Halloween Dinner 2015

Admittedly, not my best work but it was fun, nonetheless.

IMG_0184The easiest?  Minibagels with sliced cheese.  Melted under the broiler and then a plastic spider on top for creepy effect.  My daughter was almost insane with anticipation- I asked her to hand me four spiders and then she asked, incessantly, “What are the spiders for, Mumma?”  She was delirious with joy when I showed her the bagels.

IMG_0186Next easiest were the pumpkin eggs.  Hardboil your eggs and devil the filling.  Click here for my version.   Just add the paprika directly to the filling to make it more orange.  IMG_0170

Then fill the egg whites using a pastry bag or a ziplock with the tip cut off.

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I sort of smoothed the filling with my fingers and then used a pumpkin carving tool (the one that comes in the little book with the patterns?) to make the pumpkin lines.

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I then made some thin slices in a peapod for the stem.  You could probably use anything green- scallion, broccoli stem, etc.- for this.

IMG_0175There you have it!  Pumpkin eggs.

IMG_0174Finally, I made monsters with brains.  I’ve been telling the kids for a week that we were going to have brains for dinner and they would always giggle and add, slightly nervously, “But it’s really spaghetti!”

So, make your spaghetti.  If you 1) have tomato sauce and 2) have children that will eat tomato sauce, it would probably look better to have sauced spaghetti for the brains- more “real.”  Neither 1 nor 2 were true for me so plain brains for us it was.

As my kids are unpredictable eaters, I used tiny peppers.  First I sliced a bit off the bottom to make them flat and then cut off the top with the stem.

IMG_0168IMG_0169I used cheese to make the eyes and mouth.  I tried cutting out circles with a straw but was too impatient for that.  So I moved on to an old apple core-er.

IMG_0176 Then it was a matter of getting the cheese to stick to the pepper.  Frustration abounded while I experimented and was successful when I ended up using a toothpick and a dab of miso paste to get the cheese to stick. IMG_0177

For the eyeballs I used a toothpick and a bit of chocolate syrup.

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Stuff the spaghetti (I coated mine in butter and cheese in a desperate attempt to get my kids not to eat it plain) inside the peppers and there you go.

IMG_0185The kids loved it, ate very little of it and went out shortly after for trick or treating.  As we are not a candy family, the novelty has worn off and the candy that is left (we didn’t get much) is promptly being eaten by my husband and myself.  As it should be.

Happy Halloween!

Halloween Approaches….

….and I’m not ready, food-wise!  I always make fun stuff for Halloween but, I gotta tell you, (in what is a recurring theme for this blog) I just don’t have time these days!  I’m cooking, obviously, since we have to eat but nothing very exciting.  No good photos to share with you, no creative recipes, no fun food.  It’s sad but true:  we are in a rut.  A food rut.  A food blogging rut.

I can offer you an example of the boringness that we’re consuming.

Last night it was chicken, potatoes, red peppers (for the kids) and broccoli.  It was good, don’t get me wrong, but just not…. blogworthy.

IMG_0164 IMG_0165 IMG_0166We made pumpkin bread this week but, of course, I don’t have a finished photo.

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They thought it looked like there were “three hands, muma!”

IMG_0162 IMG_0161 IMG_0163It was delicious.

I made a huge pot of the Pioneer Woman’s Chicken and Noodles and I’ve been eating that for the last few days.  I don’t know what to say- I’ve lost some of my cooking joy.  I’m not sure how to get it back but I am certain that it will return.  Please stick with me until it does…

Comfort in a bowl

I’m still here, still cooking, still muddling through life.  Not working as much but more kid activities- swimming lessons, sports classes and that kind of thing.  In all the rush, I managed to take some time for myself and visit with a dear friend (the hippo!) and she was so very kind and loving towards me.  I needed some comfort and she made me Smitten Kitchen’s miso broccoli rice bowl.  It was so very good and exactly what I needed at the time.

I made it again this week and it was just as comforting.  Little tip, when you’re looking for miso, look in the soup section.  I couldn’t find it in the Asian foods section of Whole Foods but did find it in the soup/soup mix area of Wegmens.

This recipe is so easy.  You make your rice (I use a rice cooker), roast or steam your broccoli, roast your sweet potato, heat your black beans and top all of that with the miso dressing from Smitten Kitchen. 

The rice.

IMG_0154Sweet potato, broccoli and black beans added.

IMG_0155Finally, topped with the so yummy and delicious miso dressing.

IMG_0158I sort of wanted to stick my face in it and just inhale the dressing.  It was so good.

IMG_0159Make this now. You won’t regret it.

A Belated Happy Jew-Year

Last week we Jews celebrated the beginning of 5775.  As always, Rosh Hashannah has lots of old favorites around the table- both food and people- and some new additions.  Once again, I cooked for several days and didn’t photograph much…  But I’ll share what I did.

I wish you all a happy, sweet, joyful year.  I’m looking forward to finding my own “roga”- serenity- this year, in whatever form that takes.

Now, on to the food!

IMG_0146Lots of old favorites- roasted chicken, honey glazed carrots, brisket, mashed potatoes, roasted sweet potatoes and a number of other veggies.  This year I also made a sweet and spicy chicken and an apple, walnut tabbouleh that was quite popular.  I’ll link to that recipe at the bottom.

IMG_0138 IMG_0137 IMG_0136 IMG_0135 IMG_0133 IMG_0132 IMG_0131 IMG_0130 IMG_0129IMG_0142We tried a new seating arrangement, putting the food in the dinning room and us eating in the living room. Worked out pretty well and we’re likely to use it again in the future.

IMG_0140 IMG_0141 IMG_0149 IMG_0143IMG_0139This is the tabbouleh, in process.  It was more of a salad- lots of sweet and tart with red onions, apples, pomegranate seeds and parsley.  It was quite good and can be found here.

I’m not cooking as much these days but I’ll be back, I’m sure.  Meanwhile, have a wonderful beginning to 5775!

 

 

“Chopped” at home

Hey there.  It’s all of a sudden back to school for me and the summer is gone!  One of my favorite things about this summer was my daughter’s sudden interest in “Chopped.”  She requests it and then states, firmly and without doubt, “Mama, I know who’s going to get chopped.”  She refuses to tell me because “it’s a surprise.”

Often on the show, the original idea that the chefs have doesn’t work and they have to revamp on the fly.  This happened to me a few nights ago, when I overcooked the broccoli.  Overcooked broccoli is mushy and gross so I decided to create a broccoli cheese puree.  Very Chopped of me.

I can’t really give you a recipe because I made it up and used what I had.  I put the mushy broccoli into the food processor and added garlic powder, parmesan cheese and a whipped cheddar cheese spread (I know! Processed!  But it was left over from a party and it seemed wasteful to throw it out).  At the end, I added a smidgen of melted butter- maybe a tablespoon or so.  I whirred it all around what came out was this:

My HipstaPrint 988444361_2To be fair, it doesn’t photograph well but it was very good.  Green and cheesy, creamy and salty.  Delicious next to the steak and potatoes the husband had requested.  I popped it in the microwave to heat it up before I served it and it was perfect.  Or at least a lot better than the mushy broccoli would have been!

My HipstaPrint 988444361Of course, if it really were chopped, I’d have gone for sure since it’s not very well plated.  But, for the chopped at home game, I’m calling it a win!

 

Fresh

It’s been a long time since I’ve had a CSA. My mum joined one this year and often forgets to pick it up. Which means a phone call to me at the end of the day on Wednesday asking me to go pick it up. Of course I do. For a fee. The fee being, naturally, some of what she has received for the week. A few weeks ago she was away and in return for picking up the bag, I got all the produce.

In it were these.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_4 Know what they are?  I’ll give you a hint, Hannibal Lecter made them famous by saying he ate them as a side dish along with a nice chianti.

Fava beans.

Fresh fava beans are a bit of a pain to get to but in the end, I assure you they are worth it.  They look like lima beans but are nowhere near as mealy in texture and they have a nice, green taste, if that makes sense.  A bit bitter and tart but not overly so.  I ended up making a sort of succotash with mine and it was quite tasty.  The sweetness of the corn balanced nicely with the beans.

Fresh Fava Bean Sauté

Ingredients

about 1-2 pounds of fresh fava beans

2-3 ears of sweet corn

1/2-1 sweet onion

Directions

Prepare your fava beans.  This will take some time.  Get comfy.

First, you need to remove the hard outer shell which is somewhat fuzzy inside.  I tried this two ways.  You can use your knife to widen the slit down the middle.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_17Then pry it open with your fingers.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_11Sort of time shuck the beans out into a bowl.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_6The easier way to remove the beans, is to snap off the top part that has the stem.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_21Then pull it down to the bottom of the pod and the string that comes with it will make it easier to separate the bean pod.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_7My HipstaPrint 973334217_1While you’re doing this, set a pot of water on to boil.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_10Once all the beans are out of the fuzzy pod, add them to the water.  Let them boil for about a minute and then take them out.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_20Let them cool for a minute or two and then you’ll be able to sort of pop the bean out of the waxy coating.

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Do that for all of them.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_24Now you can use them for whatever you’d like.  I made this sort of succotash, as I said.

In a saute pan, melt a bit of butter and some oil- no more than a tablespoon of each.  Peel and chop your onion and add it to the pan.  Let it get soft and melty. Meanwhile, shuck your corn and add it to boiling, well-salted water.  Let it cook for a few minutes (it’s awful, I never time my corn!  I think it’s 4-5 minutes?) and then take it out to cool.  Cut the kernels off (there is no non-messy way to do this so just give in and make a mess) and then add them and the fava beans to the onion.

My HipstaPrint 973334217_18Season with whatever you like- salt and pepper for sure and maybe some garlic powder (or throw in some minced fresh garlic if you have it) or other spices that would compliment your meal (cumin and chili powder if you’re going Mexican, for example). Let it cook a bit so that bits of it get a nice brown color.

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I served mine along with soy balsamic duck and a corn risotto.  The risotto (which I improvised) and the duck (which I overcooked) were not good.  This fava bean succotash was.  Make it today!

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Summer Travels

A few trips are happening just now. Thought I’d share a bit of them with you, and even show some of the food!

This past weekend, the husband and I did an overnight (kid-free) in the “land of love”- the Poconos (Thank you, Groupon).  It was fantastic.  A long drive for just an overnight but still worth it as we tend to be able to get along well in the car.  Chatting, music, napping- it was lovely.

We arrived at the Poconos Palace Resort around 4pm.  We had been talking about how wonderfully old-school and cheesy it was going to be and it did not disappoint.  The entire resort was based on a theme of love mixed with Kellerman’s from Dirty Dancing.  It could not have been better.

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Our room had a circular bed and a heart shaped jacuzzi.IMG_0001 IMG_0003

We were handed a list of activities upon check-in.  (We were too late for most but did check out both the trivia and the Journey tribute band.)

IMG_0004We wandered around and found the lake (y’know, to practice your lifts) and the lovely balcony seating area.

IMG_0013 IMG_0012 IMG_0011We ate a lovely (not gourmet but absolutely filling and tasty) dinner and breakfast in the dinning room.

IMG_0015Before we checked out the band, we played a few games in the game area which included an indoor minigolf course.

IMG_0014 IMG_0016We tried to play shuffleboard but we don’t know the rules.  We made some up.  We also played some video arcade games and lots of pool.

The next morning we engaged in some archery.  Which I have never done before.  I was channeling my inner Katniss.  My husband hasn’t done it since boy scouts so I think between us, we did pretty well.

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Overall, it was a great little overnight trip.

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I am now in Niagara Falls with my mum and kids.  It is the first time for all of us.  We stopped last night in Syracuse and partook of ice cream from Gannon’s, which is one of the 27 places to have ice cream before you die, according to Buzzfeed.

IMG_0034 IMG_0036 IMG_0035It was extremely tasty.

We are now in Niagara Falls, after a particularly awful car trip wherein my oldest lost her cookies and began to scream, spit and hit everyone around her.  I am NOT looking forward to driving her home in a few days.  Meanwhile, though, this is the view from our room:

IMG_0031 IMG_0032 IMG_0033I’ll just sit here and breathe while I look at it.