Friday, December 30, 2016


{G.G.had to take a panorama shot before
we ate thus annoying her siblings just a bit}
I hope everyone had a very merry winter break.  We had a lovely holiday together with all three kids at home. Kaylee came from Brooklyn, Tristan from Iowa City, and Groovy Girl emerged from her lonely only child funk to enjoy her siblings.  It's tough to be the youngest.

I'm enjoying this last little bit of break by catching up on sleep, on a few shows I like (This Is Us, Empire, and Atlanta), and end-of-the-year reading, more about that in my next post.

My refrigerator is full of leftovers so I do NOT have to worry about cooking for a few l-o-n-g days. Everything I made for our Christmas meal was fantastic!  This is unusual my friends. Normally something goes wrong just by the law of averages. Prepping in the two days before helped me immensely. It's a little weird to spread recipe love before you've actually made them so here is what worked:

Turkey brining is always the way to go. I brined it outside for about 24 hours in my grandmother's crock with snow packed around the outside. I let the gorgeous 12-lb bird air rest in the fridge. It cooked in about 2 hours and it was very tender and flavorful with a crispy skin. I also thanked the bird for giving its life for us to sustain us. To counterbalance this meat at our table Tristan's vegan girlfriend brought a Gardein turkey roll with it's own gravy and it was good also. We've always loved to mix up our meals and almost everyone tried some of the turkey roll. I did not follow Emeril's brining recipe to a T; just simplified it to the bare minimum. I did stuff the turkey as per his recipe though.

Wild Rice and butternut squash-huge hit. I will make this again and I have enough leftover for lunches. I forgot how much I like wild rice. The whole carrots-delicious as well.

I did a trial run on the sweet potato dish from Thug Kitchen and while I liked it, I didn't think my people would love it so i scrapped that recipe for simple baked then smashed together. No brown sugar, no marshmallows; just the deliciousness of sweet pots.  Love 'em.

Brussels sprouts were amazing. I just cleaned them, halved them (except for little ones), tossed them with coconut oil and olive oil, sea salt, pepper, and roasted them on a baking pan.  They were good although I would have preferred them crispier. It is a fine line between almost burning them and crisp and I've crossed that line before. I served them with shaved parmesan on the side.

Clam Chowder was a huge hit on Christmas Eve but the oyster stew not as much. I don't know if it was the recipe or just something I did; it was lacking the wow! factor.

Enchilada breakfast dish made everyone happy I think. It might have been the mimosas though. But you have to eat and I did play with this recipe adding in our regular green enchilada sauce and made only a 1/2 batch of the heavy cheese sauce. I didn't need it to be THAT cheesy. We had a whole plate load of toppings as well; sour cream, avocados, cherry tomatoes, cilantro, and our own family-made salsa)

I love it when meals come together. It makes everyone happy to sit at the table and know that we are blessed to share food in the same space for just a few days. We are ready to rock another year even when we are not in the same place.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Menu for this holiday week...WOW!

I like planning and putting together meals that everyone will love through the holidays.  Planning truly is half the fun.

I should be cleaning right now and instead I'm plotting and finding recipes. Tomorrow morning it will be the first meal we all have together since-well, we were all in Chicago for Thanksgiving!  Still it will be special around our big table, ready to start the festivities off.

I'm going to make a french toast recipe in my slow cooker.  I can get up early, pour it all in, and then go back to bed and read for a few hours until the eggs are set and the bread is crusty. Breakfast for Christmas morning is going to be an egg enchilada dish with some grits, fruit, and bacon (husband only).

{breakfast enchiladas}
At Mississippi Market in St Paul I located a MN farm-raised turkey and my husband picked it up today before he picked up our oldest daughter at the airport. Our turkey is now riding home with the two of them-hopefully doing a little un-thawing. I spent days and many phone calls trying to find an Iowa turkey but none were available.  We have not had a turkey for years. I've been creative over the years making meatless or fish meals. While we were in Chicago over Thanksgiving though Groovy Girl mentioned that she didn't remember EVER having had a "traditional" meal. She's exceptional.
{squash and wild rice}
While I'm not one for tradition I thought it would be fun to give it a go for Christmas. I plan to brine the bird just like my mom and I used to do years ago. I'm not even a fan of turkey but we'll see how this one turns out. I hope Groovy Girl will be happy with the results. That meal will be rounded out with cranberries, butternut squash/wild rice dish (if I change the honey for maple syrup it will be vegan), some roasted sweet potatoes (I just found this recipe in the **Thug Kitchen 101, roasted brussels sprouts with shaved parmesan (on the side), regular mashed potatoes and gravy, whole carrots roasted, maybe a small salad (it makes me happy). What a whole lot of love this will be. I plan on dinner lasting at least an hour.  Groovy Son's girlfriend is coming over after work so that is why so many vegan dishes are infused into our meal. I heartily laugh about the fact that she became a vegan as he complained for years about eating mainly vegetarian as a child until we added in sustainable local meat.  I seriously love the universe. Our meals over the years did teach him to be a flexible, more versatile eater which is just a good thing for anyone.

So anxious was I about our amazing meal that I jumped ahead with the Christmas dinner paragraph. Backing up to Christmas Eve; also a tangle of recipes because I grew up with homemade oyster stew and champagne.  I love oyster stew and champagne!  I've never been a vegetarian that couldn't eat a little fish along the way.  My husband happens to be allergic to shellfish.  I know. Almost a deal breaker. I started making clam chowder as a replacement. It does not hold the same appeal though. Clam chowder is like oyster stews' half cousin, twice removed. So this year I'm making a small batch of BOTH! I found a recipe on Epicurious that takes it up a notch or two-no once removed and will see how it fares. Yes. Enough for all to have some of each except the husband. We'll have baguettes and salad to go with this meal.

Are you hungry now?  I am.

**I have this in my house b/c it is the girlfriend's Christmas gift. I read a review somewhere about this book and wanted to check it out anyway and then it appeared on her wish list so win/win. It's definitely cheeky and the recipes are appealing.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Weekly Recipes; Food for thought

I haven't posted any weekly recipe posts for quite awhile because I feel like I haven't been cooking. Of course we've still eaten dinner but with my husband gone every night for rehearsals - Rocky Horror Show - right now so dinner is usually something I can quickly pull together before we head to dance. Making pasta, soup, or the occasional grilled cheese for Groovy Girl allows me to eat dinner how I like which is a small plate of crackers, cheese, and some fruit/veggie or blue chips and homemade salsa.  I tend to be hungry right after school depending on what I had for lunch and I feel better when I eat mini-meals. My husband, the athlete, always-on-the-go, needs a full meal.

That said this morning I was inspired to whip up some waffles.  I have a recipe I've used for years but this morning my head was foggy and I could not recall exactly which recipe book it was in.  In order to not waste precious time I googled for a recipe.  Several links down I spotted Ree Drummond's signature site and clicked to see what she had to say about waffles. Sometimes I just click there to be amused and then move on to different site for another recipe but today hers seemed doable and interesting.  My arm hurts now from whipping up the egg whites but I definitely would make this again and soon with holiday season just a week away.

From Ree's site:



10 Minutes
10 Minutes
8 Servings
  • 2 cups All-purpose Flour
  • 3 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Salt
  • 1/4 cup Sugar
  • 1-1/2 cup Milk
  • 2 whole Egg Yolks
  • 1 Tablespoon Vanilla Extract
  • 1 teaspoon (additional) Vanilla Extract
  • 1 stick (1/2 Cup) Salted Butter, Melted
  • 4 whole Egg Whites
Preheat the waffle iron to the regular setting.

Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar in a bowl. 

In a separate bowl, whisk together milk, 2 egg yolks, and vanilla. Pour over the dry ingredients and very gently stir until halfway combined. Pour in the melted butter and continue mixing very gently until combined.

In a separate bowl (or using a mixer), beat the egg whites with a whisk until stiff. Slowly fold them into the batter, stopping short of mixing them all the way through.

Scoop the batter into your waffle iron in batches and cook according to its directions (lean toward being a little deep golden and crisp!) Remove and serve immediately with softened butter and warm syrup.

I know it seems labor intensive with the whole egg white thing but I do think it made ours fluffier.  The two teenage girls on sleeping on the sofa complained about my kitchen activity until I told them I was making waffles.  They wrapped themselves in blankets and moved on over to the table as soon as I plated up pretty waffles. I would have taken a photo before they dug in but I've somehow managed to lose my phone somewhere in the house. Enjoy! 

P.S. I made this recipe exactly as it says except I used almond milk.
P.P.S. I have one last assignment to turn in for my Google class which has been difficult. I'll be glad once again to not have to think about homework.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

December reading

Ah December. I'm almost done Christmas shopping-YES! I'm in the process of decorating; the tree is up but not one ornament hangs on it yet. I'm crazy with homework; this Google advanced class is far more work than I expected. I am learning a lot so that does make it worth it.

With all the homework I've still managed to read two books so far this month and both were "thrillers".  I think I have to move away from this genre though for bedtime reading. One of the books gave me pre-sleep jitters...I got so involved with the characters and would continue to think about the situation while I trying to go to sleep.

Before the Fall by Noah Hawley (2016); This is the one. Something about Scott's character appealed to me because he was someone who was flawed and admitted it. The first scenes of him in the water with the young boy as they attempt to swim to shore were agonizing for me and I had to keep reading even though it should have been time to put the book down and get some sleep. Each section was a little like that. I appreciated Scott's philosophy throughout the book and felt attuned to the message that we all have a purpose here.  So many interesting characters held together by an excited story line and the political commentary fits so well with what we are experiencing now! Chapters are done in alternating POV so you get to hear and understand from a variety of characters.

Zero Day by Jan Gangsei (2016); I picked this out one afternoon with Groovy Girl at our local library. We were there on a mission to find some good books for her to read, not an easy feat, as she is a picky non-reader. Also she has an English teacher right now who is taking the joy out of the written word. But I digress.

Zero Day takes place in Washington DC and Virginia and is focused on the political scene. Addie Webster, the then Virginia governor's 9-year-old daughter, is kidnapped one day right out of the governor's mansion. Eight years later she resurfaces. Her DNA checks out and she is reunited with her family in the White House.  It's not an easy transition and it is difficult for Addie to realize that her family moved on even without her.  Her kidnapper still has a hold on her though and so while she attempts to fit back into her family she also has to do some weird undercover assignments for her "father/kidnapper" who is the head of an international terrorist group. I like both Jan's writing style and the main idea but it all got a little far-fetched for me.