Friday, October 24, 2008

Bagels, Cream Cheese and a Dose of Guilt

Well, I was waiting for it. I knew it would happen sometime. And it did. Last night, my son asked me why I was not a "mommy helper" in his kindergarten class. And, by the way "Mommy, you need to be a mommy helper so you can come with me on field trips like the pumpkin farm - you missed it."


Of course, I told him that not all mommies get to go on field trips, but I would go on one during the year. That made him feel better for the moment (after having apparently quite the bad afternoon with our babysitter - he also lost one of the gourds he found that was shaped like his initial, so this was not a good thing).

In the meantime, work has been crazy. So, last night, if anyone is wondering... mini whole wheat bagels with cream cheese, a couple of cut up apples, and we called it a night!

Thank goodness it is Friday. I will be doing a lot of cooking tonight and tomorrow so hubby has some nutritious meals to serve to the kids while I am at the Public Health conference in San Diego.

(Sorry no recipe this morning... I will post the other night's lamb recipe later!)

Have a great day everyone!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

And when you aren't in the mood to cook - for IJ

This evening I got a call from my beloved younger sister (who is probably reading this right now) and she tells me that this blog is causing her all sorts of angst. You know the kind - sibling rilvary - etc...

Anyway - for those of you that might be wondering....

1. I do serve my kids pizza. Sometimes we make it. Sometimes it is frozen from Trader Joe's. Tonight, after a really crazy bad day, I ordered in.

2. Sometimes (as I have said before) I give my kids breakfast for dinner. I mean really, who doesn't like waffles and fruit??

3. Although I try to make as many different things as possible, I rely on standbys such as roast chicken, pasta with pesto or some sort of simple sauce, sandwiches, rocky mountain toast, etc. a lot of times during the week. I just try to change them up and serve something new alongside.

(Which reminds my, my 5yo apparently really likes hard boiled eggs! A great nutritious breakfast and easy dinner to make with a couple of other things.)

4. We go out to eat about once a week. Well, a lot less now - and certainly not "fancy." But, just as with the pizza, sometimes I am simply not in the mood to cook. Or, we are out doing stuff and it is just easier to stop someplace. That being said, we try to frequent "healthier" places that don't serve "Kids Menus." I hate those. Who decided that kids only eat pizza, burgers, and chicken fingers? (Besides, chickens don't have fingers... I'm just saying). Sometimes we go to nicer restaurants - and sometimes we try some new things with the kids just to expose them to other places.

That's just a few "confessions" I want to make in order to help my sister manage the "oy - how do you live with her?????" type of reactions.

Lots of love to my sister.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Homemade Pasta with the Kids

Well, after nearly 17 years, I finally did it. I took out our Atlas Pasta Maker and the kids and I made pasta together. I've made pasta lots of times with my dad when I was a kid and since then have hand rolled pasta before the kids were born. But, I had forgotten how much fun it is!

The pasta we made (cappellini) was delicate and delicious. And it really is worth it to try and make. Even if you don't have the Atlas Pasta roller, you can use a rolling pin to roll out the dough as thin as possible and "hand cut" it into strips. Or, cut it into squares and make raviolis or dumplings.

Here is the recipe....

2 cups of flour (I used plain old white flour)
2 eggs
2 egg yolks

1. Mound the flour in a pile on the counter.
2. Make a well in the center.
3. Gently beat the eggs and yolks together and put in the center of the "well" of flour.
4. Using a fork, stir the eggs, bringing down little bits of flour from the sides into the eggs. Keep mixing until you can't really stir with the fork anymore, then use your hands to bring the dough together and gently knead the dough. It will not be smooth, so don't worry about that. It will also be a bit sticky. Add a bit more flour if it is too wet, or a couple of drops of water if you can't get it to come together too well.
5. Once it has come together, pat it into a round disk, cover with plastic wrap and put in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Rolling out the pasta.

Since we have the rolling machine, it makes this a bit easier. But basically what you are doing is thinning out the dough enough to make pasta. So, the first thing we did was to cut off a small piece and run it through the pasta maker a couple of times to finish kneading the dough, folding in thirds each time to really smooth it out. Next we ran it through the largest setting (1). Then we decreased the setting to 2 and ran the pasta through. We continued doing this until we reached setting 7. (I think I may stop at 6 in the future, but we were having so much fun!!!)

You can see from the pictures that the dough gets longer and thinner each time. Once you reach desired thinness, put the pasta through the "cutting" part of the machine. Or, you can cut it by hand into thin strips using a pizza cutter or roll it into a long "log" and cut the noodles. There are a bunch of websites that show you how to do this.

Once the pasta is cut, toss it with a bit of flour to separate the noodles. Cook in lots of boiling, salted water for 1-2 minutes.

Toss with some olive oil, freshly grated parmesan and YUMMY!!!!!

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Rosh Hashanah Menu

Well, it is now Wednesday evening, and my house is almost back to normal. I think that we bought out most of the vegetables, apples and cornish hens in the metropolitan Chicago area. In order to accommodate the sundry groceries for all the cooking, we needed to put an eight foot catering table down the center of our kitchen, on which all sorts of stuff went. Our nanny exclaimed - "Are you opening a restaurant I don't know about?" when she saw what was going on!!

No - of course not - it was just the holidays!!!

After lots of deliberation about different menus, numbers of people, etc. I did decide to go rather simple. Over the next couple of posts, I will pull out some of the recipes, but for now - here was the menu (also good for dinner parties, etc...) although I did overdo the amounts. What is it about holidays that makes us make enough food to feed 10 people at least 3 times over??

Monday night menu

Chicken Soup with Carrot Coins
Roasted Chicken with Herbed Margarine (you can use butter if you don't keep kosher)
Green Salad (Romaine, Radicchio, Fennel) with Mustard/Honey Vinagrette
Kasha Varnishkes
Steamed Green Beans with Sea Salt
(dessert was provided by guest)

Tuesday night menu (a couple of vegetarians at the table - so most everything does not have any meat used at all)

Roasted Eggplant Salad
Butternut Squash and Apple Soup
Roasted Root Vegetables
Spinach and Baby Arugula Salad with Strawberries and Vinagrette
Steamed Green Beens with Lemon Zest
Cornish Hens with Sage and Cinammon
Apple and Raisin Crostada

Of course there were apples with honey and challah, wine, etc. with each meal.

For those that want to make a quick and easy dessert, here is what I did for Tuesday night!

Apple and Raisin Crostada (adapted/modified from recipe seen in Martha Stewart book)

1 package (2 sheets) frozen puff pastry (I used Pepperidge Farm which is non-dairy but still tastes good)
4 apples (I used 2 gala, 2 golden delicious) peeled, cored and thinly sliced
1/2 cup golden raisins
1 tbsp flour
zest of 1 lemon + juice of same lemon
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp fresh ground nutmeg
1 egg - lightly beaten

1. Preheat oven to 400.
2. Defrost puff pastry as instructed on package. Roll out each sheet to about 1/8 inch thickness. Cut one sheet into a circle about 12 inches wide (I used my colander to measure). Cut a circle out of the other sheet about 11 1/2 inches wide (I used the same colander to make and indentation then cut a little "in").
3. With scraps of puff pastry, cut out little leaves.
4. Place two circles and leaves in one layer on piece of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Put in refrigerator for 1/2 hour or longer (you can cover with plastic wrap - I didn't)
5. Mix together apples, raisins, flour, cinnamon, lemon zest, some of the juice, nutmeg in a small bowl and set aside.

To make the crostada:
1. Take out pastry from fridge. Place large circle on piece of parchment on cookie sheet (use the same one to save paper). Put apples and raisin mixture in the center of the circle, leaving about 1 inch around the edge. Put smaller circle on top. Use water to wet finger and run along edge of bottom circle. Pull up around top circle to seal and pinch closed. Use water to "paste" leaves decoratively on top of closed pastry. Cut 2-3 small lines in the top of the pastry to let steam escape.
2. Brush top with egg and sprinkle with sugar.
3. Bake in 400 degree oven for approximately 40 minutes or until top is puffed and brown.
4. Remove from oven and cool on rack.