Oh, asparagus. Why must you come and go in the blink of an eye? How am I supposed to make all the things I want when you are here for such a seemingly short time? I guess I just have to go on an asparagus-eating rampage and make everything I have bookmarked (and the annual favorite, asparagus pancetta hash, of course).

You’ve no doubt seen the famous prosciutto-wrapped asparagus appetizer online or at many a party. Personally, I love it, so it was no surprise I saved this recipe as soon as I saw it. You get the great asparagus-prosciutto combination with the added deliciousness of bread (which also makes it easier to eat and appropriate for a light lunch). The lemon adds brightness and makes this even more undeniably springlike.

We decided to have these toasts for a weekend lunch, and what a nice change of pace they were. We’re admittedly boring when it comes to weekend lunches and generally default to eggs or cold cut sandwiches. I was wondering how Z would like these – he eats 99.9% of what we put in front of him and anything under the general categorical umbrella “food” but he can be a bit of a sandwich purist. This mostly means he doesn’t want a lot on a sandwich, or wants to eat the components separately. But, he loved these (and requested thirds). Ian didn’t eat the prosciutto (I *try* to limit salty stuff at this age so he only has things  like that occasionally) but enjoyed the puree both on toast and on its own.

So tell me, is there an asparagus recipe you love that I must make IMMEDIATELY?

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For a while there, about half our meals were coming from Mexican Everyday, or at least it felt like it. It still remains one of my favorite cookbooks, but I was thinking the other day that it’s been far too long since I’ve made something from it (well, something new that is – both the red chile chicken and rice with black beans and arbol chile salsa have graced our table in the past few weeks).

Since I’ve been big into marinating and not big into, um, too much work lately, I decided to pick a marinade from the book. I went with a quick adobo marinade. Originally I planned on using this with bone-in chicken pieces, but in the end decided to do a pork tenderloin. That said, you can really pick your favorite meat (or vegetable) and this will work well on it. Promise.

For the marinade, you can use either straight chile powder or an ancho chile puree. I opted for the latter because I recently ordered dried ancho chiles instead of ground (oops), so I already had them on hand. Bayless also calls this a “more harmonious” preparation and, really, it’s about as easy to make as dumping some chile powder out, anyway. The marinade was nice and flavorful, but not spicy. Anchos are dried poblanos, which generally do not have a whole lot of heat. Grilling or searing in cast iron and then roasting will give this some smokiness in addition to the small amount of spice.

We had this alongside some spicy sweet potato fries and roasted asparagus, so after the initial preparation, the meal was pretty hands-off and my oven did all the work.

I know this dish requires marinating so if you’re trying to think of a last-minute Cinco de Mayo meal, this may not be for you. Rest assured, though, I have an absolutely insane amount of Mexican dishes in the blog (and a previous round-up) so you have plenty to choose from!

 

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Remember a million years ago when the computer I used for blog pictures up and died? Well, it only just got up and running again (and will probably die again in about 5 minutes). I found a plethora of blog pics where the pictures were actually good  (something I have really been struggling with lately…) but it had been so long that I had no idea what they were. Except for this one, and that’s because even without seeing the pic, it was already on the menu for that very week.

This recipe is pretty easy to remember because it’s one of those dishes where you’re surprised how good it is since it’s so incredibly simple. I mean, it’s not a huge surprise because there’s bacon, potatoes, and sausage, after all, but you know what I mean.

I ate a lot of kielbasa growing up and I don’t know if it was that or other factors but I sort of…stopped eating it. Every once in a while , though, I have this intense craving for it. It’s one of those things where, when I want it I REALLY want it. And when I don’t, I REALLY don’t. Do you have ingredients like that?

Anyway, this dish is perfect for a weeknight, not only because it’s a one-pot meal, but also because it comes together very quickly. The potatoes are microwaved beforehand so you aren’t waiting for them to cook in the skillet, and while you’re heating them you can do other things, like cook the bacon and chop your sausage. I decided to use the bacon fat instead of the olive oil in the recipe because, why use oil when there is perfectly good bacon fat? Other than that and reducing the amount of Dijon by just a little, I stayed pretty true to the recipe. The ingredients in this are incredibly similar to German potato salad so if you like that, you will definitely like this.

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There are a lot of mysteries in the food world, like how do liquid egg whites get beaten into stiff peaks? Why do buttered popcorn jelly beans exist? How come every time you drop a piece of toast, the side with the jelly/butter/peanut butter lands on the floor? Was the guy who invented nachos the most brilliant guy ever? And, the biggest one: Why is Swiss cheese awful and Gruyere so good? I will never know.

This chicken dish is a mouthful (both the title and the actual chicken) but it’s not difficult to make. You just stuff the chicken with some of the best things ever – prosciutto, arugula, and gruyere – cook it for a few minutes on the stove top and then while it’s finishing up in the oven (just a few minutes longer) you make a quick shallot sauce in the pan. It’s a meal that’s both easy to make for your family on a weeknight and also works for a dinner party. And the best part is that even though you wouldn’t know it, it’s also pretty healthy for you.

I feel like a broken record saying this, but we all liked this dish. Though I didn’t give him much with his piece, this was Ian’s first time eating prosciutto and he was a fan (rule of thumb: second children always get salty cured meats sooner).

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There was a (long) period in my life where I was basically keeping Lipton in business. And I’m not just talking about my iced tea addiction (which I still have, thankyouverymuch) but those flavored “pasta sides” packets. Except in my world they weren’t really sides so much as a meal and, man, did I love them. Sure, one package allowed me to reach my sodium limit for a month, but I’m sure that’s what made them so tasty.

Those types of things got kicked to the curb when I started doing more from-scratch cooking and more clean eating. I haven’t had them in a number of years, but that doesn’t mean I don’t still have cravings for something similar from time to time.  This is, of course, why things like creamy taco mac and skillet ground beef stroganoff are very popular dishes in our house.

This dish is simple. You cook the pasta and then you saute a couple of garlic cloves in a little butter and oil, and make a roux which thickens the sauce. Then, everything is combined, along with some cheese. Garlic powder is added, too, and though I normally don’t use it for anything other than rubs, it works well here because it makes the garlic flavor more robust—something I remember from the packets. It’s all on the table quickly and makes for a great side to pretty much anything. Although I haven’t tried it yet, I see no reason why you couldn’t make this all in one pot, a la the revolutionary mac and cheese, increasing the liquid by a bit, so I’ll probably try that next time.

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Mom guilt is awful. And I’m not even talking about the “mommy wars” stuff like breastfeeding or formula feeding, sleep training or not, discipline, and a host of other things. I’m talking about the guilt you inflict upon yourself as a mom that can make you feel both awful and awfully ridiculous. When I first learned I was pregnant with Ian, I basically freaked out. It’s not because it was a surprise or anything like that, but I was so worried about bringing a new person who needed our attention into the world of a near-3-year-old who’d had us all to himself for as long. And then when I realized my due date was a mere 10 days from the due date I had when I was pregnant with Zachary, well, then I started feeling guilt about their birthdays being so close. How could I have a third birthday party for Z with a really newly-new newborn? Would they feel slighted that they had to share parties as kids because our families are just not close enough to come twice? And would Ian look back on his first birthday picture and be mad he didn’t get his own celebration like his brother had?

The thing is, I know a lot of it is crazy. For one thing, it’s not like we even  have big parties. Also, does Ian care about his first birthday party? Of course not. He has no idea what’s going on, and all he cares about are things like eating four times as much food as you’d expect a kid in the 13th percentile to eat, climbing onto every surface, moving things from one container to another, and refusing to sleep.

Zachary got a little slighted for his party last year since Ian was less than 2 weeks old. And it wasn’t a big deal, because he couldn’t have cared less and, like I said, it’s not like we have huge parties. But I phoned it in by buying a cake (which had his name spelled incorrectly when we went to pick it up, FYI) and ordering pizza. So, because Ian has no clue what’s going on, anyway, I asked Zachary what kind of party he wanted this year. We made sure he knew he would be sharing the party with Ian, and he said that was just fine as long as there were two cakes. Well, obviously!

I was pretty happy when Zachary chose vanilla as his cake flavor. I asked him a few times, and his answer always remained vanilla cake with vanilla frosting. I like chocolate cake well enough, but I’ll choose vanilla over chocolate in almost every instance. And make it vanilla bean cake with vanilla bean frosting? Well, then there’s just no contest.

Z wanted a football party, and originally, I’d planned on attempting to make this into a Chicago Bears cake by basically stenciling the C logo in orange decorating sugar, but they were out of orange at the store and I really did not want to attempt piping, because, guys? I suck so hard at decorating cakes. SO. Sprinkles to the rescue! I did make some cookies and we had football-themed food like sliders, Italian beef, mini pretzel-wrapped hot dogs, and the like.

So, back to the cake. I was a big, big fan. Everyone liked this cake, especially Ian, who had his very own, and cried so hard when I took it away from him. If I hadn’t, though, he would have eaten an entire 6″ layer cake on his own and, well, that’s not cool. Because if anyone gets to eat an entire one of these cakes, it’s going to be me.

 

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Remember how I was just singing the praises of marinades for weeknights? Well, allow me to introduce another (with one more to follow soon).

When it comes to steaks, I’m usually a pretty simple girl—salt and lots of freshly ground pepper, cooked just under medium rare. Nothing more, nothing less. I am more than okay eating flank steak the same way, but flank steak really does work well with marinades. It’s a leaner cut, so marinating it makes it really tender. And with a simple marinade like this one, it takes pretty much zero time to amp up the flavor.

This marinade is just a simple vinaigrette of sorts, with Worcestershire added. I love Worcestershire with beef and use it often in marinades and burgers. I’ve kept this marinade both incredibly simple to make and easy to memorize, since there is the same amount of each ingredient (also makes it easy to increase the recipe without doing math :)).

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I love pancakes and waffles as much as the next girl (and crepes! and french toast!), but most of the time, I’m a savory breakfast eater. Of course, if I can get a savory breakfast followed by a pancake in place of a piece of toast, then it’s a win all around (take note, restaurants: you should all offer this option). One of the reasons for my love of savory breakfast foods is chorizo. Because when it comes to breakfast, there is nothing greater than chilaquiles with chorizo. Except for maybe huevos rancheros with chorizo. Or an omelet or skillet with chorizo. What is boils down to is I WANT TO EAT ALL THE CHORIZO.

So, these hash browns. Basically, they are shredded potatoes with chorizo mixed in. In other words, you can’t really go wrong. The idea actually stemmed from these chorizo-mushroom-potato tacos, when Zachary said they tasted a lot like hash browns. Turns out I’m not the only one interested in chorizo hash browns, and a quick google search found this recipe. We love to make hash browns on the weekend and these are a great twist on standard hash browns that are really not much more difficult or time-consuming.

Are you a savory or sweet breakfast person? And more, importantly, what can I add chorizo to that I haven’t already? :)

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It’s been way too long since I made biscotti, and the almost-full container of almonds in the pantry was practically begging to be used. I remembered this recipe I’d saved a while back and it made for a happy kid, a happy mom, and a happy now-half-full container of almonds.

Zachary really liked these and saw them as a treat, which is great, considering they aren’t bad for you at all. Biscotti in general are largely guilt-free. Although some versions use butter, the only kind I’ve ever made use eggs for binding, and occasionally a little oil. This recipe uses all whole wheat flour, to make them even better for you, and only a small amount of brown sugar (especially when you consider how many biscotti this recipe  makes—which is a lot). They are great on their own, dunked in coffee, or eaten in the same bite as a piece of chocolate (I wouldn’t know anything about that, though).

 

I halved the recipe because I wasn’t sure I had enough almond meal and probably didn’t need the entire batch around, anyway, but I’m posting the original recipe so I don’t have to tell you to use 1.5 eggs. :) The only changes I made were to increase the almonds a bit and also to add some almond extract. If you couldn’t tell, I have juuust a small almond extract obsession.

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(except, I’m calling it chicken and rice because I increased the chicken. :))

 

Oh, first day of spring. Weren’t you just lovely? Sigh. Like pretty much everyone, I am so over this winter. On this particular first day of spring, my littlest kid turned one (how the hell did THAT happen?) after battling a few days of a high fever. Not to be outdone, Zachary apparently might see snow on his birthday in April if the forecasts are to be believed. Duuuuude. Come on already.

The one redeeming factor of this looooong winter is getting to eat a lot of comfort foods. And this dish is about as simple and easy as you can get with regards to comfort foods. Chicken and rice are cooked together alongside a carrot-onion-celery pestata for a dish that is truly homey and rich. Using short-grained arborio rice and finishing it off with just a touch of butter and cheese make this creamy and, by all accounts, a big winner for everyone in our family (as long as you don’t count the whole cleaning-rice-up-after-a-baby-eats-it problem).

Although this is perfect winter food, I have no doubts that a little lemon zest and juice could brighten this dish right up and make it more spring-y. Of course, I’ll look for any way to eat a dish like this year-round, and would have no qualms eating it in the dead of summer, either.

 

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