Tuesday, July 13, 2010

The Party Never Stops

It is only hump day, and already I am awaiting the weekend. Monday, after waking early to get myself and the kids ready for our much needed trip to Central Market, I realized that my husband, who was spending the day fishing with his best friend, had taken my car, with the car seats. Stranded for the day. With no groceries. How thoughtful. I already knew that this would be a challenging day, as I had a special assignment of sorts that had to be completed, which is why Monday's menu was so sparse. I was to whip up a chocolate souffle on camera for a certain new show that is coming out, and everything had to be perfect- no pressure there. I received this commission nearly three weeks ago, and that is precisely how long it took for me to procure a babysitter that could have all 3 of my children at their house for the amount of time necessary to get the filming done. Luckily, I did have all of the ingredients for that little number, even if I had to break down and order pizza for lack of other groceries.

Tuesday, while definatley an improvement (culinary and otherwise), was exhausting. My blueberry muffins were a hit, and while I'm not sure if I am ready to attach a 'best ever' label to this particular recipe, were the best ones I have made thus far. In light of Monday being a total wash, I cut my losses with the clam chowder and made Hamburger Help Her instead- a simple, filling, and quick one pot dish that has all the yumminess of the boxed version, without the queasiness and self loathing afterwards. I rounded up the troops following lunch and headed to the park, thinking some fresh air would do us all a little good. Since most of my experience outside consists of going from an air conditioned house into a pre air conditioned car, into an air conditioned shop, and then back again, it is easy to be relatively ignorant of current weather temperatures. Five minutes at park and we are all pouring sweat. This is Texas after all- but somehow I missed the recent jump to 100 degree days. Surprisingly, the children don't seem to be phased by the heat, and so I stick it out in spite of the fact that the humidity has my pants sticking to me in all manner of uncomfortable ways. Once home I turn my house into a temporary igloo to recover and play a few board games with the girls before beginning dinner. I had a
momentary panic when I realized I had forgotten ricotta cheese at the store, and all would be lost for the corn pudding, before succumbing to the fact that I could still make a lovely corn side dish with just the corn, some diced onion, and some chopped fresh basil and butter. My biggest triumph of the evening was managing to not overcook my lightly floured skillet bone in pork chops, which is so easy to do, as I have managed to prove on a number of occasions. Dessert was a big hit with the kids- chunky cherry chocolate chip ice cream cones, which while more time consuming than my usual ice cream confections, was well worth the effort we put into making it after breakfast. I had the brilliant idea to prepare Wednesday's breakfast and our picnic lunch for the zoo the night before, which would allow us to have a pleasant morning, and just maybe get our of the house on time. The pre-made idea, while a good time saver in theory, just meant that the labor was shifted around and had me going back to work, logging an extra 2 hours in the kitchen (I loath the sight of dishes at this point).

I am beginning to believe that their is some dark and sinister force that is at play, keeping us from reaching the zoo. Today was the second attempt in the last month that went awry. Wes began not feeling too great the night before, and when we woke this morning he had a full fledged 'man-cold'. To those of you unfamiliar with this particularly debilitating illness, it strikes fast, and it strikes hard, leaving it's male patients with a complete incompetence and inability to care for themselves. Women seem to be immune. So we put off going anywhere and I got to add the role of nursemaid to my standard job title. Luckily I had made that fabulous egg casserole that only had to be popped in the oven... I remember my step mother assembling egg casserole every year for Christmas morning, and never for the life of me understood why she didn't make them more often... Egg casseroles, or stratas, are incredibly versatile (you can assemble them a hundred different ways) and so delicious, and this morning's was no exception.
At some point this afternoon, feeing rundown, I fell asleep on the floor, only to wake up teaching my children a colorful new assortment of four letter words- Josephine had gone into the kitchen, grabbed a smoothie, and managed to spill it on the living room rug. And in the hall. AND on her sheets. It was everywhere, like a little mess trail, that ended with a mischievous little smile. Wes, thankfully feeling much better, stepped in and mopped the floors for me and I once again stepped into the kitchen. Tonight was about comfort food and it was right on time... A simple italian salad of romaine lettuce tossed in a 'glug glug' of olive oil, a 'glug' of balsamic vinegar, and a 'glu' of red wine vinegar, a generous sprinkling of grated parmesan, a dash of garlic powder and some salt and freshly ground pepper. And a cheesy, creamy, tomato-y, incredibly yummy baked penne pasta, that is one of those dishes that once dinner is over and the table has been cleared, I stand over the pot and take 5 or 10 more bites because it's just so homey and reassuring. My planned dessert of tiramisu, was unfortunately absent because I had forgotten that it required overnight refrigeration... The lady fingers aren't going anywhere however, so it will be back for next weeks menu!

Berry Blue Muffins
3 cups all purpose flour
1 cup sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs
3/4 cup milk
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2 1/2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries

- preheat oven to 375, butter and flour a 12 cup muffin tin (or fill with paper liners)
-in a large bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients
-in a medium bowl, whisk the butter, eggs, milk, zest, and lemon juice
-pulse one cup of the blueberries in a food processor until coarsely chopped and add to the wet ingredients
-add the wet ingredients into the dry ones and gently stir until just incorporated
-fold in remaining blueberries
-distribute equally among muffin cups and bake for 22 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the middle of a mufin comes out clean

Hamburger Help Her

1 TBS extra virgin olive oil1 lb ground beef or bison
1 onion, diced
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes
2 8 oz cans tomato sauce
1 1/2 TBS soy sauce
1 tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
2 garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp garlic powder
salt and pepper
1 cup uncooked macaroni

-in a large pot heat the oil over medium high heat and brown the meat
-add the onion, cook and stir for 5 minutes
-add all of the remaining ingredients, reduce the heat slightly, and simmer, covered for 30 minutes

Egg Casserole With Peppers and Bacon

1 TBS extra vergin olive oil
1 onion, finely chopped1 red bell pepper, chopped
1 yellow bell pepper, chopped
8 oz loaf hearty french or italian bread, sliced 1/2 inch thick
1 pack of nitrate free bacon (12 oz to 1 lb)
1 1/2 cups (6 oz) shredded swiss cheese
6 eggs
1 3/4 cups milk
3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper

-butter an 8 inch oval baking dish
-in a large skillet, cook the bacon over medium heat to desired crispness, remove from pan and roughly chop, drain fat from the pan
-in the same skillet, heat the oil over medium heat, add the onion and peppers and cook until softened about 7 minutes or so
-cover the bottom of the buttered dish with half of the bread slices, cutting pieces as necessary to make a nice fit, then top with half the onion mixture, and half of the bacon and cheese
-repeat the layers
- in a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, salt and pepper together, then pour over the casserole
-wrap up and refrigerate overnight
-in the morning, pop it into a 350 degree oven and bake for 40 minutes

No comments:

Post a Comment