Thursday, February 20, 2014

Baked Salmon with Goat Cheese Tart and Argula Salad

Prior to starting this blog, I never gave much thought into what it takes to get a really good picture of food. Let me tell you, it can be quite hard. The more I cook, the more I started paying attention to things like plating, but I am still amazed at how something that can look so amazing in person, can look far from it in a picture. 
Of course, I would end up with less than satisfactory pictures for a three part recipe too!!! Don't let the pictures turn you off, this meal was so good, and given how quickly it all came together, I couldn't believe how fancy it seems.

Let's start off with the Salmon.

What you'll need:
2 - 8 oz wild caught salmon fillets
Grey Poupon
Bread Crumbs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Wash the salmon, take a knife and spread a layer of Grey Poupon evenly across the fillet (be careful, you can put on too much), sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake for 20 minutes.


For the salad, combine 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil, Sea salt and ground black pepper with 2 cups packed baby arugula or mixed salad greens. 

For the tart, here's what you'll need:

1/2 cup almonds
3/4 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2  tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into small pieces      
3  tablespoons honey     
1/3 cup fig spread
3 ounces fresh goat cheese, crumbled

In a food processor, chop the almonds with 1/4 a cup of flour until coarsely chopped, add the remaining flour and butter to the mixture and run the processor again. Pour in the honey, and run for a bit more until lumps begin to form. Scrape down as needed.

Spread the mixture into a 9 in tart pan, freeze for 15 minutes, then bake in an oven at 375 for 12 - 15 minutes. Remove from the oven, spread the fig spread evenly, add the crumbled goat cheese and bake for an additional 8 - 10 minutes. Allow to cools slightly, then serve.

The tart comes together so quickly, it is a nice dish to add to any dinner party, celebration, or just a weekday dinner, it's that easy! Enjoy!

**The salad and tart recipe came from Whole Foods

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Weekend Update

I hope all of you were able to stay warm from the snow. We had a surprisingly busy weekend, jam packed with events. Little Girl and I went to a production of Pinkalicious the Musical. We have a number of Pinkalicious books, and Little Girl loves all things pink, so it sounded like a good fit.

After watching the show, I have to say, Pinkalicious is actually my least favorite of the series, she's a lot nicer and considerably less bratty in the other stories, so I was sad to see the musical is primarily about the original book. Little Girl was a little overwhelmed by the experience, there were a ton of people, the actors and actresses didn't look identical to the characters in the book, so that thru her off a bit, and she wasn't used to going that long without being able to ask me a question :) All in all, I think she did enjoy it though, and it was fun to take her out to a show.

As if that theatrical performance wasn't enough, I had tickets that evening to Camelot at the Cincinnati Ballet. It was a brand new production, and they have incorporated some really neat lighting/computer visuals that enhanced the background and scene. I realized on my way to the show that I didn't even know the story of Camelot, I had heard the names of the key players, but I had no idea how tragic of a story it was. The ballet was really good, poor Lancelot actually took a tumble on his way our for the curtain call, after dancing beautifully for 2 hours, my lasting memory of this show will always include him just sitting on the ground taking his bow from there (I don't think he was hurt, he got up later, but he was definitely shocked that he slipped and fell).

This morning then, we went out for a quick bite at Panera before coming back to play in the snow. While we were out though, we stopped in our local bookstore in search of an Indestricables book. We went to our public library the morning before and I stumbled upon a new and approved "board
 book. Instead of the traditional hard book, that was supposed to be sturdy enough for a baby to "read" and not destroy (but in reality, enjoy drool and chewing could still destroy), these books have a more normal weight of paper, but it's washable, chewable. ..  Here's what Amazon has to say about them :

  • Indestructibles are the books built for the way babies read. They are 100 percent baby-proof, chew-proof, rip-proof, and drool-proof. Printed on a unique nontoxic, paperlike material that holds up to anything babies can throw at it—gumming, spilling, dragging across the floor— Indestructibles are the little books that could. They’re indestructible. And if they get dirty, just throw them in the washing machine or dishwasher.

As much as I love the library, there was no way I was going to check out a book that is made for a baby to chew on. So, we set out to find it, and we did! We picked up two today, Baby Faces and Hickory Dickory Dock. There are very few, to no words inside the books, but the pictures are nice. the RLG sat and read the book for quite a while, then he moved on to chewing it for a while longer.
The spine of the book is sewn, so there is no glue. I'm not sure what material they made the pages out of, but the one I saw at the library, while clearly it had been used, the colors were still very bright, and the edges were all still nice and solid.

Books, YUM! RLG approved.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Chocolate Pancakes

Well, three weeks into the new year and I am already behind on my self-imposed goal of weekly updates. . .I did a fair amount of cooking over the long weekend and was planning a post with a fun quesadilla I made on Saturday, but as fate would have it, we were snowed in this morning and sometimes being stuck in the house, unable to go to work can prompt me to try something new.

While I may not have been able to physically drive to work today, I still had a number of calls I needed to attend to, so in effort to keep the kiddies entertained and semi-quiet I decided to make a dark chocolate pancake.

I guess I should back up a little more. . . a few weeks ago, when I was updating my Amazon subscriptions I stumbled upon Hershey's Special Dark coco powder. After doing some reading, I found that its a fairly scarce product that a number of home cooks have had trouble finding. At the time, the only option I could find was a 6-pack. So, as you may guess, I have been making a lot with dark chocolate lately since I have plenty handy.

I don't know about you, but I get asked all the time to make pancakes by the little girl, typically I can only make them on the weekend, but she was eager to take advantage of an extra morning of me being at home.

What you'll need:
1 c flour
1/3 c Hershey's Special Dark powder
1/4 c. sugar
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp s  alt
1 cup milk
1 TBSP flax seed + 3 TBSP water (OR 1 egg)
1 tsp vanilla
2 TBSP olive oil + more for pan
1/3 cup mini chocolate chips

Step 1 -Start by combining the dry ingredients (flour, sugar, powder, coco powder, salt)
Step 2 - Combine the rest of the ingredients
Step 3 - Combine dry and wet, add mini chocolate chips
Step 4 - Heat oil in pan, let mix sit for 10 minute to thicken, cook 3 - 4 minutes per side

YUM! These were so good the kids didn't even want anything else on top. And in case you were wondering, having a 4 year old babysit her two brothers only goes smoothly for a few minutes. Sh

How could I say no to this face asking for pancakes???

Saturday, January 11, 2014


I don’t know about you, but grazing between meals helps me make it through the day. My family can attest that you do not want to see me hungry!!! I’ve tried a variety of bars and trail mixes but some bars can be quite high in calories and fat and trail mixes taste great, but I find myself mindlessly pouring out a little more and then over eating instead of just getting a quick snack.
Enter Graze. Several months ago I stumbled upon an ad for, a subscription snack service. Normally this type of thing wouldn’t appeal to me, but the first month was free with a promo code, so I figured I could give it a try and then cancel if I didn’t like it. Fast forward several months, and I am completely hooked. Graze does several things right, first, they have a large variety of snacks/bars/mixes of both the sweet and savory varieties and while they allow you to offer some input to what you’ll receive through rankings, each box is a fun surprise of tasty snacks.
I have gone with the four snack box, so I receive four portion controlled snacks, they come with a sheet that includes nutrition facts and ingredient lists are available on their website. All the snacks are preservative and color free, so I don’t have to worry about chemicals making their way into any of these products. And, best of all, each box is only $6 (including shipping!). So far, I have found haven’t found a snack that I haven’t liked. Here’s a rundown of some of my most recent treats:
Olive and Rosemary Bruschetta -  I knew from the name alone this would be a hit, there was a mix of mini cracker type items wonderfully flavored
Fruit and Seed Flapjack – Flapjack = bar, I was very surprised by this one, instead of being hard and over processed, it had a softer texture even with a dense oat, fruit and seed appearance, this bar was amazing. I have a Summer Berry Flapjack in my most  recent box that I am anxious to try as well.
Dark Rocky Road – For those of you with a sweet tooth, there are plenty of options with chocolate, this snack is a mix of dark chocolate buttons, cranberries and pecans. Sticking with the health conscience vision of the company, I have never received more than one snack at a time with chocolate in it, which I think it good.
Tomato and Basil Pizza – This one had a bit of a powdery residue, similar to what you may see cheese flavored chips, I was pleasantly surprised though that it didn’t make a bit mess. I thought I was going to hate eating it at work, but it really wasn’t bad. It tasted great, still wanted to wash my hands afterwards, but it wasn’t a big mess.
Texan Corn Salsa – This was another pleasant surprise. The name would lead you to believe it is a salsa, but in fact, it’s a salsa flavored trail mix. The dried corn was really hard, but it had a great flavor. Not one I would want on a frequent basis, but I wouldn’t mind getting it once or twice over the year.
Poached Pear – I’m not a big pear fan, but in a dried state, I actually liked it, there were lemon raisins included with it. I raised my eyebrows at first, not sure I would like that, but with the pear and pumpkin seeds it was a nice flavor. I never would have but those things together, but I am already making plans for new ways to use my pumpkin seeds next fall.
After eating each snack, I can go in and update my thoughts on the snack on their sight so they can factor that into my future orders. They try to provide a mix of things they know you’ll love, as well as some items designed to stretch your pallet. I definitely don’t find myself getting bored with the graze boxes.
This review was my personal opinion, I have no connection to Graze other than being a customer since the fall. If you are interested though, I have a invitation code that is sent with each order, if you enter this,  you will receive your first and fifth boxes free! Happy grazing J
Invitation code: YHKXZ95KB

Friday, January 3, 2014

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014! While I am not usually one for resolutions, I am going to make it a goal to get back to posting in this space on a more frequent basis. A lot happened in 2013 that I'm sad I didn't post more for future reference, so, I'm going to try to cram the last 4 months highlights into one post, then we'll get back to normal food posts. . .

Thinking about having teeth someday. . .

In September, I returned to work from maternity leave, which meant in addition to the cooking, hugs, cleaning and laundry that is necessary to keep a family of 5 operational, I was also out of the house for 9 - 10 hours each day. The RLG (Really Little Guy) was very predictable with his night time sleep pattern, so while I was still waking up each night, my body was use to it. I did a great job working out in September, dragging myself out of bed at least 4 mornings a week before work to do P90X, followed by green smoothie when I was done. Surprisingly, Little Girl loves green smoothies too, so I would make  little extra for her. As long as there is some peanut butter in there, she's happy.

Also in September our county hosted a farm day. I believe they have been doing this for some time, but I hadn't heard of it before this year. The two older kids, their grandma and I visited 3 of 14 farms that were hosting events one Saturday. We started off at a Pumpkin Patch going on what could be the saddest hay ride ever. We went about 100 yards and ended up a ground plot not any larger than my garage with the pumpkins pre-picked, placed around the edge of the plot. . .At this point I was thinking I should have just bought the pumpkins from the bins in front of Kroger. . . The second farm was much better, it was a dairy farm, we were able to visit with the cows, learned about every step of the process and even sample ice cream made in an old fashioned wooden ice cream maker. We even say some baby cows, come to find out, they like sucking on fingers just like human babies. Our final stop was at a horse farm. It was quite far away, but worth the extra driving. They had an arena where we could watch demonstrations of different types of show horses and their resident vet would answer questions specific to each horse. I can't wait until next year to visit some more farms, apparently our neighboring county has a similar type of farm day, so I may check that out in 2014 as well.

In October, my Chief Food Critic traveled quite a bit for work, so my work-outs started to struggle a bit, and I didn't have a chance to make many new recipes. I did manage to make the same 3 dishes several times. . .pumpkin soup (I don't know how to survived without a Vitamix before, it makes the soup SOOOOO much better than using the immersion blender), eggplant parmesan (baked not fried), and a vegetable macaroni and cheese. I have made a number of varieties of the vegetable mac and cheese, it's usually quite light on the cheese, very heavy on the veggies, and overall a delicious dish. The month finished with a stormy Halloween, due to the impending fright of a horrible thunder storm, all the kids came to our house in a 40 minute window. It was kinda nice having them all together. The next day we headed to Indianapolis for the Monumental Marathon.

My Chief Food Critic was making his valiant return to marathoning, he's battled a number of injuries that have kept him out of marathoning for a few years. My brother and sister in law were running as well, so I had their daughter, along with our three for spectating. It was chilly, but the we bundled up, packed lots of goodies and found a coffee shop around the 8 mile mark to enjoy some hot chocolate while we waited. I think having good spectators can really help runners make it through, our runners were happy to see us, we saw everyone at least once, with a couple people twice. I had the RLG strapped to me in a bjorn and three toddlers in a wagon, so I was restricted in the speed at which I could get from spot to spot, cow bell, glittery signs and all.

Following the race, we had so much fun swimming in the hotel pool, we decided to take advantage of a free rewards night in Louisville to visit some relatives while partaking in another weekend of swimming. Ultimately, all of the swimming weekends helped get us ready for our 10 day Orlando vacation in December.

Flying with three kids was an adventure, luckily the kiddies were all good flying down there and everyone around us seemed to be "kid people", on the flight back though. . .well first my Chief Food Critic was upgraded, so him and RLG sat in first class, while the other two and I sat in "normal" seats. The flight staff seemed appalled that he would leave me behind, but he ended up with a crying child half the flight and the extra room in the seats and the ability to lounge back more helped out, I didn't mind. We both noticed the flight crew leaving Orlando was not nearly as kid friendly though. I don't have any facts on this, but I would have to think that Orlando sees more kids going in and out than most airports in the country, wouldn't you think the flight crews that go there would be warmer towards kids?

Here they are going on a ride together (without parents!!!), so they held on to each other to make sure they didn't get lost.
Anyway. . .we went SeaWorld, Disney's Magic Kingdom and the Orlando Science Center while we were there. If you go to Orlando with younger kids, I highly recommend the Orlando Science Center for a break from the parks, they have a ton of hands on activities so the kids can play. I was actually looking for more of a museum, but as it turns out, it was  a great fit for what the kiddies needed. They even had a traveling Sesame Street display there, where they could actually play aside statues and pictures of some of their favorite monster friends. We ended up with season passes to SeaWorld, so we went three times! There Christmas shows were a lot of fun, if you have the chance to go there during December, make sure you go one of the days they have their special shows.

One of the many neat things at the Orlando Science Center. . .this area is an Orange production. . .the kids can pick the oranges, put them in the carts, then put them through the packaging machine. ..and then magically the orange tree grows more, even I had more fun with this one.
RLG and me enjoying the beach at the Grand Flordian. . .what a view!
We came back from Orlando and had only a handful of days before Santa arrived at our house. We had a great Christmas, seeing our family, but it was really nice to come home on December 26 to be able to start putting things away and cleaning up from both trips and Christmas. It took a few days of solid effort, but we got there and the house if finally clean!!!

Now, we are hoping to get back on track for 2014. . .this guy found his first tooth on New Years Eve. . .and then had his first cereal on New Years Day. So far, it's been a great year!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Eggplant Parmesean and Broccolini Pasta

Believe it or not, I made Eggplant Parmesan for the first time recently. I'm not sure how it took this long for me to make it, but I have already made it several more times, and my Chief Food Critic has already declared this as a household favorite that we need to eat on a regular basis.

There are lots of options you can do for sides, you could do a simple steamed veggie, some herbed pasta, or, like I did today, a combination of the two.

You may have noticed that most Eggplant Parmesan recipes floating round require you to fry the eggplant, which adds a lot of unneeded calories to a dish that easily can be made in a healthier way.

Martha served as my inspiration for this dish, to see the original, see here:

What you'll need:

Eggplant Parmesan (serves 2 adults)
1 Eggplant
3/4 cup bread crumbs
2 TBSP Italian Parsley, fresh, chopped
1 TBSP Basil, chopped
1 TBSP finely shredded parmesan
1 Egg
1/4 cup water
1 jar of your favorite pasta sauce, I recommend Whole Foods Roasted Vegetable sauce
Olive oil

Broccolini Pasta
1 lb cavatappi pasta
1 clove of garlic, chopped
1 bushel of broccolini
1 cup diced tomatoes
1 cup loose Italian Parsley leaves, chopped
Olive oil

First off. . .make sure all babies in the vicinity are happy and being held.

Ok, now that RLG is being taken care of, to tonight's entrée. . .start by slicing your eggplant to a half and inch or less slices. Combine the egg and water in one dish, stir and set aside. Combine the breadcrumbs, parsley,  basil and parmesan in another dish.
Prepare a cookie sheet by coating with olive oil and preheat your oven to 375 degrees.
Take each slice of the eggplant, dip in the egg mixture, turn over, let the excess egg drop off, then drip in the breadcrumb mixture to cover. Place the eggplant slice on the cookie sheet, repeat with the remaining slices of eggplant.
Bake the eggplant for 20 minutes, flip all the pieces, bake for another 20 minutes, then remove from the oven.

Raise the oven heat to 400 degrees.

Prepare a baking dish by coating the bottom with some sauce, then layer eggplant slices with mozzarella slices and more sauce, topping the top (sorry, there has to be a better way to say that then "topping the top" but I have baby brain at the moment and "topping the top" is the best I have), with some shredded parmesan.

Bake for another 15-20 minutes. Let stand for 5 minutes.
YUM!!! But wait. . .we still need our side dish!!!

While the eggplant is baking, bring a large pot of water to boil, add the cavatappi and boil until tender. Drain, set aside. 
In a separate pan, heat some oil and sauté the broccolini, add the diced tomatoes and continue to cook until warm.
Return the pasta to the pan, add the broccolini and tomato mixture and sprinkle with olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

And now, time to eat!

Monday, August 19, 2013

Introducing RLG - Real Little Guy

Greetings! I know, it's been a while since I have posted, the last few months have been a little hectic at our house, we had a new bundle of joy join our family, so as you can imagine, the last few weeks of the pregnancy I wasn't too energetic where new recipes were concerned. I did cook a lot of our favorites, but nothing post worthy.

Little Girl, RLG, and Little Guy. . .this was taken around 9:30 in the morning, after dragging them out of bed at 3 am, the look pretty good for not sleeping much
The family before we left the hospital

Three kids with three handmade blankies from their aunt

Before we jump back into the kitchen though, let me introduce, Real Little Guy. . .or RLG as we've been calling him. We opted to be surprised this time around since we already had a girl and a boy.  So far, everyone seems to be getting along well, Little Girl and Little Guy enjoy helping out as much as they can.

RLG enjoys an afternoon nap