Monthly Archives: February 2011

Week in Review: February 26, 2011

Did you miss any of my family meal posts from the last week?  Never fear, as I will give you quick links to them and you too can make some fun family meals this week.  My top two would be the Crostino alla Romano  (for special occasion appetizer) and the Chicken Mole (a fast Mexican Mole).

Saturday: Cheese Straws

Sunday: Chocolate Pudding Flan

Monday: Baked Pesto Ravioli with Chicken

Tuesday: Crostino alla Romana

Wednesday: Guacamole

Thursday: Chicken Mole

Friday: Cinnamon Date-Pecan Rolls

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

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Cinnamon Date-Pecan Rolls

Day 56: “Cooking Light: Cooking through the Seasons

February 26, 2011

What I love about lazy weekends with nothing to do is the fact that I get to take the time to make dishes that take more than 30 minutes to prepare.  This weekend was no exception.  It is still cold, way to cold and I am at my wits end with winter!  What to do when it is too cold to enjoy a day outside….you make bread of some sort of course.  Today it was cinnamon rolls.  I had never prepared my own cinnamon roll dough until I had made The Pioneer Woman’s rolls.  Those rolls were amazing and not as hard to prepare as I had first feared. So now when I see a recipe for homemade rolls, I have the confidence to make them. If you have never made homemade rolls, give them a try.

This cookbook from the test kitchens of “Cooking Light” in which the cookbook is divided by the seasons.  The reason that this is such a good ideas is you won’t spend the time reading recipes that call for pomegranate seeds only to find out that you missed the season.  And if you like to save money on groceries it is always a good idea to buy food when it is in season.  When food is in season the prices are lower and you often will even find them on sale!  This cookbook is full of beautiful full color photos that will make your tummy growl.

The Ruling:  We all liked them….with the exception of youngest child.  He saw the box of chopped dates and decided that he wouldn’t try them because of the dates .  He did eat the ends of the rolls, that did not have any of the nuts or dates in it.  I was out of pecans and I substituted walnuts in, I think they worked just fine.  The roll is not overly sticky and sugary, hence the reason it is in a “Cooking Light” cookbook.

Cinnamon Date-Pecan Rolls, page 366

Ingredients:

Dough:

  • 1 teaspoon granulated sugar
  • 1 package dry yeast (about 2 1/4 teaspoons)
  • 3/4 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 large egg
  • 14.5 ounces all-purpose flour )about 3 1/4 cups
  • Cooking spray

Filling:

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon grated orange rind
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup chopped pitted dates
  • 1/4 cup chopped pecans, toasted

Glaze:

  • 1 cup powdered sugar
  • 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoons fat-free milk

Directions:

  1. To prepare dough, dissolve 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and yeast in 3/4 cup warm water; let stand 5 minutes.  Combine 1/3 cup granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons butter, salt, and egg in a large bowl.  Add yeast mixture; beat with a mixer at medium speed until blended.
  2. Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Gradually add 3 cups flour to yeast mixture, beating mixture on low-speed until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead until smooth and elastic (about 5 minutes); add enough of remaining flour, 1 tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking to hands. Place dough in alarge bowl coated with cooking spray, turning to coat top. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; turn out onto a lightly floured surface.
  3. To prepare filling, combine brown sugar, cinnamon, and rind in a small bowl. Roll dough into a 15×10 inch rectangle; brush with 2 tablespoons butter. Sprinkle brown sugar mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border. Sprinkle dates and pecan over sugar mixture. Beginning with a long side, roll up jelly-roll fashion; pinch seam to seal (do not seal ends of roll). Cut roll into 18 (1/2 inch) slices.  Place slices, cut sides up, in a 13×9 inch baking pan coated with cooking spray. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, about 1 hour or until rolls have doubled in size.
  4. Preheat oven to 375 degrees
  5. Uncover dough, Bake at 375 for 20 minutes or until rolls are golden brown.
  6. To prepare glaze, combine powdered sugar, syrup, and milk in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over warm rolls, Serve immediately.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

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Filed under Breakfast, Sweets

Chicken Mole

Day 55: “Dinners in a Dish or a Dash

February 24, 2011

This seems to be the year of my love affair with anything mole.  Remember my post earlier in the year with a poblano chocolate mole?  Mole is one of those things that can take you hours in the kitchen to prepare, but the pay offs are usually huge in flavor.  When I saw this recipe for mole, I thought it was too good to be true.  There was no roasting of peppers, no toasting of nuts and no hours of cooking over the stove.  Just some simple searing, dumping and searing is all it took to get to the magic taste of mole.

This cookbook is filled with quick tips and tricks to getting a home cooked meal on the table quick.  But most of the recipes are filled with fresh flavorful ingredients.  Most fast cook cookbooks are filled with recipes that have a can of cream of something soup in it.  Not this one.  Fresh ingredients, but not weird ingredients offer a perfect combination to add to your family recipe favorites.

The Ruling:  It was really good.  Of course youngest wouldn’t eat it.  Really, he tasted it and said simply he didn’t care for it.  Once again, his loss.  With the addition of peanut butter it reminded me of my friend Sara’s recipe for ground nut stew.  This is a great recipe to try when you have a hankering for some mole, but really do not have the time to make it. I did use boneless skinless chicken breasts instead of the chicken thighs as that is a family preference.

Chicken Mole, page 156

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons peanut or vegetable oil
  • 6 chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 cup fresh or frozen chopped onion (about 1 medium-large yellow onion)
  • 1 large garlic clove,  minced
  • one 1-inch piece cinnamon stick
  • 3 whole cloves
  • 4 peppercorns
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed coriander seeds
  • Two 14 1/2 ounce jars mild, medium, or hot salsa
  • One 10 ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth or water
  • 1 ounce unsweetened chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons creamy peanut butter
  • 1 slice firm-textured white bread, torn into small chunks
  • 1 to 2 teaspoons sugar (if needed to mellow tartness of sauce)
  • Salt
  • 3 cups of rice

Directions:

  1. Heat oil in medium-size Dutch oven over high heat 2 minutes.  Add chicken, placing skin side down, set lid on askew, and brown 5 to 8 minutes. Lift chicken to plate and reserve. Pour all drippings from Dutch oven, then spoon 2 tablespoons back in. Reduce heat to moderate.
  2. Add onion, garlic, and all spices and cook, stirring often, until onion is limp, 2 to 3 minutes.
  3. Add salsa, tomatoes with green chilies, broth, chocolate, peanut butter, and bread. Bring to gentle simmer, cover, and cook over low heat 10 minutes. Taste sauce and if too acid, add sugar to temper. Also add salt to taste.
  4. Return chicken to Dutch oven, pushing down into sauce, cover, and simmer until chicken is well done, 15 to 20 minutes. Discard cinnamon stick.
  5. Bed rice on a heated, large, deep platter, ladle mole on top, and serve.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

2 Comments

Filed under Fast Meals, Main Dishes

Guacamole

Day 54: “All Around The World Cooking

February 23, 2011

Guacamole is one of those dishes that can be done very well, or very poorly.  Authentic Mexican restaurants generally create a great guacamole and I am not afraid to order it.  The chain Mexican restaurant usually serves a green creamy mixture where my guess there is not even a hint of avocado in their ingredient list.  So maybe I am a guacamole snob of sorts?  To me the best has very few onions in it, but a hint, some garlic and slightly chunky.  Tomatoes are a good addition but are not necessary for me to love the guacamole.

This cookbook is really a bible of cooking around the globe.  I was really stumped in finding something that I thought most in the family would eat.  So when I stumbled upon the guacamole I thought I had found the perfect dish to make.  This cookbook reminds of what Elizabeth Gilbert could have written if she had just focused on the “Eat” section of her widely popular book “Eat, Pray, Love”.  This cookbook is full of dishes from around the world.

The Ruling:  It was on a scale of 1-10 about a 7.  I felt it was lacking in garlic and it was too creamy for my liking.  We ate just a bit and put the rest in the fridge for another day.  When I pulled it out after a few days (we forgot about it in the fridge) my youngest son thought that it was chocolate pudding (it had a dark brown color to it).  Good thing I pulled it out before he ate it otherwise he would have been in for a bit of a surprise!

Guacamole, page 61

Ingredients:

  • 3 ripe avocados, preferably Haas, pitted and peeled
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 3 dashes Tabasco sauce
  • salt and coarsely ground black pepper, to taste
  • 3 ripe plum tomatoes, seeded and cut into 1/4 inch dice
  • 1/4 cup diced red onion
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves or flat leaf parsley.

Directions:

  1. Place the avocado in a bowl, toss well with the lime juice, mash coarsely with a fork.
  2. Fold in the sour cream and season with the cumin, Tabasco and salt and pepper to taste.
  3. Stir in the tomatoes, red onion and cilantro.  Transfer to a festive bowl and serve.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

 MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

4 Comments

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Crostino alla Romana

Day 53: “Trattoria Grappolo:  Simple Recipes for Traditional Italian Cuisine

February 22, 2011

Finding an appetizer that is easy to make and impress friends and family is a home run in the book of busy people everywhere.  So simple to make but it tastes complex.  We had a hard time figuring out the flavor on this and then when my son said it tasted like king crab legs in melted butter we all agreed. 

The cookbook is full of pictures, I would say about half of the book is pictures.  Not just small pictures either, but large ones.  The recipes are straightforward and easy to follow and easy to make.  The wine suggestion for each recipe is about the same size as the directions in how to make the recipe.  Simply said, if you love Italian cooking this would be a great cookbook to discover.

The Ruling:  Everyone who tried it loved it.  My son’s girlfriend was over and she devoured them, and she is a tiny girl!  She said that it reminded her of the sandwiches that she had while she traveled in Spain.  The taste really does take you away in your memories as the taste is complex and simple all at the same time.  We thought it had a taste of king crab legs in butter, but with the hint of sage it reminded you a something comforting.  Please use fresh sage as I do not think dried will do it justice!  While you could serve this as an appetizer, I also think this would taste great as a meal with a simple salad.

Crostiona Alla Roman, page 45

Ingredients:

  • 4 slices country rustic bread sliced 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick
  • 1 ball fresh buffalo mozzarella, drained and cut into 1/2 inch thick slices
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 15 fresh sage leaves
  • 4 slices prosciutto

Directions:

  1. Preheat Broiler on High to 500 degrees.  Place slices of bread on a baking sheet.  Top each slice of bread with the sliced mozzarella.  Place baking sheet in oven on the middle rack for approximately 2 minutes, or until mozzarella begins to melt.  Meanwhile, in a skillet, melt the butter and add the sage leaves.  After mozzarella has melted, remove baking sheet from the oven and top bread slices each with a slice of prosciutto.  Place a bread slice on each serving plate and finish by drizzling the butter and sage leaves over top.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you try any of my suggestions, I would love to hear from you.  It helps me to understand what my readers want me to write about and what they think is a waste of their time….thanks for taking the time to help me out.

2 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Fast Meals

Baked Pesto Ravioli With Chicken

Day 52: “Dream Dinners…..Life Just Got Easier

February 21, 2011

Feeding our kids is one of those responsibilities that we have to do everyday….usually three times a day.  If you have teen boys, it is 10 times a day.  As you know I struggle with finding meals that everyone in my family of 5 will eat.  Usually three of us will eat it, but getting to number 4 and 5 is usually a struggle.  I usually try to stick something that each of those fussy kids will eat in each meal.  For this meal it was the chicken for the youngest and the pick around of the vegetables for the middle child.  The good news is that middle child told me during this meal that he is eating more vegetables now than he ever had been before.  This is a true statement as when he was little and we couldn’t get him to get over 20 pounds, he lived off of the round spaghetti noodles in a can with a red type of sauce.  Gross!  If I think too much of this noodle stuff in a can I will vomit. The sauce that covered the noodles was about as much of a “vegetable” that we could get into him. I really think we could have gotten him diagnosed with some kind of food sensory issue.  But instead we just kept putting different types of food in front of him.  Enter the boy now who is age 15 who will now try sushi and most everything I cook…… he will have one bite at least.  I know that when we send him off to college, he will survive on more than pizza.  So my story is this……if you have a fussy eater, keep putting good food selections in front of them and they will eventually eat them.  In the meantime find a good multivitamin that will get them through the fussy years. 

This cookbook is put together with the busy mom in mind.  Each recipe has for a single family version and then a triple batch.  Complete with instructions of how to make the dinner tonight and how to freeze it for a couple of months and reheat at a later date.  I so appreciate this ideas as finding meals that will freeze nicely can be very difficult to do.  I think I could find 30 recipes that my family would try and enjoy.

The Ruling:  This was good and full of flavor however the kids would have liked a tomato based sauce on it instead of a pesto.  The youngest child just opted to eat a chicken breast and did not try any other part of the dish.  Middle child ate with little complaint and of course oldest child ate it.  The rating was average, but if I would have put some red pasta sauce on this they would have given it all thumbs up.  This recipe would be easy to adapt with a red sauce to it.  Personally, I like the pesto on it, but then again I love pesto.  I even used the last batch of my homemade pesto for this recipe.

I am going to give the one batch recipe but please know that it comes with instructions for making 3 batches with each recipe.

Baked Pesto Ravioli with Chicken, page 110

Ingredients:

  •  2 pounds cheese-filled ravioli, fresh or frozen
  • 1 pound cooked chicken breasts in 1/2 inch slices
  • 2/3 cup chicken broth
  • 2 cups zucchini, cut into 1/2 inch rounds
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 1/2 cup chopped scallions
  • 1/2 cup store-bought basil pesto sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Directions:

  1. Spray one 9×13 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. Combine the ravioli, chicken broth, zucchini, bell pepper, scallions, pesto, salt, pepper, and Parmesan in a large bowl.  Stir gently to mix the ingredients.
  3. Preheat the oven to 250 degrees.  Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 1 hour or until bubbly.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

 MS. Simplicity

 MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here.

If you make any of these recipes, I would love for you to leave a comment and let me know what you and your family thought!

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Chocolate Pudding Flan

 

Day 51: Not going to name the cookbook as I don’t want you to hold my results against the cookbook

February 20, 2011

Flan has always been one of those things I have wanted to make, but just never had.  Well on this cookbook adventure I being faced with all sort of opportunities to cook/bake outside of my comfort zone.  So to tackle a flan seemed like a reasonable thing to do.  Well, it my high aspirations did not exactly pay off.  I cooked my caramel to a point that it was too hard and so when we went to invert it….the caramel did not release from the container.  In fact when my son was helping me make another batch of the caramel…..his was so hot it cracked the pan and we had to throw out the pan.

Don’t hold our attempts at making flan against the cookbook as it has many fine recipes…..I am sure that our errors are operator errors.  Because it you remember, I am not a patient cook in the kitchen and I believe that is why I have so many failed attempts at baking. 

The Ruling:  Rich chocolate pudding….almost too rich.  The presentation looked less than appealing on the plate but that didn’t stop us from eating it.  Tasted very rich, but it simply was much too difficult for my home cooking desires.  I am not going to give the recipe as it has so many steps and it would frustrate me all over again if I then had to type all the steps.  For now…..you will just have to look at the pictures and buy a cook and serve chocolate pudding mix and save yourself the hassle.

I am laughing at the picture below….can you see how I tested to see if it was done?  That would be a fingerprint on the top.

To Joyful, Simplified Living,

MS. Simplicity

MS. Simplicity, also known as Melissa Schmalenberger  operates her business as I Did it with MS. Simplicity.  She is a Professional Organizer based out of Fargo, ND and her website can be found at www.ididit-fargo.com .  Need to contact MS. Simplicity privately, you can email her at melissa@ididit-fargo.com.  For daily organizing tips find the MS. Simplicity fan page  here

2 Comments

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