Monthly Archives: April 2011

Week in Review: April 9, 2011

I love doing these reviews as it gives you links to all of the recipes I made for the week in one spot. So did you miss any of my family meal posts from the last week?  Once again, 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 Black Bean Soup and the Potato Soup!

Saturday: Cranberry Orange Scones

Sunday: Fast Chicken Tandoori

Monday: Weeknight Bolognese Sauce

Tuesday: Tartiflete Toastie

Wednesday: Black Bean Soup

Thursday: Chipotle Orange Chops

Friday: Potato Soup

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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The Pioneer Woman’s Pulled Pork

Day 112: The Pioneer Woman Cooks

April 22, 2011

Pulled pork is something that the whole family will eat and it often is very easy to make. Most pulled pork recipes that I have made are made in the slow cooker. The lovely thing about pulled pork is that the meat is so versatile. I have had it on a salad, I have had it sliced thin and served as sliders, mixed with BBQ sauce and served on a bun and shredded and served on a flour tortilla Mexican style. I feel like it is a little bit like Dr. Seuss’ “Green Eggs and Ham” as I will have my pork served many ways as opposed to the grump in the book with his green eggs and ham.

If you read any blogs….you must already be reading the blog by Ree Drummond, aka The Pioneer Woman or as I like to call her, PW. She is a city girl who was a vegetarian dancer who found herself in love with a cowboy and married and had children and fed cowboys, kids, family and animals. She has an incredible sense of humor and leaves be laughing all the time. I have on my bucket list to become friends with her. If you know her, could you drop her a line and tell her what a fun person I am?! Pretty please?! Her cooking is how I cook, to feed a group of starving children. She likes lighter fare but her husband likes red meat and manly food. She has gathered her recipes and her incredible photos in one book. She now will be having her own cooking show on The Food Network. She will be great! In the meantime, I will continue to read her blog and find inspiration from her on a daily basis. Her cookbook is the only one that I have ever found with this many photos. I have never been disappointed by anything that PW has made, and you wont either. The direction to each recipe is written in her funny sense of humor….you will see below in the recipe….enjoy!

The Ruling: Everyone loved it. I mean loved it! I went and tracked down a market that made home-made flour tortillas and that even made it better. This will go in our monthly rotation list! It would work best for a Sunday supper where you have time to turn it once every hour. I did not have that kind of time on a weeknight, so I did not turn it and it still turned out great!

Spicy Pulled Pork, page 94

Ingredients:

  • One 5-7 pound pork shoulder
  • 1 whole onion, cut into quarters
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons salt, or to taste
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
  • lime wedges
  • flour tortillas

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
  2. This is a pork shoulder roast. Make friends with it, because it;s a fabulously versatile piece of meat. Go ahead and give it a rinse. I’ll wait.
  3. In a food processor, combine the onion, chili powder, brown sugar, garlic, oregano, cumin, salt, pepper, olive oil, and vinegar. Pulse until totally combined.
  4. Pour the mixture over the pork. Rub it into every nook and cranny of the meat, tucking it under folds and in crevices. Let no stone go unturned
  5. Place the pork into a roasting pan or Dutch oven and add 2 cups water. Cover tightly and roast for 6 or 7 hours, turning once every hour.
  6. Check to make sure it’s fork-tender. Increase the heat to 425 and roast uncovered for 20 minutes or until the skin gets crispy. Remove from the oven and allow the pork to rest for 15 minutes.
  7. Shred the meat, using two forks to pull it apart. Place the shredded meat on a large platter lined with lime wedges.
  8. Pour the pan juices over the shredded meat. THis will ensure that the meat stays extra tender.
  9. Serve with warm tortillas.

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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Creamy Asparagus Soup with Grilled Asparagus

Day 111: The Lee Bros. Simple Fresh Southern Knockout Dishes With Down-Home Flavor

April 21, 2011

I have never made asparagus soup before. But when I picked up this cookbook I quickly realized that this was the recipe to make. Spring is asparagus season and remember when you cook with items in season, the prices tend to be lower. I remember growing up and my mom had a garden bed that was all full of fresh asparagus. I knew when spring had arrived when the asparagus started poking out of the ground.

The Lee brothers are Southern boys with a love for Southern cooking. But what they do is take the Southern ingredients and only give us the fresh parts of it. You will not find smothered and deep-fried dishes here. You will find fresh seafood and produce at every turn of the page. I really had a hard time finding a recipe that I could make simply from the standpoint of many of the dishes that I wanted to make called for fresh local seafood that living in the upper midwest, I do not have access to. Even some of the produce I was not able to find. For example, the recipe for Pork Tenderloins with Maderia and Fig Gravy sounds scrumptious but alas no fresh figs. Fun tour of fresh Southern ingredients will be found in this cookbook.

The Ruling: Lovely tasting soup. Wow was it full of flavor. The toasted asparagus on top was a nice treat. I could have passed on the prosciutto as the asparagus was so good all on its own. Youngest child did have a couple of spoonfuls and did not gag on it.

Creamy Asparagus Soup with Grilled Asparagus, page 115

Ingredients:

  • 3 pounds asparagus
  • 1 quart vegetable broth, homemade or store-bought
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 medium yellow onion, coarsely chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 2 teaspoons grape seed, canola, or other vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream or whole or low fat buttermilk, or to taste
  • 1 to 2 ounces thinly sliced country ham, or prosciutto cut into strips
  • freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions:

  1. trim any woody parts from the stem ends of the asparagus. Cut the tops from the asparagus about 2 inches down from the tip, and reserve. Cut the spears crosswise into pieces about 1/4 inch long.
  2. Bring the vegetable broth and 1/4 teaspoon of the salt to a simmer in a 4 to 6 quart pot, and add the chopped asparagus spears and onion. Add all but 24 of the asparagus tops to the pot, too. Simmer until the asparagus spears are tender, 10 to 12 minutes.
  3. While the broth and the veggies simmer, pour the oil into a cast-iron skillet or saute pan and heat it over high heat, tilting the pan occasionally so the oil coats the bottom thinly and evenly. When the oil begins to smoke, add the reserved asparagus tops, and scatter the remaining 1/2 teaspoon salt over them. Cook, stirring only every 1 to 1 1/2 minutes, until the asparagus tops are browned in places, about 6 minutes. Remove them for the heat.
  4. Transfer the broth and vegetables to a blender (in batches, if necessary), and liquefy. Return the soup to the pot, add the heavy cream, and heat to a simmer. Serve immediately in bowls, garnished with the skillet-grilled asparagus tops, strips of country ham, and fresh ground black pepper. (Covered, the soup will keep in the refrigerator for about 3 days.)

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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Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse

 

Day 110: “The Paris Cookbook

April 20, 2011

The third part of our French cooking experience ends with chocolate mousse. I don’t think a journey through French cooking would be complete without an attempt at mousse. When I think of mousse I think of something that is much deeper in flavor and a silky texture. Nothing like chocolate pudding! This is a dessert that you savor, you eat slowly knowing that you are eating something that took some love to prepare.

Patricia Wells was the author of the previous cookbook I used for the Lemon Chicken Soup. This cookbook focuses on the foods of Paris. Here you find more sophisticated dishes that have ingredients like squab and black truffles. Looking to add some sophistication to your family dinner table? Patricia Wells may have just what you are looking for.

The Ruling: We all loved it….of course it had chocolate in it so what is not to love. I liked the fact that it wasn’t too sweet. My husband decided to add fresh whipped cream and raspberries to it, and it even made the dish more special. What I loved is the fact that my middle son made it. He now knows how to make a decadent dessert. I am sure he will be making this one for years to come to impress people in his life. What he learned how not to do was the double boiler. Problem with water boiling over.

La Maison Du Chocolat’s Bittersweet Chocolate Mousse, page 254

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 7 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 5 large egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Dutch process cocoa powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

Directions:

  1. In the top of a double boiler set over, but not touching, boiling water, heat the cream just until warm, about 1 minute. Add the chocolate pieces, and stir until the chocolate is melted. Add the butter and stir to melt and combine. Remove from the heat. One by one, whisk in the egg yolks. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl, and set it aside to cool.
  2. Place the egg whites in the bowl of a heavy-duty mixer fitted with the whisk. Whisk at low-speed until the whites are frothy. Gradually increase the speed to high. Slowly add the sugar, cocoa, sea salt, and vanilla extract. Whisk at high-speed until stiff but not dry.
  3. Stir one-third of the egg white mixture into the cooled chocolate mixture, and whisk until the two are thoroughly blended. (This will lighten the batter and make it easier to fold in the remaining egg white mixture.) WIth a large rubber spatula, gently fold in the remaining white mixture. Do this slowly and patiently. Do not overmix, but be sure that the mixture is well blended and that no streaks of white remain.
  4. Pour the mousse into a large glass bowl, eight individual ramekins, or eight pot de creme cups. Cover with plastic wrap and store at room temperature. Serve within a few hours.

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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Quick Chicken-Lemon Soup

Day 109: “At Home in Provence“, Patricia Wells

April 19, 2011

Here is a continuation of our French cooking theme, up for today is the side dish of Chicken and Lemon soup. I have had this soup before, but the Greek rendition called avgolemono. The soup is silky smooth and I had always wondered how that happens…now I know…it is from egg yolks.

Patricia Wells focuses on the area of Provence in France. In Provence the food isn’t as fussy as you would find in Paris, but more earthy and home cooked feeling. Imagine sitting around her kitchen table and this is the idea you get while reading Well’s cookbook. I so appreciate when a cookbook can transcend the typical recipe to take your mind and imagination on a culinary journey.

The Ruling: Once again, this was a recipe that my 15 year old made for his French class. Let’s just say he tried to make more than one thing at once, and that didn’t work so much for him. He had most of the soup done and remembered he needed to add in the chicken, so by the time the chicken was cooked we had more of a porrage than a soup. The soup had thickened and became one that you could eat with a fork. It reminded me more of a risotto than a soup. Full of lemon flavor though! What this recipe taught him to do…..how not to turn the eggs into scrambled eggs by adding some of the broth to the bowl of the eggs and stirring…..how to grate fresh nutmeg.

Quick Chicken-Lemon Soup, page 95

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 quarts homemade Chicken Stock or Potager Stock
  • 1/2 cup short-grain white rice
  • sea salt to taste
  • 1 skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into matchsticks
  • 3 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 3 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • freshly grated nutmeg to taste
  • freshly ground white pepper to taste
  • fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, for garnish

Directions:

  1. In a large stockpot, bring the chicken broth to a boil over high heat. Lower the heat, add the rice and salt, and simmer, covered, for 5 minutes. Add the chicken and simmer for 5 minutes more. Taste for seasoning (The soup can be prepared to this point several hours in advance.)
  2. In a large bowl, combine the lemon juice and egg yolks, and whisk to blend. Add half of the cheese and whisk to blend. Set aside.
  3. At serving time, add a ladle of warm (not boiling) soup to the egg mixture and whisk to blend. Pout the mixture back into the stockpot, whisking briskly until well blended. Add a grating of nutmeg and pepper, and taste for seasoning. Serve in warmed shallow soup bowls, garnished with the remaining cheese and parsley.

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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Julia Child Roast Chicken

Day 108: “The 40th Anniversary Edition Mastering the Art of French Cooking” by Julia Child

April 18, 2011

When you think of Julia Child, what image pops into you head? For me it is 3 different images. First one is this SNL skit 

The next image is Julia Child herself from her cooking show The French Chef, it almost feels like she is doing a paradoy of herself  

Now how about the image from the Movie Julie and Julia with Meryl Streep?

What fun to view all of these videos out there! It was only a matter of time before I picked up on of Julia’s cookbooks….it is ok if I call her Julia because we are best friends….if we ever would have met. The French cooking is because my middle son is in his second year of French class and he had an assignment to cook a French meal with a main dish, side dish and dessert. He chose to make the main dish of the classic roasted chicken. This is a dish that everyone should know how to make. And if you are 15 and learning how to cook, why not start with the master Julia Child?

This is the book that started it all. What more can be said about it that you don’t already know? She is the master of French cooking and she isn’t even French. Originally published in 1961 where she takes all of the traditional French dishes and sauces and makes them for the average home cook to conquer. The directions are full of descriptions and will make for an entertaining day in the kitchen. Give it as a gift to your foodie friends or try making one for yourself. I think it will give you an understanding of the daunting task that Julie had in Julie and Julia.

The Ruling: Everyone loved it…..it was picked to the bone. My son made this with a classmate of his and she had it with ketchup. Yeap, you read that right! She must be related to my youngest son who likes everything with BBQ sauce. So if you make this….try to eat it without the American condiments. He skipped the section on the gravy. In retrospect maybe he should have made it so that the ketchup would have been skipped.

Roast Chicken (Poulet Roti), page 240

Ingredients:

  • A 3 pound, ready to cook roasting or frying chicken
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 Tablespoons softened butter
  • small carrot
  • onion
  • salt
  • 2 Tablespoons melted butter and 1 Tablespoon of good cooking oil for basting

Directions:

  1. Estimated roasting time for a 3 pound chicken, 1 hour and 10 to 20 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  3. Sprinkle the inside of the chicken with the salt, and smear in half the butter. Truss the chicken. Dry it throughly, and rub the skin with the rest of the butter.
  4. Place the chicken breast up in the roasting pan. Strew the vegetables around it, and set it on a rack in the middle of the preheated oven. Allow the chicken to brown lightly for 15 minutes, turning it on the left side after 5 minutes, on the right side for the last 5 minutes, and basting it with the butter and oil after each turn. Baste rapidly, so oven does not cool off. Reduce oven to 350 degrees. Leave the chicken on its side, and baste every 8 to 10 minutes, using the fat in the roasting pan when the butter and oil are exhausted. Regulate oven heat so chicken is making cooking noises, but fat is not burning.
  5. Halfway through estimated roasting time, salt the chicken and turn it on its other side. Continue basting.
  6. Fifteen minutes before end of estimate roasting time, salt again and turn the chicken breast up. Continue basting.
  7. Indications that the chicken is almost done are: a sudden rain of splatters in the oven, a swelling of the breast and slight puff of the skin, the drumstick is tender when pressed and can be moved in its socket. To check further, prick the thickest part of the drumstick with a fork. Its juices should run clear yellow. As a final check, lift the chicken and rain the juices from its vent. If the last drops are clear yellow, the chicken is definitely done. If not, roast another 5 minutes, and test again.
  8. When done, discard trussing strings and set the chicken on a hot platter. It should sit at room temperature for 5 to 10 minutes before being carved, so its juices will retreat back into the tissues.

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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Grilled Shrimp, Scallion, and Bacon Quesadillas with Smoky Guacamole

 

Day 107: “Down Home with the Neelys

April 17, 2011

Quesadillas are turning into my go to meal this Spring instead of the Paninis that we made during the winter. Quesadillas like Paninis are so versatile when it comes to their fillings. Last week we had one filled with BBQ chicken that was a little overpowering with the BBQ flavor. When I am rushed for dinner I always grab a rotisserie chicken and shred it to make quesadillas for a quick week night meal. You simply add in what your family likes to eat. I favorite add ons are green onions, green chilies and salsa. If I leave out the onions, everyone will eat it.

I was just talking about the Neelys over lunch last week. One person I knew could not stand the show, we got it down to the fact that she didn’t like all of their syrupy love for each other. Whenever people show that much PDA to each other, I am always a little skeptical. But then I know if the world of celebrity chefs, you need something to hold you apart from your competitions. For the Neelys, that something different is their love for each other. Could be worse! Their cookbook continues their theme of love and is filled with pictures of them, both together and alone growing up. As someone who is married to her high school sweetheart, I say bring the love on! The recipes are fun and full of Southern charm. I wish they lived near me as I know I would invite them over for a party on our deck.

The Ruling: I loved them! Their is only one other person in my family who likes shrimp and he liked it as well. Can I say this again….I loved the quesadillas. If you love shrimp, you will love these. Spend the extra money on the big shrimp, as i think they have so much more flavor than their little cousins. Youngest child just had a cheese quesadilla….that is ok because that meant more shrimp for me! The smoky guacamole was great as well….though we did think it was a little heavy on the onion. Take the extra time and make the guacamole! You can make this as an appetizer or a main dish. Leave the bacon out and serve it to your vegetarian friends and family.

Grilled Shrimp, Scallion, and Bacon Quesadillas with Smoky Guacamole, page 66

Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, plus more for frying tortillas
  •  4 strips thick-sliced bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces
  • 12 large shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • kosher salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 scallions
  • four 12 inch flour tortillas
  • 8 ounces shredded jack cheese

Directions:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. When the oil is hot, add the bacon and fry until crisp. Transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.
  2. Heat the grill (or grill pan) to a medium-high setting. Place the shrimp, garlic, remaining tablespoon of oil, and salt and pepper in a medium bowl, and toss to combine. When the grill is hot, use tongs to place the shrimp and scallions across the grates. Cook until the shrimp are pink and firm (2 to 3 minutes on each side), and the scallion are charred and softened (turning them as necessary for even cooking). Transfer the shrimp and scallions to a plate to cool briefly, then coarsely chop both ingredients, toss them together in a clean bowl and keep warm.
  3. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.
  4. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, return it to the heat, and add another drizzle of oil and a tortilla. Cook the tortilla for 30 seconds, then flip it. Cover half of the tortilla with a couple of spoonfuls of cheese. Arrange a quarter of the shrimp-and-garlic mixture and a quarter of the bacon over the cheese, and fold the tortilla over. Press down gently with a spatula and cook the tortilla for a minutes or so on each side, to melt the cheese and crisp. Transfer the cooked quesadilla to a baking sheet and hold in the oven while you repeat the process with the remaining ingredients. Cut each quesadilla into 5 wedges, and transfer to plates with your spatula. Top the wedges with liberal amounts of Smoky Guacamole.

Smoky Guacamole, page 67

Ingredients:

  • 2 large rip avocados
  • 1/2 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro leaves
  • kosher salt

Directions:

  1. Peel and pit the avocados, and place them in a medium bowl. Add the onion, chipotle pepper, lime juice, and cilantro, and mash together with a fork until combined but still chunky. Season to taste with salt.

 

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.

5 Comments

Filed under Appetizers, Fast Meals, Grill, Main Dishes, Vegetarian