Thursday, June 26, 2014

Cooking From the Garden - Mesclun Mix with Homemade Italian Dressing

Adapted from The Kitchn. The fresh herbs really make this dressing.

Italian Salad Dressing

Makes 1 1/2 cups (using 2-4 tablespoons per salad)

1 cup neutral salad oil, such as canola (See Recipe Note)
1/4 cup champagne vinegar
1 large garlic clove, pressed
2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions
2 tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
1 teaspoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
1/2- 1 T. fresh chopped oregano
1/2-1 T. fresh chopped basil
Pinch of red pepper flakes
Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Combine all of the ingredients in a jar with a tight fitting lid. (I love this shaker.) Shake vigorously until the mixture is thickened and well-combined. Alternatively, combine the ingredients in a bowl and whisk until combined.
Taste the dressing using a lettuce leaf and adjust seasonings. The dressing will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Cooking From the Garden - Kimchi Fried Rice with Swiss Chard

Adapted from Kimchi Chronicles.

2 T. toasted sesame oil
1 t. fresh ginger, grated (optional)
3/4 C. chopped onion
1 C. kimchi plus 2 T. kimchi juice
2 C. cooked, day-old rice, room temperature
Chopped swiss chard
Heaping T. of Gochujang paste (optional)

Heat the sesame oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onions and salt. Cook, stirring now and then, until beginning to soften and brown, about 3 minutes. Add the kimchi and cook for 1 minute to combine nicely with the onion. Add the rice and stir thoroughly to combine. Cook until the rice is warmed through and beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Serve hot.

Cooking From the Garden - Eggs and Veggies

My favorite healthy, hearty breakfast. I use whatever vegetables I have on hand.

Slice bacon and cook for a few minutes.  Add diced onion and sauté.  Add red peppers, corn and sauté for a few more minutes.  Add eggs.  Once they are cooked, add swiss chard.  Cook until it wilts slightly.  Season with salt and pepper.

Cooking From the Garden - BLTs on Dilly Bread

Set cooling racks over a tin foil lined sheet pan.  Lay bacon across cooling racks and cook at 350 for 45 minutes.

Slice homegrown tomatoes.  Wash and dry fresh arugula from the garden.
Serve with mayonnaise and dilly bread.

Dilly Bread
Makes 2 loaves

2 T. active dry yeast
1/2 c. warm water
2 c. cottage cheese, warmed
2 T. butter (melt with the cottage cheese)
4 T. sugar
2 T. minced onion (optional)
2 T. fresh dill, minced
2 t. salt
2 eggs
4 1/2 - 5 c. flour

Soften yeast in water.  Add to all ingredients except flour.  Beat in flour.  It will be very soft.  Cover and let rise about 1 hour, or beat with dough hook for 10 minutes (this eliminates one rising).  Stir down. Turn into 2 greased loaf pans.  Let rise again about 30 minutes.  Bake at 350 degrees about 40 minutes. Brush top with butter and sprinkle with salt.

Cooking From the Garden - Pasta with Fresh Tomato Sauce

From Alice Waters' Chez Panisse Pasta, Pizza & Calzone

7 large tomatoes
1 onion
4 cloves garlic
3-4 T. virgin olive oil
1 T. tomato paste
1 bay leaf
Several sprigs each fresh thyme, basil, parsley
Crushed red pepper

Score bottom of tomatoes and place in simmering water for approximately 1 minute.  Remove and peel, core and chop.  Dice the onion and garlic, then sauté in olive oil for a few minutes.  Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, bay leaf, chopped herbs, a pinch of crushed red pepper.  Simmer gently for about an hour and a half.  Add water as needed to keep from drying out.  Puree the sauce through a food mill, and taste for seasoning.  Season with salt to taste.

For the yellow squash:
Saute in oil, finish with salt, pepper and fresh tarragon.

Cooking From the Garden - Hummus, Pita and Vegetables

We love this fresh, light summer meal.  I love that it includes so many vegetables my kids will eat.

Cut fresh vegetables and arrange on plate; red peppers, cucumbers from the store.  Green peppers and tomatoes are from a friend's garden.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Heat olive oil in a frying pan.  Toast pita bread one at a time on each side (you may need to add a little oil in between).  Remove to cutting board to cool, then cut into triangles.  Sprinkle with sea salt and pepper.

Make hummus:

2 T. olive oil
2 T. fresh lemon juice
1 generous T. Tahini
1 clove of garlic, cut into pieces
1/2 t. kosher salt
15 oz. can of chickpeas, drain and reserve 1/4 C. liquid

Combine ingredients except garbanzo bean liquid in a blender.  Blend, adding bean liquid as needed.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013

Weekly Meals

I haven't planned meals in months, but with the start of school and a routine, I knew I needed to get back into it to help calm the chaos.  It's been so easy and fun!  An unanticipated benefit has been how excited the kids are.  They were asking everyday, "What's for dinner?" so I finally started writing it down and posting it on the fridge.  They talk about it a lot during the week; when their favorite meal is happening, meals they want to help me cook, ideas for dishes, etc . . . Dinner has once again become an event to look forward to.  It's hard to sit down with lots of kids at dinner; it's noisy, it's chaotic, there are often tears and spills and fights.  But as the kids are getting older and can carry on intelligent conversations, it's becoming so fun!  We still have the occasional spills and fights, but we also share news about our day, what we are learning, something interesting we saw, family memories.  In full disclosure, we don't sit down together every night.  One night each week we have lessons and scouts and church activities, so I set up dinner buffet style and people eat as they come and go.  Another night, Josh and I go out, so the kids are on their own.

Here's what we've been eating:

Chicken Katsu with Bulldog sauce

Spaghetti with Tomato Basil Sauce

Chicken Salad and Croissants
Vegetable Tray

Pork Dumplings

Mac n' Cheese

Hot Dogs on the grill

Homemade Pizza
Marinated Olives

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer Corn Chowder

This week summer produce is at its best and it was rainy.  Perfect time to make summer soup!  This recipe comes from Martha Stewart Living July/August 1997.  The recipe calls for fresh thyme, but I didn't have any so I used oregano.  Thyme is such a fall flavor, I don't like using in the summer as much.  Oregano tastes much more summery to me.  I have two kinds of oregano in my garden, which I didn't know until it really started to grow.  One is lighter green and grows close to the ground.  The other is darker green and grows tall.   The contrast of the sweet corn with the slightly spicy poblano pepper is just about the best combination ever.

This soup takes about 30 minutes to put together.  I served it with homemade biscuits.

Summer Corn Chowder (serves 4-6)
4 slices of bacon, cut into 1/4 inch pieces

1 small onion, diced (1 cup)
2 ribs of celery, cut into 1/2 inch dice (3/4 c.)
8 sprigs oregano (or thyme)
3 c. chicken stock
3 ears yellow corn, kernels removed (about 2 1/2 cups)
5 oz. small fingerling potatoes, cut into 1/4 inch slices
1 poblano chile, seeded and cut into 1/2 inch dice
1 1/2 cups half-n-half

1. Place bacon in small stockpot over medium-high heat.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until bacon is deep golden brown.  Remove with slotted spoon to paper towel. Discard all but 2 T. fat.
2. Add onions, celery, oregano and salt and pepper to taste to stockpot; cook about 8 minutes, until translucent.  Add stock, bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium; simmer 15 minutes.
3. Add corn, potatoes, and chile; cook until potatoes are tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove and discard oregano.  Add half-n-half, and simmer until soup is hot.  Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper, and garnish with reserved bacon.

Thursday, April 18, 2013

Homemade Instant Oatmeal

My kids love to eat instant oatmeal for breakfast, but I hate all the junk in it.  In the October Martha Stewart there was this recipe for homemade instant oatmeal.  We are loving it.  They suggested mix-ins like dried apricots, coconut, flax seed, almonds, dried cranberries, etc . . . I made it without any mix-ins and we've been eating it with fresh fruits; bananas, apples, pears.  It's easy and so much yummier than the store bought version.

Yield Makes 3-4 cups

  • 4 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/4 cup light-brown sugar (I doubled the sugar to 1/2 cup, it wasn't sweet at all)
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread oats on a rimmed baking sheet; bake until lightly toasted but not browned, about 15 minutes. Let cool. Pulse in a food processor until coarsely chopped. Mix in 1 cup of a combination of add-ins (see our suggestions below), and stir in sugar, salt, and cinnamon, or more to taste, before storing in an airtight container for up to 2 weeks.
  2. To Serve, stir in boiling water until desired consistency is reached. Let stand 2 to 3 minutes. (We add a little milk or cream in it at this point, but you don't have to)

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Music Lessons

We've slowly been adding to our office/band room; piano, drum set, guitar, amp, microphone, speaker. Roxcy and her friends have formed a band called 5x Unique. They are playing a Taylor Swift song in the school talent show this week. Roxcy is loving her guitar and piano lessons so we decided to sign her up for voice lessons as well. She just wrote a song that is so sweet and cute and 12, all about beautiful sun filled days and making the most of today. She's also started playing hymns.

Jonah is plugging away at piano, he doesn't love it yet, but he will. He's zipping through his books. He recently started drums. Rhythm comes very naturally for him. (Famous Juddy of Erik the Red is both Roxcy's guitar teacher and Jonah's drum teacher. EtR just released their first CD, you can hear it on their website:

Colin had been asking to take piano for several months but I didn't take him seriously. I guess because Jonah didn't start until he was 9, it didn't occur to me that Colin might be different. We started lessons together a few months ago and he's already finished his first set of books. He's doing really well and I love the one-on-one time I get with him.

Petrea and Julian have been particpating in a co-op kind of music class that I organized. They loved it, but it got to be a bit much so we stopped doing it a few months ago. We try to do songs and games a few times a week. Julian especially loves to dance, whenever he hears music coming from the office he runs in and starts dancing or trying to play with the musician.

I love to see my kids taking pleasure in music and being able to make music independently.

Monday, February 14, 2011


Yesterday, while playing basketball in the street, Colin fell.

A trip to instacare fixed him all up good. He was the best patient.

This morning he assembled valentines for his classmates. Red for the boys, pink for the girls.