Prosciutto, Tomato and Olive Spaghetti

I sure picked a heck of a week to do 4 recipes! Of course, the cooking is a welcome distraction. I found out Monday that our 16 year old cat, Ophelia, has hyperthyroid disorder and Diabetes. Now that our son is starting to crawl with confidence around the house, I may have to give the cat injections 2 times a day. It won’t come to that I hope. I found a natural, holistic treatment for the diabetes. We’re changing her diet completely and  she is on thyroid medication. Geez! If it isn’t one of us sick…. Got to stop this cycle.

The week started out with so much promise on Sunday too! We actually followed through on our threat to stop shopping at Whole Foods and get all of our produce (at the least) from a Farmer’s Market. Why we chose the Hollywood Farmer’s Market, I’ll never know. It’s just as exciting and crazy as you would think! 

When we arrived, we realized that we had forgotten bags. Novices! I just threw all of our purchases in the basket of the stroller. The market was so huge, it encompassed 4 blocks (2 blocks of Ivar and one block in either direction of Ivar). And it took us a full hour and a half to navigate the course of stands. And of course, just outside, in full hipster/1920’s garb, The California Feetwarmers, an old timey band.  If you live in LA or ever visit,  the Hollywood Farmer’s Market really is something to experience. Open on Sundays. More info here

On to the first dish of the week, Prosciutto, Tomato and Olive Spaghetti. Don’t let the simplicity of the title fool you, this is not your momma’s spaghetti, unless your momma is an Italian cook who is used to slaving over the oven, “just to get you to eat! You look so skinny!” Or unless you are my son. 

On a side note, my son really likes it when we have spaghetti. He thinks it’s hysterical how the noodles get sucked up into the mouth. I’m sure this isn’t a unique phenomenon, just a very cute one. One of the best sounds in the world is the laughter of a baby. 

I digress. This recipe involves mincing garlic and cubing tomatoes. Things I find very tedious when I am cooking. Of course they always pay off, but still. It takes for EVER! My husband kept the little one occupied while I made dinner. I used Mrs. Lapeer’s corn pasta as corn pasta is the closest in texture and taste to wheat pasta. If you feel better about using brown rice pasta and don’t mind the texture, by all means, try it! 

And after all that marketing, I got home minus two of the ingredients for 2 dishes. So the spaghetti was made without shallots. I couldn’t tell the difference, though I’m sure it would have only enhanced the dish.

After all that going on about how much work it is, it really is delicious. The first of the recipes that I’ve made of my Pinterest board that I really like.  I shouldn’t say that either because I have now made 3 batches of the Salty Bourbon Squares. They are quite good. Time to get my hubby some more bourbon though. 

My husband’s reaction to the spaghetti  was “This tastes like something I would order in a restaurant!” Which is great! New dish that I would incorporate into our regulars? Sure! Though not too much and next time I make it, I would use canned tomatoes. 

Tonight, I hope to make the steak rolls. Looks to be another “easy” recipe. (Read with extreme sarcasm.)  Until then, here’s a shot of the spaghetti from Monday night.

Until next time! Image

Walnut Jam Scones

Life has once again gotten in the way of writing… though nothing as dramatic as being hospitalized. I have missed two weeks of blogging and cooking/baking. I will just have to make up for it by doing 4 recipes in the next week!

It’s not that I haven’t been cooking and baking this whole time. I have! Some new recipes and some of my classics. I even dabbled with a BabyCakes NYC recipe for my son’s 1st birthday: gluten-Free and sugar-free carrot cupcakes. I know what you’re thinking. It does sound awful! But my husband and son both enjoyed them. Cake Smash pictures are soon to be scheduled.

On to the topic of the Walnut Jam Scones from Huckleberry in Santa Monica, Ca. My best friend is a fan so I thought that these would be perfect to make for her birthday. Her husband threw her a surprise tea party with several of her closest friends and asked me to contribute something. I brought these scones.

I mixed them in the morning. Froze them in a pyrex pan lined with wax paper and then baked them in the afternoon! Super easy and very nice with all that tea! Just follow the directions. I liked that I didn’t feel like I had to have special equipment or know certain terminology. They just seemed to materialize perfectly. The ladies at the party also enjoyed them. This isn’t always the case with gluten free baking. One friend even took one home for her husband. Nice!

I would totally make these again. You should try them too. I used the Bronski flour mix, again adding a lot extra because this is a butter heavy recipe. Just add gluten free flour until it is smooth and sticks together well like a nice scone batter should. And do work it with your hands! I used a pastry knife and it totally made the butter disappear into the dough. Might have been even better the way the recipe told me to make them. Rats! I’ll try it next time.

I am thinking since I’ve baked a lot I should cook a lot more this week.  So, to start I’m going to make Prosciutto, Tomato and Olive Spaghetti, Balsamic Glazed Steak Rolls , Chile Relleno Grilled Cheese and Carmel-Glazed Apple Bread. Whew! I have got to go grocery shopping… and drink some wine.

The pictures from the Walnut Jam Scones are below. Enjoy!

After Freezing

After Freezing

prepping for baking

prepping for baking

Done baking

Done baking

Scrumptious!

Scrumptious!

The spread at the tea party

The spread at the tea party

 

Salty Bourbon Squares

As I perused the My Pinnable Kitchen Board trying to decide which recipe to do next, I came across the Salty Bourbon Squares. What a perfect way to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary than by stealing 2 tablespoons of my husband’s good bourbon…er. Well, he likes bourbon anyway and I am pretty sure he likes chocolate chip cookies too, so, perfect!

The blog that this recipe comes from, The Vanilla Bean Blog, is quite funny! If you have children, you will relate and have a giggle too. The photos are also quite beautiful. Really great blog!

This recipe was SUPER simple. I made it during one of my son’s naps. If you’re a parent you know that the time a child is napping is precious and fleeting and sometimes endless. But you usually have to be somewhere at a certain time after said nap. So the fact that I started AND finished this recipe during a nap says something.

I think that there is one reason why I don’t usually make everything I pin. I usually don’t have the exotic ingredients that I need. This recipe is one that I didn’t attempt before because I didn’t have Fluer de Sel. It’s an ingredient that is easy enough to get ahold of; it’s just rather expensive and you never know when you’ll need to use it again. Of course, I suppose, you could use it instead of regular salt.

Wow! I just googled what Fluer de Sel is. It’s hand harvested French salt! No wonder it’s $13 for 4.4 ounces! Well, the French do know cooking. And it was worth buying for this one recipe. I will be making it again.

Just from the pictures, you can tell that it was delicious. I have already had Facebook requests for one.

The one issue that I had was with the chocolate. Even though I followed the directions of the recipe and let the sugar and butter mixture cool before adding the egg/bourbon mixture (which didn’t curdle in the sugar), when I added the chocolate, it melted into the batter. As I was mixing it in, a few of the chips (I didn’t have time to cut up a chunk of chocolate) melted! I never thought that it would turn out a lighter brown color, but it did.

I also used the Bronski Gluten Free flour mix. I find that in most recipes, you can substitute the gluten free flour 1:1 unless the recipe is butter heavy. If there is a lot of butter, as there was in this recipe, I always add the gluten free flour at about 1.5:1 ratio, or heap tablespoons full in until the batter looks and/or feels the right consistency. In this case, I figured that since it is a giant casserole cookie (pedestrian term),  the batter needed to look like cookie batter.  This worked out perfectly!

The smell of chocolate chip cookies wafted into the nursery and I knew that we weren’t going to be able to wait on this treat for another day.  I took some to my best friend, whose in-laws are visiting. They all enjoyed. I would HIGHLY recommend this recipe.

Below are the pictures.  This week, I’m making Walnut Jam Scones for my Bestie’s birthday since she and her husband are such fans of Milo & Olive in Santa Monica.

Until then!

IMG_1400 IMG_1396

Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake

As I promised, I did make the Lemon Blackberry Cheesecake (<—–recipe link) two weeks ago. We went on a family vacation to Solvang, California with my husband’s family. It just so happened that the second night we were there was my mother-in-law’s birthday, (to avoid any ill feelings, I will keep my M-I-L’s age a secret.  She doesn’t look her age anyway. She looks years younger!) But she, and especially our niece and nephew, LOVE cheesecake. I thought it was the perfect time to try the recipe out on the family.

Making the cake was fairly easy, though I always find making cheesecakes a bit labor intensive. That may be because of my tiny kitchen.  Also, I find that you need to have all the right kitchen gear or it will take an age to get the ingredients ready to combine, much less figure out which pan you’re going to use.  Proper gear is key! You’ll need a 4″ deep springform pan and zester for this one.

When buying the ingredients, you find out why cheesecakes go for upwards of $45 (or $8 a slice!). If you buy high quality ingredients, and who wouldn’t for a birthday cake, plan on spending around $65. While we’re on the topic of ingredients, I substituted the cream cheese with a lower fat European style cream cheese called Neufchatel.  It worked really well in the recipe.  Also, as promised, I used gluten free graham cracker crumbs, by Kinnikinnick.

The recipe at one point tells you to “take half of the batter and add lemon juice, lemon zest and blackberries.” A process which was difficult because I had to eyeball what a half of the batter was. I think I added the fruity ingredients to slightly more than half of the batter. I was a bit nervous how it would turn out but the end result proved that I need not have worried.

I served up the cheesecake and well, it must have been good because the room fell silent for a while. You know it’s good when a 5 year old and an 8 year old are quiet because they are stuffing their faces! 🙂 There was so much that there were enough for seconds the next night!

While I really liked the cheesecake, it was a bit rich. (My mother-in-law suspected that the richness caused her to become ill later that night 😦  Not a happy birthday for her! ) I quite liked the blackberry and lemon layer of the cheesecake, but found that the plain layer lacked flavor. But on the whole a great recipe!

Next up, Salty Bourbon Squares to celebrate our 7th wedding anniversary! Until then, please enjoy the pictures of my first fault-line free cheesecake 🙂

See you soon!

Right before digging in:

Image

Right after digging in:

Image

Fresh out of the oven:

Image

Stuffed Bell Peppers

Tonight, I tried this “recipe“. I put it in quotes because if you follow the link, you’ll see that it is a list of ingredients with no amounts or directions posted. There aren’t even specifics on the ingredients i.e. onion as opposed to white onion or red onion. As I’ve stated before, I’m not a cook, so I did my best at guessing the proper ingredients and quantities. I prefer my ingredients to be real, organic and non-GMO so when shopping, I could only find green bell peppers at my local Whole Foods. I would have prefered to have a variety of color, but I was stuck with what I got. 

The recipe was fairly easy. It took about 45 minutes from start to finish. I was able to start after my husband arrived home from work and dinner was served and devoured before we had to bath the Babe for bedtime. 

I opted to broil the bell peppers instead of grilling them. If we had our own grill, I think it would have added to the flavor. 

I rinsed 1 Cup of brown rice. Then I drained the water off and added 1 3/4 cup chicken broth and 1 Tbl unsalted butter and cooked the rice. Meanwhile, I chopped 1/2 of a medium sized white onion, 2 cloves of garlic and 7 large leaves of basil, and halved about a dozen cherry tomatoes. When the rice had boiled down for about 20 minutes until all the broth had absorbed mostly into the rice, I then added the onion, garlic, basil and cherry tomatoes and let the rice cook the rest of the way down. Once the rice was ready, I added 4 heaping soup spoons of grated parmesan cheese. Once combined, I took the peppers, which had broiled for about 15 minutes, out of the oven and stuffed them with the rice mixture. Then I took fresh mozzarella cheese and sliced it 1/8″ thick and placed it on top of the rice mixture. Then I placed the peppers back into an oven set to 350° F for about 5 minutes, until the cheese had melted. 

While they look delicious, they were very plain. By the smell of it, they should have been very flavorful, but they just weren’t. We got a pop of flavor here and there, but nothing like I was hoping. 

My husband and I discussed what could make them better. Here are some ideas that we came up with:

Use red and yellow bell peppers. The green pepper flavor really overpowered everything else. 

Use more garlic. I was going to, but again didn’t want the predominant flavor to be garlic. I would use maybe 4 cloves? 

Use olive oil instead of butter when making the rice. It is an Italian dish….

Actually saute the onions and garlic and then add the fully cooked rice? I didn’t want to dirty more pans

Use more parmesan. Cheese always makes a dish better. 

There are numerous ways that I think my best friend could take this dish and make it something mouth watering. Maybe you have your ideas too and if they work, please share. This recipe seemed to have so much potential, but in the end fell flat. That’s what this is about though. Finding out and expanding our “Usual dinners” list. 

Here are the pics! Enjoy! See you soon!

Ingredients almost done Cooked

Teriyaki Bacon Wrapped Chicken Skewers

Friday I had a burst of energy. As soon as I was able, I made the Teriyaki Sauce and began cutting the chicken. I had soaked the skewers overnight in water so that they wouldn’t just go up in flames on the grill.

After cubing 1 large boneless, skinless chicken breast, I wrapped the bacon around a cube and cut with kitchen shears to size. The original post mentions something about not using thick cut bacon as it won’t work for this recipe, and they are right, but I picked up the only uncured Applewood smoked bacon I could find and it was thick cut. As I wrapped the chicken in the bacon, I stretched the bacon as thin as possible. Then alternate chicken/ bacon with Pineapple. I was able to get 3 bits of each on each skewer and the recipe yielded 6 skewers. All of this before the little one woke from his nap. YAY!

After letting the skewers marinate in the teriyaki sauce all day, I let my husband grill. Because the bacon was so thick, we had to broil after grilling and still a lot of the fat was not as crisp as I would have liked.

I served the skewers with brown rice. Nothing too fancy this time. I still am recovering from my hospital stay after all 😉 My husband LOVED them! I liked them a lot.

The teriyaki was a pleasant note as opposed to being overpowering. I love grilled pineapple and it added a nice sweetness. All in all, a really well balanced flavorful meal.

This has only made my husband more excited about the whole experiment.

This week, two recipes: Stuffed Bell Peppers with brown rice and Lemon Blackberry Pie

See you soon!ImageImage

The Best Laid Plans…

Oh! We’ll have plenty of time this weekend to do the first recipe! It’s the 4th of July long weekend…and I’m going to be admitted into the hospital?

Since arriving back from Colorado, I had not been feeling tip top. I had attributed it to the fact that I was a single parent for a week with a child who also wasn’t feeling well. I may get sick but I would get over it. 

As the holiday neared, my temperature went up, up, up! Not just because it was ungodly hot in the San Fernando Valley either. On the 4th, I ended up in Urgent Care. The doctor was either not paying attention to my actual symtoms or was already on holiday in his mind because he prescribed me meds for allergies. I went home and one medication that he prescribed caused severe sweating and my eyes to fling open at 10:30 pm and I didn’t get to shut them again until 4:30 am. This also complicated the sleep patterns of our 9.5 month old who is still breast feeding. He woke up at 3 and also didn’t get back down until 4:30.

The next day was worse with my temperature peaking at 102. I thought that if I still felt this awful come Saturday morning, I would certainly go back to Urgent Care. I felt worse and so we returned for another diagnosis or to yell at the first physician anyway. The new doctor took one look at my throat and declared that he thought I had an abscess on my tonsil and that if my fever rose to 102 again I was to head straight to the ER. He gave me an antibiotic shot and a shot of B12 and sent me home. Within an hour, my temperature was 102.7! I told my husband that I was sorry, but we had to go to the ER. 

There they couldn’t figure out what to do with me, but I had begun to finally feel a bit better. They suggested that I be admitted over night just for observation and I could see an ENT doctor and we’d get it all figured out. I thought that this sounded lovely! One night in hospital, my son could try to sleep in his crib and not feed on Mommy all night and Mommy could maybe get a good nights sleep. 

Four days later, I had been diagnosed with severe tonsillitis but I hadn’t had surgery. I was just observed. Sort of. One of those days, the ENT didn’t even come to evaluate my condition. My son was getting dehydrated and his separation anxiety seemed to be getting confirmed. My husband was unable to work and was doing the job of the two of us. I was slowly but not surely getting better. 

It may seem funny, but I thought about this blog. Not because I felt like I was letting anyone down, but because I wanted to be cooking and living life outside of the hospital rather than watching 9 episodes of Castle in a row. (I love Castle, but to watch that many episodes in a row, you must be at least 70 years old.) I also wanted to be home with my guys. 

I was released late Tuesday afternoon and I immediately began planning to make this weeks recipe. And I’m working on it. 

As I type, I’m listening to my son still getting used to not falling asleep in my arms nursing in our bed. Instead, he’s “learning to self sooth” by crying himself to sleep for an hour because now that we’ve started that, it would be really bad to go back to the way things were, (from what I’ve read). I hate every second of it. I feel like I’m torturing my Love Bug. Any constructive advice welcome. 

Incidentally, I am going to make the Teriyaki Sauce for this weeks recipe. It’s this one from FoodNetwork.com

I think I’ll have pictures up this weekend. You know, barring any more hospital stays. 

See you soon!

Let’s get it started…

I’m back from visiting family. I had a lovely time but came home even more exhausted from travel than anticipated. So did the baby. It was a good week to be away though as the hubs had a lot on his work plate & wouldn’t have been too available to help out.

This week holds 2 holidays in our home. The first, Canada Day on July 1 and of course there is the Forth of July! Lots of country births to celebrate. As we stuffed our faces with perogies and Montreal smoked meat Poutine at the Redondo Beach Cafe and will likely find something equally amazing and fattening to eat on the Forth, we opted to start our experiment next week. I say we, because I fully feel that my family is a huge part of this. My husband has to eat what I make  so I consult on which recipe I will be making in the next week.

We’ve settled on the Teriyaki Chicken Bacon and Pineapple skewers.

Dan asked if it would be cheating if he grilled them. He quickly followed that up with, “Of course, you could grill them too!” How very Canadian of him; Allowing for non traditional gender roles 😉

See you next week!

addendum…

I’ve been thinking about how this is like the “Julie & Julia” blog and what sets it apart. It’s similar I suppose, in that I can share with you not just a recipe but my life and environment while I make the recipe. The recipes are certainly not fine French Cuisine & certainly don’t come from an icon such as Julia Child. This is the updated, fully 21st century version of the J & J blog. You all have access to the same recipes and can even cook/bake along with me. (I have attached the link to my pinterest board so you can see the recipes.) Wouldn’t that be fun? We can share our experiences.

As I’m getting myself organized for this whole challenge, I realize that I haven’t actually gone through my board and made sure that they links are to actual recipes. I promise that if a link dosen’t actually go to a recipe, I will find  a similar recipe and make it. If it goes to multiple recipes, I may ask you to select which recipes we try. I like the idea of interacting with people who bother to take time to read this silly thing. Besides, I feel a bit sequestered since having the baby. This way, I can somehow feel a connection to society outside of spying in on Facebook.

As the time draws nearer to begin this process, I am getting excited. Partly, I suppose because my husband and friends are excited. I love exploring and this is just another avenue to do so. I hope anyone who is reading is getting excited too.

And the boy wonder is awake from his nap. Bye!

Challenge accepted…

In about 2 weeks, I am going to embark on a culinary journey. I’m not an expert chef or baker. I’m just a mom of a very young child trying to…he’s awake, be right back.

Ok. I think he’s back down. Whew! (That was about 20 minutes.)

As I was saying, I’m a mother of a young child just tying to be more than just a mom. I guess at the heart of it, I’m trying to regain a little piece of who I was before he came into our lives and made it complicated and more amazing. I also want to do this and benefit my family (and occasionally our friends too). They get to eat the results of the experiment.

Lastly, I’m doing this because I feel like Pinterest has become our electronic catchall. We dream of doing and making, but often I hear from friends, “It’s something off of Pinterest that I actually did!” I want to use this trove of great recipes. Dang it! He’s up again.

A few things to help set expectations:

1. All the recipes will be done gluten free. Even if it doesn’t call for gluten free flour, I will be using it. My husband and I are gluten sensitive and feel much better without it. I use the flour mix from Artisinal Gluten Free Cooking by Peter and Kelli Bronski.

2. No sea food. My husband can’t stomach it. Sad really because I enjoy it from time to time.

3. I LOVE the Autumn season. It kicks off the holidays and I appreciate the change in weather and clothes. I love a good sweater/boot combo! Because I love Autumn so much, my pins run heavy on the pumpkin and cider theme.

4. I want to have completed baking or cooking all the recipes on my Pinterest board in one year. I have roughly 130 pins on there now, which means I will have to make a recipe every three days. I will blog as often as my son allows, but I will blog about every recipe and will try to have pictures to accompany each.