Wednesday, November 30, 2011
Like I said, Lydia (who has developed quite the knack for grabbing cereal bowls, cups of water, and anything else within her surprisingly long reach right off the table) was not content to sit in daddy's lap and look at the cake. She wiggled right onto the table and almost crawled toward her destination.
Even Hannah, who usually eats only the icing, devoured her whole piece of cake, and then asked for more. Quite an occasion!
Friday, November 25, 2011
First of all, take a look at that turkey! Isn't that the prettiest turkey you've ever seen? My very talented brother-in-law cooked up that beauty on the grill. You should have been there. It tasted even better than it looks.
Okay, on the the people shots. I celebrated my birthday this week. Last year was a "milestone" birthday. I had visions of The Melting Pot. Instead, I had a different kind of melting pot: a church potluck, and an all-night drive to Chicago. This year, Jonathan made a very nice to-do about the date, and boy was it fun.
It involved a lot of chocolate cake, so what was not to enjoy?
Jonathan and my friend Anne made a really nice surprise birthday lunch for me last week. Anne made the richest, most decadent chocolate cake I've ever had. It smelled like cocoa. I think I ate about a quarter of it, along with some vanilla ice cream. Yummy!
I also took full advantage of the free cakes at restaurants, the most memorable of which was this mud pie cupcake. More yummy!
For the holiday (Thanksgiving, not my birthday), we went to Chicagoland to visit Jonathan's family. The girls got to be memorialized on Opa's door jam, a much tidier version of my grandma's door.
Looks fun, huh?
Hannah and Cousin Brady had a real blast together. Check out the "Magic Ball" bouncing competition. This went on for about an hour. (Don't tell Uncle Wally, whose deathly afraid that something will go through his TV.)
Meanwhile, Lydia participated in a rousing game of Pass The Baby.
And edged out by the football game, while the grown-ups were engaged in tryptophan comas, the kids settled down in the abandoned dining room to watch Toy Story.
And as for the wedding anniversary that wasn't? Even though Thanksgiving was a good time to get married, it's a bad time to have an anniversary. So that's postponed for later...
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Friday, November 11, 2011
Hands down, the favorite Mexican-inspired dish at our house is chicken enchiladas. It's comfort food for me and Jonathan, and Hannah likes it too. (Keep in mind that this is a kid who started eating salsa straight out of the bowl at 8 months. And not just any salsa, this stuff would have made some grow-ups cry. That being said, this really is only as spicy as the sauce you use.)
This is also a super way to use up leftover chicken. My mom makes turkey enchiladas after the holidays. If you don't have any cooked chicken on hand, an easy and tasty way is to simmer a couple of chicken breasts (or whatever pieces you have on hand) in just enough water to cover, with a little onion and oregano.
2 cups cooked chicken, diced or shredded
12 corn tortillas (if you want to do it the "real" way, you have to use corn and not flour)
Cheese that's melty (If you want to be really authentic, skip this "authentic" cheese blend I bought and use Monterrey Jack. If you want to be frugal, buy what's on sale, like I did. You could also use queso fresco, which is really yummy, but it doesn't melt at all. So I would use queso fresco in the enchiladas and put the melty cheese on top, to make it look prettier. Because isn't melted cheese all over your dinner pretty?!)
Green enchilada sauce (My "secret ingredient" is this kind of sauce: Herdez Salsa Verde, which is not enchilada sauce at all. It's tomatillo salsa, but it has a nice tangy flavor, and just the right amount of spice for our family.)
and 1-2 Tbsp of cheese (this depends on how cheesy you want it, or whether or not you're going for low-cal. Based on the picture above, it looks like I used a little less than a cup.)
and a nice handful of chicken.
Step 3: Roll up the tortilla. This is where you'll find out why it mattered to heat the tortillas first. If they're not hot (or not hot enough), they'll break and crumble.
Step 4: Put them in a 9x13 baking dish, making sure the "seam" side is down. This keeps all the good stuff in while they're cooking.
Step 5: Cover it up with enchilada sauce.
Make sure you get all the edges, or they'll get crusty and dried out.
Step 6: Top the whole thing with some more cheese. Again, it's good gooey, and it's nice with just a little for decoration for the diet version.
Step 7: Bake it at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until the cheese is melted and it's heated all the way through.
Usually, one person would eat 2 or 3 enchiladas. So this recipe would serve 4, and you might even have leftovers for lunch the next day.
Friday, November 4, 2011
(By the way, want to follow me on Pinterest? Click the big, red button on the side bar.)
The folks at Pinterst have helpfully created some umbrella categories that one can peruse, like fashion, food, crafts, photography, and travel, just to name a few. I spend most of my time looking at kids, crafts, and food - and I mean this virtually, not just in real life. Let me tell you, seeing row after row of beautiful photographs of really nice food just does something to me. My mouth waters as soon as I log in. (I don't want to hear your remarks about Pavlov.) I got so many cakes going on my food board that I even created a separate cake board.
So after weeks of looking at all these pictures and accompanying recipes, I decided to get out my mixing spoon and make a few. Some are wonderful. Some look good and taste mediocre. I figured that I'd try my hand as a food critic; that is, of my own cooking, based on recipes I find on Pinterest. Interested? Then read on...
Just before Halloween, there were a plethora of pumpkin recipes making the rounds on the Food Boards. I really like cooking with pumpkin. I always buy several pumpkins, which I roast, puree, and freeze to bake with throughout the year. So I was looking for ways to use up the end of last year's pumpkin. And this Pull-Apart Cinnamon Sugar Pumpkin Bread showed up over and over again. This is from a beautiful and yummy-looking food blog called Sunny Side Up in San Diego. It looks amazing, doesn't it? I had just made pumpkin muffins, which Jonathan and Hannah both devoured (and these are people who turn up their noses at banana, blueberry, or chocolate muffins). So I was ready to venture deeper into the realm of pumpkin breads.
One afternoon last week, Hannah and I gathered the ingredients and went to work. This is a yeast bread, so it was a lesson in delayed gratification for daughter and mother alike. Hannah especially enjoyed cutting the strips of dough to make the pull-apart bits. It baked up into a nice loaf, which looked almost as lovely on our plate as it does in the original picture.
Hannah and I sat down to take our first bites. She liked it okay, but unlike the magic pumpkin muffins, only ate a few bites. (This is normal for my non-sweet-tooth. I don't understand how she is related to me, but I guess it's for the best.) I, on the other hand, was hugely disappointed.
I don't think I've ever said this before in my whole life, but there was too much sugar. The entire bread tasted like sugar: cinnamon sugar coating each piece of bread, and then a very sweet glaze drizzled over the entire thing. (By the way, I left the rum out of the glaze. Maybe that was the problem.) It did not taste one bit like pumpkin. I was sad that I used my second-to-last cup of frozen pumpkin on a bread that didn't have any pumpkin flavor.
Bottom line: this one's not going in the Keeper File. As a cinnamon sticky bread, it was just fine, but for a pumpkin bread, it missed the mark for me.