Friday, February 27, 2009

On the Table in the Trash: Red Wine and Pear Sorbet

I was looking for dinner recipes in Every Day Food, and came across a recipe for Red Wine and Pear Sorbet.  Since I have my new ice cream maker burning a hole on my counter, I thought I would give it a try.  I let the bartlett pears ripen until they were a pale yellowish-green.  I deviated a bit from the recipe.  I didn't have red wine left over like I planned, so I used a cran-juice cocktail (in my Every Day Food magazine, this was given as an option, it doesn't mention it in the website).  I also used 1/3 cup agave nectar* instead of sugar and only a cup of water because agave counts as liquid.   And, since I have an ice cream maker, I used an immersion blender to puree the pear base instead of dirtying the food processor.  

My pears, peeled and cubed.

Pears simmering in liquid.

After I pureed the pears in the pot.

I am disappointed with the color of the sorbet.  The photo in my magazine show a beautiful rose colored scoop of sorbet.  Because I used the cranberry juice cocktail, I didn't achieve such a beautiful color.  I am sure sorbet with wine will also taste better.  I tried to cut and paste a photo from the Martha Stewart website, but it wouldn't copy.  Look at the color of the sorbet here.

This sorbet is a big hit with B and my husband (and me too).  So I deem it On the Table.

* I am new to agave.  This is my first try with it.  It viscosity is similar to honey, but doesn't have a distinct taste.  It is 1.4 times sweeter than sugar so you don't use it one to one.  It also is lower on the glycemic index, so it doesn't have the same affect on your blood sugar.  Here is more agave information.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On the Table or in the Trash: Skillet Chicken Pot Pie with Biscuit Topping

I have a Cooks Illustrated online membership. I used to get the Cooks Illustrated magazine, but they started to pile up. The website has all the recipes, plus video, equipment reviews and taste tests. When I am looking for a new recipe to try, it's almost a guarantee that Cooks has the best recipe. I rarely have a recipe from them that doesn't work. I was looking for a chicken pot pie recipe and found this one.

Serves 4

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (10 ounces), plus extra for the work surface
2 teaspoons sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
Table salt and ground black pepper
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 medium onion , minced (about 1 cup)
1 rib celery , sliced thin
1/4 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup dry vermouth or dry white wine
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves
2 cups frozen peas and carrots , thawed
1. For the biscuits: Adjust an oven rack to the upper-middle position and heat the oven to 450 degrees.

2. Whisk the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in the cream with a wooden spoon until a dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds.

3. Pat the dough into a 3/4-inch-thick circle. Cut the biscuits into rounds using a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter or cut into 8 wedges using a knife.

4. Place the biscuits on a parchment paper-lined baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes. Set aside on a wire rack.

5. For the filling: While the biscuits bake, pat the chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper. Melt 2 tablespoons of the butter in a 12-inch skillet over medium heat until the foam subsides. Brown the chicken lightly on both sides, about 5 minutes total. Transfer the chicken to a clean plate.

6. Add the remaining 2 tablespoons butter to the skillet and return to medium heat until melted. Add the onion, celery, and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook until the onion is softened, about 5 minutes. Stir in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until incorporated, about 1 minute.

7. Stir in the vermouth and cook until evaporated, about 30 seconds. Slowly whisk in the broth, cream, and thyme, and bring to a simmer. Nestle the chicken into the sauce, cover, and cook over medium-low heat until the thickest part of the breast registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, 8 to 10 minutes.

8. Transfer the chicken to a plate. Stir the peas and carrots into the sauce and simmer until heated through, about 2 minutes. When the chicken is cool enough to handle, cut or shred it into bite-sized pieces and return it to the skillet. Season the filling with salt and pepper to taste.

9. For serving: Place the cooked biscuits on top of the skillet or individual servings.

I was surprised how good this was.  Every bite was filled with flavor.  There isn't any tweeks to make to this perfect dish.  And I did make the biscuits - so easy!  Definitely On the Table.  

Friday, February 20, 2009

B's Friday Outfit

We had some friends coming over today, so B got dressed up and wore pink camo pants instead of jeans.  Here she is after they left.  She is playing on the "jail".

I normally just buy B jeans, but I found these for 5 dollars at the local resale shop.  I couldn't decide if I should keep them or return the pants, but B wanted to wear them, so they stayed.   She looks cute in them.  Tomboyish, but she still looks like a girl.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

B Likes to Jump

I bought B some really cute pink sandals from Target.  She put them on and started running and jumping around.  She started jumping from the first step, them decided she was good enough to jump from the second.  

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

B's Wednesday Outfit

I try to take a photo of B every day, but sometimes she holds her hand out like a traffic cop and says "no picture."  Today, she asked me to get the camera and snap away.  She picked this sweater out.  I had a nice colorful one to wear - oh and she faked me out too. She approved one sweater and I got it half way on when she said, "no, not this one."  I do like this sweater, I just don't like it with grey jeans  - the only jeans she had clean.  I tried to get her to wear her denim skirt, but she wanted jeans.  Just like me.  

I asked B if she wanted to wear a headband, she said yes.

But you can see, it wasn't going to stay on for the day.

I was thinking, I buy her all these clothes, and she always looks like a ragamuffin.  I have these cute little outfits in mind, and B won't go for it.  I have the cutest Boden dress for the fall and every week I try to get B to wear.  "No thank you" she says.  Ahhhhh.......  I could save a ton of money if I just bought jeans, tees and hoodies.  I forgot, she would add fancy shoes.  go figure.  

Monday, February 16, 2009

A First: A Fantastic Valentines Day

I am not a romantic.  Not At All.  So, Valentines Day really holds no allure.  I did make cards to send to my family.  I bought B new trains, sent my Mom some caramel.  I certainly wasn't expecting a present from my husband.  Neither of us are big present buyers.  We buy stuff as we go along.  We hardly buy cards for special occasions.  But Saturday morning, my husband gave me a Cuisinart Ice Cream maker.   I have been wanting one forever.  (I like to make ice cream and the freezer bowl types took a lot of forethought.   This, you just plug in and freeze your base.  Well, I guess it takes a little forethought to make base.  But in this machine, you can freeze batch after batch.  I made vanilla chocolate chip  and chocolate with peanut butter cups yesterday.)  Anyway, you could have knocked me over with a feather.  I cannot remember the last time I was that surprised.  I may be weird, but nothing says love like an appliance you have have been dying to get.   

The great day continued.  B was well behaved and took a nap.  We all went for a "romantic" dinner at sushi dinner.   Then for ice cream at 318.  It was a great day.  Here is a photo of the ice cream maker.  

On the Table or in the Trash: Soft Sugar Cookies with Frosting

B loves frosted roll out cookies.  I have made Martha Stewart's sugar cookies recipe with royal icing and they were good, but I wanted a better frosting.  Frosting that is frosting, not icing.  I found this recipe somewhere online - unfortunately, I do not remember where.  I copied it and emailed to myself.  

Soft Sugar Cookie Recipe

1 c butter
1 c sugar

3 eggs beaten
1 t vanilla

Sift and mix into sugar mixture:
3 c flour
2 t cream of tartar
1 t baking soda
1 t ground nutmeg

Roll dough on a lightly floured surface and cut with a simple cookie cutter. Roll about 1/2 inch thick.  *THis is a really soft dough, try not to add too much flour so your cookies will stay soft and moist.
Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes or until lightly golden.

My Notes:  I did not add the nutmeg.  I formed the dough in a disk and refrigerated it for about an hour.  Then I rolled it out between 2 pieces of parchment.  The dough is very sticky.  Use a simple cutter is right, I tried snowflakes and they looked like lumpy stars after I baked the cookies.  I also chilled the cutouts on the parchment covered cookie sheet before I baked them.  I thought this might help maintain the shape.  

Basic Frosting Recipe:

1/3 c butter
3 c powdered sugar
3 T cream or milk
1.5 t vanilla

Beat together all ingredients until smooth.

My Notes: This frosting needed way more cream to make it spreadable.  And don't forget to sift the powdered sugar.  

All in all the result was a tasty.  Not pretty, but good.  In this photo, I used a round cutter and my daughter picked the color (also not pretty).   If you are not looking for a cookie with a crisp edge, this is a winner.  Verdict: On the Table.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

B's Thursday Outfit

This is what B picked to wear today.  I am not a huge fan of navy pants - kind of catholic school uniform, but I rolled up the bottom a la Crewcuts and it helped.  Perfect since this is a Crewcuts outfit.  Hat, shirt and pants.  Those are her new Saucony gym shoes she got the other day.  The hat came today.  B has been wearing my husband's baseball hats, so I finally ordered her one of her own.  B has a peanut head, so it is a little big.  Now, if I can find a girly baseball hat, all will be well.  

My Nose Sucks

And  I don't mean it sucks to look at, cause it does.  My left nostril is tickling and burning and I want to rip it off.  My nose keeps running - so bad I shove a Puff up there when I sleep.  I have tried benedryl, nasonex, entex pse, nothing works. Is is allergies?  I made an appointment with a chiropractor who did BioSET on me 4 years ago.  Maybe it has worn off.  I don't know, but I am miserable.  

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

B Makes a Splash

The goal was to make it to the Thomas store.  We walked a block before B found this puddle.  We played for about 1/2 hour.  B found leaves and rocks and sticks to throw in the puddle.  She also jumped and kicked and splashed.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

B's Tuesday Outfit

B did not want to wake up this morning.  Shocker.  I knew she would play outside at school today, so jeans were a good bet.  She picked out the shirt (new from Boden) and shoes.  The shoes are new.  Picked picked them out yesterday when we were shopping.  Sparkly, but she likes them.  

These are B's new rain boots.  We went outside to play in the melted snow puddles after lunch.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Craft Alert: Valentine Heart Flowers Idea Courtesy of No Time for Flashcards

One of my favorite blogs is No Time for Flashcards.  Allie features a daily craft she does with her son.  She has great ideas.  I thought B could make the Bouquet of Hearts to give to my sister for Valentines Day.  Paper, glitter glue, pipe cleaners.  This was so easy and the results are great!

I may have B do a couple more to give to her teachers for Valentines.  

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Mini Boden has Arrived

I have received several of the items I ordered from Mini Boden and Boden.  Tuesday,  I received the Vintage Print T-shirt in 2-3y.  This is the smallest size offered, so I got it an hope it fits.  It looks big.  I love Boden but am so confused by the sizing.  Some stuff runs big, some small.  Boden says they have  new single sizes, but I found very little.  B wears a 3 in tops at J. Crew and a 2 in the pants (small and x-small).  In Boden I bought 1.5 -2y and 2-3y.  As I get the stuff I probably should have ordered all 2-3y, but I was afraid it would be huge.    I consulted their measurements, and thought clothes for a 38.5 inch child would be too long on my munchkin.   My problem all around is how much will she grow.  I probably shouldn't buy so much so early, but I can't help it.  

Vintage Print T-shirt
USPS brought a bunch of stuff on Wednesday.  The Fifties Bikini in pink, size 1.2 -2y.  This fit very well.  In fact, B saw it, put it right on and took a nap in it. 

Fifties Bikini

Just tried these on B.  They looked too little but they fit.
Stripy Sweatshorts

I am exchanging these.  These are the same size as the last
summer's pair, but an inch shorter.
Cropped Sweatpants

 I ordered this to wear under the Vintage Print T.  Even though
it is a size smaller, they are roughly the same size. May exchange for next size. 
B needs to try it on.
Boat Neck T-shirt

I thought this would be cute to wear to the park.  I do like
that all the drawstrings shown are functional.
Jersey Skort

This came yesterday.  It fit B perfectly.  Should I exchange it
for the bigger size?  Or just buy another if she outgrows it?  

Jersey Lined Anorak

 I want to get these to go with the jacket.
Just not sure what size to buy.

Hunter Kids Young Hunter (Toddler/Youth)

I am still waiting on  some other items for B.

What came for me?

Double Layer Twisted Top

Essential Crew

Ruffle Bikini Vest
Ruffle Bikini Vest in GRA (not sure the color name)

All seem to fit well.  I am still waiting for the bathing suit bottoms.  I have to say, I like the detail Boden gives with size charts.  Measurements for both you body and for the actual garment.  It really helped with purchasing my clothes.  With B, it is more a crapshoot.  The clothes sizes don't seem to be as consistent.  Hopefully Rod (the mailman) brings another package today.  

B's Thursday's Outfit

We were running late, again.  I brought a couple of choices to B this morning.  She chose the jeans and the T, I added the tank.  I wanted her to wear her tan Uggs, but she is into her Pumas right now.  Oh, and her hair.  Well, no brush is allowed to touch her head.  Arg!

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

B's Tuesday Outfit

Today is a school day.  B woke up late - 8:10.  She was not motivated to get dressed, yet she picked out this skirt and t-shirt.  I added the socks and hoodie.  I had  "Just Curious" on the TV, so she wouldn't notice I was dressing her.  I couldn't even get her to look at me.  The socks are supposed to be knee socks, but they are soooo long, they are over-the-knee socks.  They must be a Crewcuts small, instead of x-small.   I wasn't thinking this morning that it would be cold outside, I thought it was in the 20's, it wasn't.  No hats, no mitts, and it was 8 degrees.  Officially earning me the bad mother title.  Oh well at least B looks cute.  

B's Monday Outfit

We went to my Mom's today.  B picked out the skirt and tights, I picked the sweater.  I asked her to grab a hat to wear, and this is what she picked. My Husband's hat and her earmuffs.  

She found this hat (and Frosty) at my Mom's house.

Monday, February 2, 2009

Meet Harold: The Newest Member of Our Family

B has been asking for a blue fish for awhile now.  Our Whole Food's has two great fish tanks B loves to visit. She also asks to go to PetSmart to see the fish there.  I told her we would get a fish when it warmed up - who wants to take a fish outside when it's only 10 degrees?  Saturday was a warm day and she kept asking for a blue fish, so we went to PetSmart to look.  My plan was to get a betta, small bowl, and some food.  I got a little worried when my husband was looking at bigger tanks, wondering about all the fish and stuff.  I think he thought I wanted more, I was thinking he wanted more.  We got on the same page and came home with a small tank, a coupe of live plants, water conditioner, food, and of course, Harold.  


Harold's New Digs

Now the problem.  Even though I told B you cannot hold and cuddle fish, she didn't understand.  We brought Harold home and a breakdown ensued when B couldn't hold him.  Something else, Anna the cat was very interested in Harold.  We rigged a top so Anna can't go fishing and convinced B Harold needs to stay in the water.  We also watch B (and Anna) like a hawk.  Here's to Harold's long and happy life on James Street.

On the Table or in the Trash: Breakfast Tart - Williams Sonoma

In the last couple of Williams Sonoma Catalogs, there has been a recipe for a Breakfast Tart.  I bought all the ingredients to make it last weekend, but forgot to thaw the puff pastry.  My Husband reminded me on Saturday to throw it in the fridge, and we made it Sunday morning.  I forgot to take a photo, but here is the one form the catalog.  

Breakfast Tart

It pretty much looked like this.  Smaller though.  I used Trader Joe's puff pastry, which is a smaller portion.  I also think I needed to dock the middle more, it puffed up too much during the first bake, so when I cracked the eggs over top, some white ran off.  Also, I would use 4 eggs, so everyone gets one (the recipe states it serves 4). It also took a bit of time to make, but it was delicious.  Perfect if you are having a brunch or even a nice dinner.  Verdict?  On the Table.