Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Better than marshmallows

I listened to a chef on the radio during Thanksgiving talking about how at his restaurant they serve a sweet potato casserole topped with goat cheese instead of the southern classic marshmallow topping. It sounded very good to me and I remembered about it last night on my way home from work and thought I would try that combination.

Chris helped me out by baking the potatoes for me while I was on my way home from work. When I got in the kitchen, I seared two chicken breasts rubbed with a little Cajun spices, salt and pepper and set it aside. In the same pan with the same oil, I added a small chopped onion and green pepper and tossed quickly. I added the chopped kale and some broth and cooked the mixture until the kale had wilted - adding broth as needed to keep from sticking (I am trying to not have to add oil so I use broth). I cut up the chicken breast and added it to the kale mixture.

On the plate I sliced one sweet potato in half and put a generous layer of goat cheese on top. Then I topped it with the kale mixture. It was wonderful and I have to admit, I could have eaten the sweet potato with the just the cheese alone. It was a great combination.

A small break in the weather

This past weekend we had a full house which was nice. We had Uncle Dave and his lovely girlfriend Gabrielle over for the weekend from New Jersey and Ninnie stopped by a couple of times while she was down from Tennessee. It was nice to see them all and I have to thank Ninnie again for watching the kiddos while us older kids got out for a while.

We have been experiencing a harsh winter so far for our region. Sadly a lot of our crops down here are gone. Things are going to be a little different at the product market this winter.

Sunday the sun came out and the weather finally warmed up and we wanted to get out of the house and let the kids enjoy the day. We decided to head out for breakfast and go visit the animals at the zoo.

The Manatees are Bella's favorite now. She still enjoys the giraffes, but she requested to see the Manatees the whole time we where there. There was one manatee that played outside this window and would come up to the glass. Bella and Kris could have sat there the rest of the afternoon.
Kristjan loves all the animals and was fascinated when he was able to get close to real moving elephants, giraffes and zebras.
Cute pic of Kris with his daddy.
Uncle Dave and Gabrielle where so cute together. I hope they had a good time and we are thankful that they came down to visit with us. I know the kids loved their company.
Kristjan thought it was a dinosaur and didn't want off.

Kristjan and Bella walked a lot that day and naturally he was snoring all the way home. I'm glad we were able to get them out and about and I know they loved every minute of it

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Lovely colors

That's what Chris said when he saw his plate. "Wow, look at all the colors." That gave me a little dose of the warm and fuzzies. That means I must have prepared a healthy dish. Even though I have leftovers galore in the frig in the garage like, chili from Saturday, still some of that roasted veg pasta bake, chicken and dumplings from Sunday (that was my first attempt....and a not very good one at that) I thought I better get in a nutrient dense meal in for Chris's health.

Let me back track just a second here. Chris has been home for days with this nasty cough and upper respiratory infection. Saturday I made chili because it was extraordinarily cold here and thought that was the perfect clean your sinuses-comforting meal. Sunday I boiled two Cornish game hens with some veg for 7 hours to create some broth for chicken and dumplings. Chicken soup is always good for a cold right? The broth was rocking man! The dumplings however, did not puff and I also added the chicken back into the broth too soon so it had disintegrated into small hair like particles of chicken with rock hard dumplings. I am now on a quest to make a better chicken and dumplings!

Since Chris was still under the weather I thought I would try a meal of vitamin and mineral rich vegetables along with some extra fiber. At nine o'clock is steamed carrots, rutabaga and turnips. At twelve o'clock is sauteed summer and zucchini squash and at five o'clock, turnip greens with ham, onion, garlic and kamut.
My favorite was the turnip greens with the Kamut. What is Kamut? It's actually a Khorasan wheat with Kamut being the brand name for it. Even though it's thought to have originated from the Pharaohs of Egypt, the grain originally came from the invading armies of the ancient Greeks or Roman empires. It's still in speculation. The wheat can still be found growing in small plots in Turkey. This grain is much higher in protein, minerals, selenium, zinc and magnesium than today's general wheat flour. I love it's meaty texture and flavor. It's a new staple at our house.

Tonight....I will just be heating up leftovers. I think seconds of that warm chili is in order.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Building that relationship to veg

I'm not talking about being a vegetable, (though, the thought of a nap on the couch sounds good!) I'm talking about my relationship with eating vegetables. I have been for so long this carboholic, and still am honestly. I have this constant need for pasta, rice and bread. It's like I can't make a dish without one of those included somehow. As you will see below, I have the veg going on as well as the pasta!

I've done much better than in the past. We used to eat pasta or rice with every meal. Now I try to limit pasta to no more than twice a week and try and eat only brown rice.
My favorite vegetable by far believe it or not is the brussel sprout. I love the texture and flavor of those babies. I brown a little chopped bacon or pancetta with garlic, then toss in the sprouts. I like to sear them a bit and then add a splash of broth just before serving.
I've also been making those turkey meatballs lately. Chris happens to love them. This time I made my balls, baked them until firm and then boiled them a bit on a little broth for about 15 minutes. I then reduced the broth and thickened it with a little butter and served on top. The pasta is Cacio e Pepe. That wondrously hot black pepper pasta.
I had a large amount of leftover peppered pasta so I tossed it up with some sauteed mushrooms, garlic, onion, tofu and fresh broccoli. Added a little broth and it was a great leftover remake.
Here I am gathering items for my big roast pasta bake. I tend to quickly brown some items to save some time. Here we have a can of black olives, some onion, red bell pepper and lots of garlic!
I added some seared zucchini and cajun chicken sausage. After that I added some cooked (very al dente) rigatoni then cubed and seared eggplant. Eggplant I love dearly, but am still learning how to cook. It seems to need a heck of a lot of olive oil to cook without burning. Perhaps I should salt them more and drain the liquid or stick to only grilling it. It becomes a not-so-healthy vegetable when I have to use so much oil to get it cooked.
I toss in a can of diced roasted tomatoes and toss well. I have in the past roasted cherry tomatoes for this, but I was trying to save a little time.
Before baking I placed some cubed Monterrey Cheese in spots. I normally use Feta, but didn't have any at the time. I like to cook it until I have plenty of pasta "crunchies" to enjoy.
A Sunday treat during football season. Our poor Buc's are done for the year, but there are the playoffs left! Chris always pops a bag of Black Jewel popcorn during his Sunday game. When the kids get a whiff, they come running!

Thursday, January 7, 2010

That heavy feeling in the tum tum

Recently I've been robbed folks. Robbed of moments to stop and reflect, robbed of the chance to even think about being in the "present moment" and robbed of experiencing the joy of the others in my life. Sounds drastic doesn't it? Perhaps, but to me it feels like such weight in my stomach.

These past weeks have been whirling by and I have been holding on to the tip of it, like holding on to the tail of a running dinosaur (had to use that animal as an example because my house is dinoland), just passing by all of the truly meaningful experiences without being able to just stop and rest or stop and soak life in. Right now; since Christmas, I'm rushed through all of the daily processes until that last couple of hours where I can even think about slowing down to enjoy my children, husband and home before bed.

I am frustrated and feel like I can't stop that running dinosaur but I also can't let go. Either I have horrible time management skills or I am spread way too thin. I can work on the time management the best I can but work is a bear. I'm now doing the jobs of three with a new (but way more pleasant thank goodness) boss that emails me every 5 minutes with additional questions and requests. Eating lunch now is a process of inhaling food while working. Today, I decided to blog during my lunch whether the walls fell down around me or not.

I just want to cook people. Cook and spend time with my family and even take a little care of myself in there somewhere. What's going on right now is the rushed processes of chores and work, not tending to myself, enjoying every moment with my children or experiencing the life I want to live. Sure, this too shall pass and all will be easier later and I am not the only spread thin working mom out there, but I have to say...this sucks man!

I have a couple of recipes to post. I hope to post to you soon.