last year and the entire time thought how much Thatboy and Thatbaby would enjoy it.  Because it's on the beach and the entire atmosphere celebrates the beach and the water.  Plus, a race on the beach meant a lot of room for Thatbaby to stretch his legs and run.  I didn't have to worry too much about the course.

So this year I signed us all up for the race!  Because the race runs at low tide, the race started at 2pm.  Which I thought was great, because it meant we didn't have to get up early to run it.   And then I realized that was smack dab during Thatbaby's nap time.  Perfect.

So we did an early lunch and tucked Thatbaby into the car, where we knew he would fall asleep.  The problem was, he was enjoying a really good nap.  So good, that he didn't want to wake up at 1:30pm.  He was in a royally bad mood.  Although he had been looking forward to the race for weeks, all of a sudden he didn't want to run it.  And when we lined up at the start he whined every 3 minutes "why aren't we running?"  And when it did start, he didn't actually want to run, he just wanted to be carried.

The course followed the same route as last time, up the beach for a mile, turn around and back for a mile and a half, and then another turn around for the last .6 miles.  Shortly before the first turn around, Thatbaby decided he was ready to run.

This was my first time running a race with Thatbaby, as opposed to pushing him in  a stroller or wagon.  It was fun to hold hands and race with him.  He loves running with me otherwise, but there aren't very many places where it is conducive to do so, so this was the perfect venue.

It was a warm day, we're having an unseasonable October, so it should be no surprise that Thatbaby alternated between running with me and riding Thatboy's shoulders.  But we made it the whole 3.1 miles!  And crossed the finish as a family.

Thatbaby was super proud of his medal.  And the surfboard keychain he got from one of the vendors after.

I do love how family friendly this event is.  There's even a kid's race, which we didn't participate in because of nap.  A big race perk for me was there were Cliff Mojo bars being handed out on the course and at the finish.  Thatbaby was complaining about being hungry the entire time, so having little granola bars available kept him happier on the course.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Cream of Chestnut Soup

I am so happy it's Friday.  I know you understand.  And I feel like this every week.  Because Friday means I (usually) have two days where I don't have to put out fires.  Or deal with ridiculously complicated situations that pop up.   I always imagine the weekend means I'll have time for myself, and even though that rarely happens, the fantasy persists.

This weekend we're prepping for Halloween!  Decorating the house, watching movies, carving pumpkins.  It's my most favorite time of year.  Along with the seasonal food that comes along with it.  

I wrote earlier that Kim Sunee uses chestnuts a lot in the book, often in ways I'm not accustomed to.   This is a recipe that I can get behind though.  Chestnut soup.  So perfectly autumnal, right?  Doesn't it just sound like something you would serve at Thanksgiving? 

The soup is sweet, a combination of the roasting of the chestnuts and the creme de marrons.  And with the warmth, it really brings to memories those street-corner roasted chestnuts.

Cream of Chestnut Soup (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 tsp olive oil
2 shallots, chopped
1 apple, peeled, cored, and chopped
14 oz roasted chestnut
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 to 4 sprigs thyme
1 quart chicken broth
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 to 2 tsps creme de marrons 
  1. Heat olive oil in large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add shallots and apple and cook, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add chestnuts, salt, pepper, and thyme.  Stir and let cook about 1 minute.
  3. Add broth and bring to a boil, skimming fat as it rises.  Reduce heat to medium low and let cook about 25 minutes or until chestnut and apple are tender.  Remove from heat.
  4. Remove thyme sprigs and discard.  Using a slotted spoon, transfer chestnut, apple, and shallot to blender nad puree until smooth.
  5. Add a little broth if too thick.  Pour back into the soup pot.  Heat to low. 
  6. Stir in cream.
  7. Stir in creme de marrons.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: La Daube Provencale

This is not a weeknight meal.  This is a hang home all day and let things simmer kind of meal. Which is one of my favorite kinds.  Because it means I get to be home all day.  And that rarely happens.  Last weekend we had an uncharacteristically empty weekend.  Just a birthday party Saturday morning.

And yet, somehow we ended up going to a pumpkin patch, getting Thatbaby's hair cut, running some errands, painting tombstones and attending a street fair.  You know, your basic do-nothing weekend.

I much prefer the weekends where I can hang out at home with my family, smelling the wafting scent of marinated beef cooking and listening to the little bubbles popping as it gets softer and more tender over the hours.

Red wine adds depth and complexity to this relatively simple dish, and the orange adds a new flavor element.  Sunee adds tapenade to thicken it, but I didn't find it to really add anything.  Served over polenta, it's the perfect way to end a lazy day at home.  If those actually happened.

La Daube Provencale (From Trail of Crumbs)
3 lbs beef chuck
3 medium onions, quartered
3 to 4 carrots, cut lengthwise and cut into thirds
bouquet garni
3 cups dry red wine
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 slices thick cut bacon, diced
1/3 cup flour
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
3 to 4 garlic cloves, smashed and coarsely chopped
1 orange
1 1/2 to 2 cups beef stock
2 to 3 Tbsp black olive tapenade

  1. Combine beef and 2 of the onions and next 3 ingredients in large bowl.  Let marinate 5 to 6 hours.
  2. Heat bacon on medium high in a large heavy-bottom pot about 5 minutes.
  3. Place flour in a shallow bowl.
  4. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Remove beef with a slotted spoon and drain well.
  6. Lightly dredge beef chunks in flour, adding a little more flour, as needed.
  7. Add beef to pot and let brown, turning occasionally, about 8 minutes.
  8. Add remaining onion and let cook about 5 minutes.
  9. Add salt, pepper, garlic, and a strip of orange rund, and stir.
  10. Add reserved wine marinade (reserve onions, carrots, and bouquet garni)  Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium high and let wine reduce, skimming fat, about 15 minutes.
  11. Add 1 1/2 to 2 cups beef stock or water, stir.
  12. Add reserved onion, carrot, and bouquet garni.  Stir and cover pot and let cook on low heat about 3 1/2 to 4 hours. 
  13. Remove orange rind and bouquet garni and discard.
  14. Zest remaining orange and add to pot.
  15. Squeeze juice from the orange, add to pot and stir.  Let cool, cover and refrigerate overnight.
  16. Heat on medium to warm before serving and stir in tapenade.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Gratin de Salsify

If I learned one thing from my experience introducing Thatboy and Thatbaby to vegetables it's that everything is better gratin-ized.

If I learned two things, it would be that bacon gets most people to like vegetables.

These are two very important rules to keep in mind when you are embarking on a new adventure with a new vegetable.  Which is why I was only a little scared when I saw this recipe for salsify.  Salsify is a new one for me, and not an especially attractive vegetable, since it looks like a stick.

Sunee says that this is a twist on a Belgian dish using endives and ham.  Between you and I, I think I might like that version better, based on my experience with celery gratin.  But this wasn't bad, which is to be expected when you have a vegetable wrapped in prosciutto and buried in a cheesy creamy sauce.

Gratin de Salsify (From Trail of Crumbs)
4 to 5 stalks salsify, trimmed, peeled, and rinsed
2 to 3 lemon slices
2 to3 bay leaves
1/2 to 1/2 tsp salt
6 to 8 cups chicken broth
1 1/2 to 2 cups Mornay sauce
12 slices prosciutto

  1. Preheat oven to 350.  Cut salsify into 4 inch pieces.
  2. Combine salsify and next 3 ingredients in a large pot.
  3. Add enough chicken broth or water to cover.  Bring to a boil and let cook about 8 minutes or until salsify is tender but not mushy.  Gently remove salsify with a slotted spoon and let cool.
  4. Spoon a third of the mornay sauce in bottom of a baking dish.
  5. Wrap each salsify with prosciutto and place seam side down on top of sauce in baking dish.
  6. Cover with remaining mornay sauce.
  7. Top with grated cheese and a crack of fresh pepper.  Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until top is golden and bubbly.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: French Fry Po-Boy with Horseradish Creme Fraiche

Certain areas are known for certain food specialties.  In San Diego, it's Fish Tacos and Carne Asada fries.   When I lived outside of Pittsburgh, it was pierogies and Primanti Brothers sandwiches.  What separates a Primanti Brothers sandwich from elsewhere is the inclusion of french fries, IN the sandwich.  For the first 30something years of my life, I was under the impression it was a specialty unique to Western PA.  It's a genius idea, but really, who needs french fries sandwiched between bread?  Crazy midwesterners, that's who.

But in reading Trail of Crumbs, Sunee introduced me to the Southern variation.  New Orleans is known for a variety of food specialties too, including the "Po-Boy"  (which is one of Thatboy's favorites) a sandwich on a french baguette.  Typically I've had po-boys filled with meat, or shrimp, but according to Sunee, french fries are also a traditional choice.   She speaks of bars that had these delivered to patrons, and really, that makes sense too.  What sounds better after a night of drinking than french fries, slathered with horseradish cream, between a buttery french roll?

French Fry Po-Boy with Horseradish Creme Fraiche (From Trail of Crumbs)
2 large yukon gold potatoes
1 cup canola oil
sea salt
fresh-ground black pepper
1/2 cup creme fraiche
1 Tbsp mayonnaise
1 tsp lemon juice
1 Tbsp horseradish
hot sauce
1 loaf french bread

  1. Peel potatoes then cut lengthwise into quarter-inch-thick sticks.  Rinse potatoes in several changes of cold water.  Drain in a colander, spread cut potatoes in a single layer on several paper towels, and pat very dry.
  2. Heat oil in a large heavy skillet over moderate heat until it begins to shimmer.  Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 200 degrees.  Once oil is ready, fry potatoes, turning occasionally, about 6-7 minutes per batch, until golden.  Transfer fries with a slotted spoon to a baking pan lined with several layers of dry paper towels.
  3. Sprinkle fries with salt and pepper and keep warm in oven.
  4. Combine creme fraiche, mayonnaise, lemon juice and horseradish in a small bowl. 
  5. Season with salt to taste.
  6. Add a few dashes of hot sauce, if desired.  
  7. Pile onto french bread.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Mommy Mondays: The Third Birthday

When we originally started thinking about Thatbaby's birthday, we thought perhaps Dinosaur Train would be the way to go.  And then started the obsession with Shrek.  

It happened right before we moved.  He was home sick and I popped on the movie, since we surprisingly own few child-friendly movies.  But Thatdad and I had a thing about Shrek, so I owned almost the entire series, up until the one that came out after he died.   And we watched them.  All of them.  Over and over again.  Thatbaby loved Shrek and everything about it.  He literally watched it every day.

So it only made sense for him to have a Shrek-themed birthday party, so we invited our guests to join us at the Swamp.

Which meant turning our home into a swamp.  Thatboy took this as his cue to stop mowing our lawn so everything would be overgrown and swamp-like.  I kind of thought decorating the driveway would be enough.

It ended up being a bigger thing than I was expecting.  So we spread out our dirt, reeds, lily pads.  Hung swampy nets and scattered moss.  Set up a fog machine and a soundtrack of fog noises.

After our guests made it through the swamp, they were greeted at the gate with a warning.

Although what they saw when they entered the yard didn't really need that kind of a warning.

The kids spent a lot of their time in the bounce house, but of course we had refreshments for both Thatbaby's friends and their families.

I got completely swamped once the guests arrived, so I didn't have time to take a picture of the completed table, but the menu included:

Swamp Rat Skewers - chicken tender skewers

In The Morning We're Having Waffle (Fries) - Waffle Fries

Fish Eye Stew - Yogurt Bar

Ogres Are Like Onions (Dip) - Veggies and Onion Dip

Swamp Balls -  Green Cheese Balls (courtesy of Halloween at Target)


Swamp Water - Water

Fuzzy Navels For All My Friends - peach nectar, orange juice, and sparkling water

We sent the kids home with little goodie bags, filled with gifts from the Fairy Godmother (Happiness is Just a Tear Drop Away bubbles), Shrek (Shrek ears), and Gingy (Gingerbread Cookies).

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Sunday Runday: CHOC Walk

I've got a soft spot for children and Disney.  Put the two of them together, and well, you have a sweet deal.  Which is why every year when I get the notification for the annual CHOC (Children's Hospital of Orange County) Walk I donate a little something.

The theory of the walk warms my heart.  Disneyland opens its doors and CHOC's children, their families, and supporters.  The walk itself is filled with shirts proclaiming the names and ages of children who passed through its doors, and some who passed beyond. 

I've been donating since before Thatbaby was born.  But now that he's 3, and actually might get something out of Disneyland, I thought participating in the walk would be a good introduction for him.  And then we could spend the day in Disneyland after.

I told my family that we were doing the walk, and everyone wanted to join in.  So early last Sunday morning, we all met up in the Mickey and Friends parking lot (Coincidentally.  We were supposed to meet at Downtown Disney but ended up parking right behind Thatbrother.)

To say this walk was popular would be an understatement.  It was wall to wall people.  So much so that it took us almost an hour to actually enter the park.  And once inside, you could barely move as people shuffled along slowly.  Pushing two strollers through this madness was exactly what Thatbrother and I would call a nightmare.  I have to say, I adore my brother so much because of our similarities.  It's nice to have someone to grouse with as you try to steer past hundreds of people who aren't moving.

On the plus side, Thatbaby got to see so much of the parks.  We were only planning on visiting Disneyland that day, but because of the walk, we got to visit California Adventure too.  Which was especially exciting because that's where Lightning McQueen lives.

It also had gotten much lighter in flow of people by the time we got to California Adventure, which meant we had some breathing room and could enjoy ourselves more.  But we were also tired by that point because this little 5k was nearing hour 2.

The other good part of the walk was that he got to see so many characters.  Some he knew, some he didn't.  He got up close and personal with Minnie and was thoroughly impressed with Sleeping Bue-lee and the fact she had a castle right there.  The one complaint I had was that the big mouse himself was no where to be found.  Really?  No Mickey?  I had one really disappointed kid.

In general, the walk was overwhelming and disappointing for me.  With the crowds and lack of organization (and Mickey) I think we'll go back to just donating instead of participating.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Kimchi Soup

When you have a child, you inevitably hope that some of your best attributes get passed on to them.  "I hope he has your kindness."  "I hope he has my sense of humor."  

Inevitably though, you also pass on some of your less best attributes.  It appears I have passed on my faulty tonsils to Thatbaby as we are dealing with his second round of strep throat since September.  That's once a month, for those of you bad with math.  Exacerbated by the fact that we discovered he has a Penicillin allergy during the last go-around.

As a child, I had strep throat so often that I ended up having to get those faulty tonsils removed.  And if Thatbaby continues on this path, I forsee a similar future for him.  For now, it's time to stock the fridge with ice cream, orange juice, and soups.

Personally, although Thatbaby didn't appreciate it, I think this Kimchi soup is perfect for sick days.  The ginger, garlic, and kick of the kimchi helps to clear up sinuses.  And of course, soup just slides right now sore throats.  Plus leafy greens are great for iron - and just ask Popeye what that does for you.

Kimchi Soup (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 tsp peanut or vegetable oil
 1 1/2 to 2 lbs boneless pork butt or shoulder, trimmed of fat and cut into chunks
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
3 to 4 cloves garlic
2 tsp fresh grated ginger
6 cups chicken stock
2 to 3 cups kimchi
4 green onions
  1. Heat oil in a large dutch oven or soup pot over medium high heat.  Season pork with 1/2 tsp salt and add to pot.  Let pork brown 8 minutes.
  2. Add garlic and ginger and stir.
  3. Add stock, stir, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium low.  Skim fat as it starts to simmer and froth.
  4. Add 1 to 2 cups kimchi, stir, and let simmer 1 1/2 to 2 hours until pork is fork tender.
  5. Stir in the green onions and remaining kimchi.  Taste and add more salt, as needed.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Chicken Thighs with Cinnamon and Dates

I will probably always prefer white meat.  For years I refused to eat dark meat - thighs, legs, wings.  All I wanted was the breast.  It's not the worst thing in the world, chicken and turkey breast are healthier than their counterparts.

But I was missing out. 

Over the past couple of years I've come to embrace the dark side.  Chicken thighs especially.  They're so much better for slow cooking.  Both in the slow cooker, and for things like braising.  The bring a richer flavor to a dish that chicken breasts just don't.  And I love the way they fall apart, so tender!

I really liked this dish because of the combination of the chicken and sausage.  For me, that such a Cajun thing - Jambalaya, gumbo.  There's nothing Cajun about this dish.  With the dates and cinnamon it seems much more...North African?  I don't know, I just keep thinking of Morocco.  Sunee even suggest making this in a tangine.  It works just fine in a dutch oven, so if you're tangine-less, like I am, don't let it deter you. 

Chicken Thighs with Cinnamon and Dates (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 tsp olive oil
2 sausage links
6 to 8 skinless chicken thighs
1 1/4 tsp salt, divided
3/4 tsp pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced
3 garlic cloves, smashed and chopped
1 Tbsp fresh grated ginger
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp hot paprika
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 cup orange juice
1/3 cup golden raisins or currants
2-3 carrots, cut lengthwise and halved on the bias
1 orange, cut into 8 wedges
12-15 dates, pitted
2-3 Tbsp chopped cilantro

  1.  Preheat oven to 350. Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large ovenproof pan or Dutch oven.  Cut sausage links into halves or thirds, depending on length, removing casings if desired.  Add sausage and chicken to pot in one layer.
  2. Sprinkle with half salt and pepper.  Let cook about 5 minutes.  Turn meat over, season with remaining salt and pepper and let cook 5 minutes more.  Remove chicken to a plate.
  3. Add onion to pot and let cook 5 minutes.
  4. Add garlic, ginger, cinnamon, cumin, and paprika.  Stir and let cook about 3 minutes.
  5. Add chicken broth and orange juice, raisins, and carrots, and stir.
  6. Place chicken and sausage back in pot.
  7. Add orange wedges and dates.
  8. Stir, cover, and bake for about 1 hour 30 minutes, or until chicken and carrots are fork tender.
  9. Top with cilantro and serve with hot buttered couscous and harissa paste.

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Trail of Crumbs: Tipsy Melon with Prosciutto

We are all creatures of habit.  Me?  I look forward to my Friday night glass of wine.  It's the perfect way to wind down after a week.

In general I go with lighter reds like cabernet francs and pinot noir.  Thatboy likes dessert reds, like port.  Strong and sweet.  On their own, ports don't make my heart sing, but this is a really nice way to serve it if you're looking for both oomph of presentation and a way to improve on port.  The wine soaks in to the sweet melon, giving it a nice fruity flavor.  The salty prosciutto brings out the deepness of the port itself.  And I love the combination of sweet and salty, so melon and prosciutto is a winning combination anyway.

Tipsy Melon with Prosciutto (From Trail of Crumbs)
1 ripe summer melon
  1. Halve the melon.  Discard seeds.  Slice a small piece off bottom of melon so it will balance on a plate without wobbling.
  2. Fill melons about a third with good-quality port wine.  Chill until ready to serve.
  3. Serve with thin slices of prosciutto.