Monday, August 30, 2010

A lotta Fritatta

It is Monday again...and, for a Monday it was pretty good. Husband and I both woke up a little late this morning, but I still made it to school with time to spare. When I say time to spare, I mean I had five minutes until my students came in instead of one- always a plus. We had a pretty low-key afternoon which involved "watching" a movie (we both fell asleep) and cooking dinner.

Tonight's dinner was a cabbage and potato fritatta with bacon- a Rachael Ray recipe. When I first started cooking, all I cooked was Rachael Ray recipes. I recommend her stuff for people who are starting out because most of the recipes are fairly simple.

The fritatta was easy to make and was surprisingly tasty. I had my doubts about the combination of ingredients but it turned out fine. The fritatta consisted of 7 eggs, beaten, sliced cabbage (we used red, the recipe calls for green which would probably be better), sliced carrots, one diced onion, bacon, crumbled, and two diced potatoes. I also added one chopped scallion and chopped parsley. I didn't follow the recipe's ingredients exactly because I used a lot of what I already had and reduced the recipe so that it should only feed two people. It made a lot more than that, thus tonight's title "a lotta fritatta". Basically, you first preheat the oven to 350 and then cook the bacon in an oven-proof pan and crumble it. Then, in the bacon grease you cook the carrots and potatoes until soft, then add the onion and cabbage. After that, you beat the eggs (seasoned with salt and pepper) and add them to the pan. Once I did that, I added the bacon, parsley, and scallion to the mix. I cooked it on medium heat until the egg started to stick to the edges of the pan but the middle was still runny. Once that happens, you transfer the pan to the oven for roughly ten minutes, until the edges brown. Take it out, transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges. It was really pretty! The red cabbage made it more colorful, but I think green cabbage would give it a better flavor.

The only drama I encountered while cooking was I originally did not start off with enough eggs. I started with five and when I added them to the pan, it quickly became evident that my eggs were not going to make it with all the vegetables. So, I ran next door (really I ran through the closet that connects us to our neighbor's house) and grabbed two eggs. It is very convenient that we have chickens in our backyard producing eggs daily that are collected by the neighbors and that come to my rescue in the event of egg emergencies.

The first picture is of the vegetables pre-eggs, the second is the finished product.

Friday, August 27, 2010

For my heroes

I'm so glad that it is Friday! The week went pretty quickly, but I'm always thankful for a weekend. Today I had my students type a paragraph about who their hero is. As I started to think about it, I realized I have many heroes. My granddaddy is one of my heroes. As cliche as it may sound, I have always admired him, my whole life. No one can make me laugh like he does and no one loves me like he does. My friend Libby is my hero. She has just started fighting a battle with cancer. I think about her every single day and how she is just so brave and determined to beat this- and I pray a lot that she will. God is bigger than her cancer.

One of my culinary heroes is Julia Child. I admire how she had such a drive to learn how to cook. And- when she did, she rocked. Look how far she came. She went from barely dicing an onion to being one of America's most beloved chefs. I love Julia. I don't cook a lot of her recipes, but the ones I have adopted I love.

I, of course, have many more heroes- and, I want to give a shout out to a few. My husband is because he inspires me not to settle and to strive to become more of who I can be. My mom is because I learned how to do so much from her and she showed me what loving children is supposed to be like. Next my dad, because he shows me what unconditional love looks like and I know that I will forever be his little girl. My little brother is my hero because he is infinitely creative like I wish I could be and because he put up with me making him do absurd things during our childhood. And the list goes on.

As for some food...below are some images of dinner from the past two nights. The first is scallops provencale, a Ina Garten recipe. The second is pork chops with spinach and parsley-wine noodles. Both tasty. I seem to have a white and green theme going.

. this is the rice the scallops were placed on

this picture is of the leftovers that I took for lunch

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

When all else fails, cook.

Today offered its share of ups and downs, but all was peaceful when I entered the kitchen tonight. Dinner was simple and very good. I made flank steak with chimichuri sauce and corn. Yes, we've been having quite a bit of corn lately because last month we bought 3 dozen- but it is so good. If you live near Chesterfield Berry Farm you should definitely grab a dozen.

The chimichuri sauce (Real Simple, July 2010) was so simple and good. It was made up of 1/2 cup fresh chopped parsley, 1/3 cup olive oil, 1 clove of garlic, minced, 2 tablespoons of red wine vinegar, and salt. I also added a squirt of fresh lime juice.

When I was uploading the flank steak photo, I noticed another dish that I had not blogged about. It is a meal that I adapted from one I saw my friend Lucy make once. I don't really have a name for it, but it is a one-pan squash and chorizo dish. All I did was saute cut squash and onions which were seasoned with salt, and a dash of both sugar and garlic powder. Then, I added the chorizo. I topped it all of with chopped scallions. Its a great one-pan meal.

Since cooking dinner, its been a great night. I enjoyed a brownie after dinner and am currently watching Juno. Its making me laugh. Yes, a good night indeed. So my motto for today: when all else fails, cook.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Cooking Rut

August has been the month of repeats. I have not ventured out to many new recipes thus the lack of blogging the past two weeks. I suppose with a new school year underway, that after-school tiredness has gotten the best of me. I have been cooking mostly recipes that I either made up or have done before- not really too much of interest. This week does, however, promise improvement. Up for the week is: chicken noodle soup (ok, yes, been there done that, but I have a cold so chicken noodle soup is in order), pork chops with parsley-wine noodles and spinach, a cabbage, bacon, & potato frittata, flank steak with chimichurri sauce and corn, and finally one of my favorites, scallops provencale.

The cooking begins tomorrow, as for tonight, it's El Patron.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Back to School

Tomorrow is the first day of school. As cliche as it sounds, it is really hard to believe that the summer has come to a silent end. Tomorrow morning will be filled with sounds of school buses, and sights of children nervously and excitedly entering into a new year. I suppose I am ready but I would never turn down a few more days of summer.

I thought that since tonight marked the end of summer for me, I would cook up some fish to remind me of the beach which reminds me of summer. On our most recent beach trip my husband caught two dolphin (also known as mahi mahi). So, since the dolphin was awaiting me in the freezer, I thawed it out and embarked upon tonight's meal.

No recipes tonight folks, just putting some flavors together that I really like. I brushed each piece of the fish with dijon mustard. I should mention that my husband did have to cut out the, what I call, "yucky" parts of the fish because, well, I just can not deal with that. (I have only recently brought myself to deveining shrimp.) After brushing the fish with the mustard I coated them in panko bread crumbs. It was at this point I should have just thrown the fish in a pan with heated olive oil, but I thought, I'd like it grilled. (The only reason I wanted it grilled, by the way, is becuase I didn't want the house to smell like fish.) But- I did not put it in the pan, I had husband grill it. The panko bread crumbs got a bit charred (duh, right?), but otherwise it was cooked to perfection. Shout out to you husband.

While the fish was grilling, I cooked some fresh corn (we got a dozen really good ears of corn for only $1.99, awesome) and sauteed some tomatoes that I had that were about to kick the dust along with a scallion- white and green parts. To the tomato saute I added garlic, salt, and pepper. All of the vegetables were very scrumptious. I also made a parsley-lime vinaigrette to drizzle over the fish. So, I guess I did lie when I said no recipes because the vinaigrette recipe came from Joy of Cooking. Anyway, in all it was a great end of summer meal.

Since tomorrow is a school day I had to pack my lunch. I have been packing my lunch for twelve years, by the way, through middle and high school, two years of college, and two prior years of teaching. I believe it's time I hire a personal lunch chef.

In celebration of a new school year, I packed a classic school lunch (usually I take leftovers). It consists of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chips, and yogurt. I have a bag of Raisin Bran for breakfast.

My husband is watching the first night of football which tells me that fall is right around the corner.

Goodbye summer, I will miss you.

One Hit Wonder

Last night's dinner was one that made you say, "humm...probably wouldn't do it that way again." It was a roasted pork chop recipe from this month's Real Simple. I used two bone-in pork chops, one onion, fresh basil, and 3/4 cup of couscous. You cook the couscous according the box's directions. Check. Then, you salt and pepper your pork chop and brown it in some olive oil in a oven-proof skillet. Check. Then, transfer the chops to a plate and saute the onion in the pork chop drippings. Check. Return the chops to the pan, top with fresh chopped basil and transfer to a 400 degree oven for ten minutes. Check. Afterward, place the chops on the couscous. Check. The original recipe called for the addition of peaches to be roasted with the chops. I think that this would be a pleasant addition, however, my husband has a strong opposition to cooked fruit. He's an odd one.

The flavor overall was decent. However, the pork chops were kind-of tough. Perhaps they did not need so long in the oven, or would be better grilled.

Anyway, it was still edible and we still enjoyed our family dinner together. All was not lost.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Out and About

Last night, my friend, Jesse, and I went out to the "new" Mexican restaurant in Farmville. It is one of two. You see the population of Farmville is rather small, so to say that we have two Mexican restaurants is quite impressive. Until last night, I had been dining at "the other one" and my experience was no more than mediocre. Well, I am happy to report that El Patron has brought new life to this ball game. We arrived around 7:00 and just beat the "rush" (2-3 more families came to dine). I enjoyed a chicken enchilada, taco, and beans. Very basic, but I have to ensure that the basics are satisfactory before I move on. And- unlike "the other one" you have unlimited refills on chips and a yummy dipping sauce in addition to the normal salsa. While La Carretta (Lynchburg, VA) is still my favorite Mexican dining facility, El Patron is pulling its weight in our small town. Here's to you El Patron.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Scallops Please

Tonight will be a simple, short post on the journey I ensued upon with scallops. When I came home from work tonight, I saw a bag of bay scallops thawing in water on our counter, meaning this is what husband decided we'd eat tonight. All is fine with me because I love scallops. Typically, I follow one of two of Ina Garten's (can you tell she's my fav?) recipes for a scallop dish. Tonight, I embarked on my own creative adventure.

I had seen before scallops paired with a lime on a kebab. So, I started with that basic idea. I quartered some lime slices, chopped an onion, and prepared my scallops. Then, I, with the help of my husband, artfully arranged the ingredients on skewers. Since there were only two of us, we used three skewers. I made sure that the scallops were sandwiched by a lime wedge and an onion each time they were added to the skewer. We grilled them for about ten minutes. In the meantime, I cooked up some basmati rice and corn. The corn recipe is from my mother-in-law, although I don't know if we use the same herbs or not. Basically, I cut the kernels off of two fresh pieces of corn and sauteed them with some fresh thyme and basil. I also created a "white wine" sauce for the scallops that consisted of, well, white wine, a splash of heavy cream, butter, and dried basil.

Once the scallop kebabs were grilled, I emptied them into a bowl, discarding the limes. I placed the scallops and onions over a bed of rice and covered them with the wine sauce. My creative adventure proved to be a delectable meal.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Great Friends & Summer Spaghetti

So, it's been a while. I've been cooking, eating, and being married, but i have not stopped to write about any of it! I've had some really great food and some really great times these past couple of weeks, but I feel as if I've been living life in the fast lane! I went back to work today, sigh, but I was deeply encouraged in doing so as three of my good friends also returned to work today- so we suffered and rejoiced together.

On Friday night we had a going away party for one of my great friends Megan. She is teaching in Guatemala for ten months. So, my friends all gathered together to send her off. It was truly one of the best nights I have experienced in a while. It was so wonderful to have all of our friends together, laughing, sharing stories, and encouraging each other. I am so glad to have had the time with them and with Meg before she leaves!

As for the summer night about two months ago I had to make a meal out of what we had in the house. I "googled" a spaghetti and meatballs recipe from both Ina Garten and I combined the meatballs from and the sauce from Ina and it was delicious. Tonight I redid the recipe minus the meatballs. I just browned the ground beef and added it into my sauce (1 28oz can diced tomatoes, 1 medium onion diced, fresh parsley, oregano, and basil, 1 clove of garlic, minced, kosher salt, and ground pepper) tonight. My husband came home from a long day at work and we sat at our "kitchen table" (quotes because our table resides in our living room) with some candles, sprinkled on some freshly grated parmesean, and called it a meal. My spaghetti is called "summer spaghetti" because it uses fresh ingredients. We call the spaghetti my husband makes, "winter spaghetti" because it uses fewer fresh ingredients and it just somehow really only tastes good in the winter. So, all in all, we share the spaghetti making duties throughout the year. Below is the dish. Until next time..