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Raising Foodies





Updated: 2017-06-15T09:55:25.265-07:00

 



And So I Leave You with Some Brownies...

2011-02-07T13:22:43.453-08:00

I've been putting-off this post for a while...avoiding the inevitable if you will, but after over three months of slakerdom in this space, I am officially retiring Raising Foodies (for now, because you just never know...)I kept thinking I would come back, I did, but it just never seemed to happen. It didn't happen after a holiday filled with cooking (and eating)... It didn't happen after I made an enormous six-layer rainbow birthday cake for Millie... It didn't happen after baking spice cupcakes, a cake, and the best brownies of all-time on the same snowy, house-bound day.So I finally came to terms with the fact that it was never going to happen, and this is my attempt at closure. (I'm a fan of therapy, can you tell?)I am proud of what "Raising Foodies" was. I loved interacting with you guys in this space, I loved that it made me think about how we were preparing and eating our food... that it was the catalyst for the girlies to try lots of new things they may not have otherwise.But I think what I'm most proud of is how it's changed the way we approach dinner every night as a family. Our meals now are very different than they were pre-"Foodies". They're less harried, more mindful, more wholesome. We eat out very rarely (a major change), all four of us preferring to eat at home most nights. Sure some of this can be attributed to the fact that the girls are older, more independent and amenable, making cooking easier, but I believe when you put a goal out there, when you invite others to be a part of it, thus feeling some accountability to those people, it will change you.So thank you. Thank you for being a part of our little food adventure, for helping us change.And as a token of my appreciation, I've leaving you with (literally) the best brownies I have. ever. eaten. (and I have eaten a lot of brownies). I made them last night, and I'm not going to lie...they were a revelation.Oh and they were super easy too. Enjoy!Alice Medrich's Cocoa Brownies with Browned Butter and Walnuts (via Bon Appetit)Ingredients:Nonstick vegetable oil spray10 tablespoons (1 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces1 1/4 cups sugar3/4 cup natural unsweetened cocoa powder (spooned into cup to measure, then leveled) 1 teaspoon vanilla extract 2 large eggs, chilled 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon unbleached all purpose flour 1 cup walnut piecesPreparation:Position rack in bottom third of oven; preheat to 325°F. Line 8x8x2-inch metal baking pan with foil, pressing foil firmly against pan sides and leaving 2-inch overhang. Coat foil with nonstick spray.Melt butter in medium saucepan over medium heat. Continue cooking until butter stops foaming and browned bits form at bottom of pan, stirring often, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat; immediately add sugar, cocoa, 2 teaspoons water, vanilla, and 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt. Stir to blend. Let cool 5 minutes (mixture will still be hot).Add eggs to hot mixture 1 at a time, beating vigorously to blend after each addition. When mixture looks thick and shiny, add flour and stir until blended. Beat vigorously 60 strokes. Stir in nuts. Transfer batter to prepared pan.Bake brownies until toothpick inserted into center comes out almost clean (with a few moist crumbs attached), about 25 minutes. Cool in pan on rack. Using foil overhang, lift brownies from pan. Cut into 4 strips. Cut each strip crosswise into 4 brownies. DO AHEAD Can be made 2 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. [...]



Some Grown-Up Food

2010-11-01T13:57:08.327-07:00

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I spend a lot of time scanning menus, honing in on the items the girls will eat and enjoy (key to our entire dining out experience) while trying to avoid automatically resorting to the kid's menu dregs of chicken nuggets and buttery noodles.

In fact, I spend so much time thinking about what the girlies will consume that when I do find myself dining sans kids (it doesn't happen often), I still inevitably scan the menu for the "safe" choices. It's a hard habit to break.

A couple of weeks ago my hubby and I spent an weekend in Austin for our tenth anniversary -- with no kids in tow. We were (of course) excited about the alone time...the chance to hang out, meander in museums, go for drives without having to mitigate backseat dramas...but we were absolutely giddy with excitement about the food possibilities. We planned our meals with the precision of a general going into battle. (I even e-mailed this fantastic blogger for some restaurant suggestions, as while Bryan and I lived in Austin for many years, it was over a decade ago, and when we visit, we tend to frequent the same spots.)

While we ended up eating some admittedly "kid-friendly" fare -- namely lots of tacos (it was Austin after all) and a *huge* stack of pumpkin pancakes at Kirby Lane, we did revel in such adult indulgences as fresh arugula and heady gorgonzola pizza and an amazing, magical, wholly unique meal at Uchiko. It was maybe the best meal I've ever had...it lasted almost 3 hours, involved a genius French waiter, prosecco with grilled thyme and lemons and insanely delicious food that I couldn't pronounce.

It was definitely not a kid's meal.

We need to do that more often.



Friends There Was Sushi...

2010-10-11T08:53:21.065-07:00

I suppose I first have to address my utter and complete slackerdom when it comes to this blog. Honestly I'm not quite sure what's happening here...we shop for food, we cook food and we eat food (a lot lately in fact), but when it comes to writing about food, I got nothin, nada, zilch.But here's the thing, I'm not going to overthink it, rather I'm just going to forge forward, as sometimes I think the best way to bust through a rut is to stop thinking so much and just do. Yes?So now for our latest foodie adventure...as you probably gleaned from the title, it involved sushi (which is well...huge) and Millie, who it should be noted, is by far the pickier of my two girlies.As I mentioned in my last post, one of our all-time favorite reads is The First Book of Sushi... Audrey was obsessed with it as a toddler, and now the tattered and torn little board book is a daily read for Millie. But here's the difference, while Audrey loved reading it, she never once connected the words and images on the pages with food she would actually want to consume. Millie, on the other hand, is obsessed with both reading about and (the idea of) eating sushi. So much so, that for the past couple of months, every. single. time. we'd finish reading the book, she'd sigh really dramatically and say, "I want sushi."Umm...ok.Now a good "foodie"mom (especially one that loves sushi as much as I do) would have taken her kids to eat it early on...to get their palettes used to the different flavors and textures, but here's the thing (and I know you know this) sushi is expensive. And I couldn't bear to throw down loads of cash only to have them whine and gag and partake in their usual "there's no possible way I'm eating that" dinner theater.... So I waited. But then Millie started asking for California rolls and miso soup and shrimp ebi, and it was officially go time.I'd like to report that she loved it, that sushi has now become a go-to meal, that neither girl ended up eating giant bowls of cereal when we got home, but I can't. I can say that Millie was an excellent sport. She tried everything we gave her, didn't gag or spit anything out and seemed to be generally excited about the entire enterprise, which I have to say, is in and of itself a pretty big accomplishment...Next up tripe. ;-)[...]



Foodie Books

2010-09-07T11:10:11.797-07:00

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It's been quiet on the foodie front friends. I suppose we've been on a bit of a hiatus -- pretty much "post our berry crumble video and bolt."

It wasn't intentional, really. I suppose matters of food have just been a bit on the back-burner. We've been cooking and eating (of course), but it's been awfully basic fare. Our current rotation consists of grilled chicken or steak, the feta roasted potatoes, roasted cauliflower, sauteed green beans, quiche, spaghetti and the occasional grilled Gouda with tomatoes and artichoke hearts. (That was the "exotic" night.)

There's no long-winded explanation...it's just been hot, and we've been busy, and, well I've been a slacker. Case in point -- I made chocolate chip cookies for Audrey's class from pre-made dough (Central Market has the best) and bought her birthday cake.

Bad I know.


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We have, on the other hand, been reading lots of books about food. I've been pouring through Jenny's genius Time for Dinner like I actually plan to cook something, and Millie is obsessed with My Foodie ABC. (Audrey's favorite book at three was First Book of Sushi, so it's fitting really).

It's good stuff...she cracks up over the xuxu every single time.

Every time.



A Winner + A Raising Foodies Video...

2010-08-11T07:52:19.624-07:00

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First up the winner of the Fanny at Chez Panisse giveaway... Congrats Elena!

I also owe you guys some truly heartfelt thanks, as I now have a slew of incredibly yummy looking sides to give a whirl. So thanks for that!

Ok now for something fun (and, well... a little vulnerable too). My dear friend Ben and my lovely cousin Erin filmed the girlies and me cooking up a little berry crumble* a few weeks ago and worked it into the very first Raising Foodies Video for your viewing pleasure.

Take a peek...


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*When I first posted about the berry crumble it was a complete disaster...gag-fest 2009 for Audrey. But it is now one of her all-time favorite things. Amazing what can happen in a year.



Weekend

2010-08-06T08:59:04.479-07:00

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I'm a huge fan of Debbie Carlos' photography (Millie is especially partial to her bunny poster), so I was jazzed to find her food blog, weekend (image above via Debbie). It's totally fantastic... definitely worth a peek.

Happy Friday friends...cook something yummy!

p.s. -- thanks for all the rockin' sides...you guys are the best!




Stuck... (+ A Little Giveaway)

2010-08-03T13:42:10.343-07:00

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For some reason, the task of dreaming up good side dishes is vexing me lately. I keep going to my fall backs -- the fool-proof trifecta of goodness that is roasted asparagus, roasted cauliflower or roasted new potatoes with rosemary and feta (or a little salad; I do turn out formidable salads), but given our current heat wave, cranking the oven up to 400 is a death wish.

It's possible that I'm just not that inventive, but there's also the matter of how picky the girlies are when it comes to sides. There's just not much that they dig. I'm at a loss.

So I propose a trade...I'll give you guys the recipe for this crazy good corn salad that I made recently (but that the girls didn't like at all, sadly) and you give me the lowdown on your favorite side.

(For the record, I would have given you the corn salad recipe anyway...I just like you that much.)

So to further sweeten the deal, I'll pick one of you at random and send you a copy of one of my all time favorite foodie books, Fanny at Chez Panisse. Just leave your favorite side in the comments section of this post by next Wednesday the 11th and I'll announce a winner later that week!

Cool?

Herewith the corn salad. It's truly yummy; my girlies are nuts...

Ingredients
  • 4 cups fresh corn kernels (from 4 ears)
  • 1 jalapeño, seeded and thinly sliced (wear gloves!!! I didn't and burned the heck out of my hands...)
  • 1/2 cup crumbled Feta (2 ounces)
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt and black pepper

Bring corn to a boil in a large pot of water (do not salt water but you can add a pinch of sugar) and cook for six minutes once water starts to boil. Drain immediately and set aside to cool.

Once cooled, cut kernels from corn and combine in a large bowl with the jalapeños, lime juice, oil, salt and pepper. Sprinkle with the Feta before serving.




Family Dinner...

2010-07-29T18:55:26.256-07:00

(image) "make dinner not war" sticker courtesy of the fantastic Jenny... and you could win one too...

We've had some pretty stellar family dinners of late...but they had nothing to do with the actual meals we've made.

Actually, they were in spite of the food, which has been pretty routine and uninventive... Let's just say our current repertoire is heavy in such mundane standbys as spaghetti and meatballs and "taco night" (and not "chic tacos", but the old school ones-- a little meat, a little cheese, a little lettuce, a crispy corn shell. The tacos of our youth. I'm not proud, but it is what it is.)

So the meals not so great, but the meal-time, pretty darn good.

We made a decision early on that we wanted to eat dinner as a family at the table at least five nights a week. It wasn't an easy decision to make or more accurately, it wasn't an easy decision to stick too; it was actually pretty easy to proclaim... See sticking to it means that sometimes we eat at 5:30, because the girls are going nuts with hunger, and if there isn't food on the table at exactly that moment (which we've affectionately dubbed "the witching hour") then surely all hell will break loose. Sticking to it also means that up until recently, (if I'm being perfectly honest here) meals are often...well, a total nightmare. Eating with small kids is hard, and messy, and hard.

Did I mention it was hard?

But, as with a staggeringly large number of kid-related experiences, one day you wake up, and well, it's not so hard anymore. All the gnashing and agonizing pays off, and it's suddenly how you thought it would be when you made that original (smug) proclamation.

And that's pretty much where we are when it comes to meal-time these days. On a typical night (and yes, there are still some exceptions when dinner is all world war II -esque) we wait for everyone to sit down at the table before anyone takes a bite (which is especially hard for Millie, but she still pulls it off sweet girl) and then we start off each meal with a little ritual -- a blessing, the clinking of glasses and a hearty "bon appetite." Everyone eats quietly for a few minutes (ok a few seconds) and then we go around and each say what was best about our day. I know, I know, it sounds a little Normal Rockwell, but it's happening. I promise.

Sure there's still chaos -- taco meat on the floor (the shop vac makes an appearance after every. single. meal.), someone screaming, someone getting up from the table repeatedly for more milk, a bathroom trip, an impromptu dance...It is not perfect, but it's good. In fact, so good, that with each passing meal I can see ever more clear glimpses of what dinner might look like in say five years.
And that I'm really excited about.



Cooking for One...

2010-07-19T09:33:18.200-07:00

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I'm lucky to be able to work out of my house a couple of days a week.

And while it's nice to not have to make the commute into the office, to be able to work in my yoga pants and to occasionally walk or ride my bike to get Audrey from school, the best part of this set-up is, by far, lunch.

I love knowing that exactly two days a week, I get to cook whatever. I. want. I get to create a little meal that is 100% completely and wholly for me. On those two days, I don't have to worry that Bryan doesn't like olives or blue cheese or tuna or that the girlies don't like, well...where do I start with what they don't like. There are no other palettes to consider, no other diners to cajole or convince into eating.

It's bliss.

Even during my most persistent cooking funks, these little meals feel inspired. I throw things in with abandon and take ample risks, as I figure if the dish is a flop, I'm the only one who will know (+ if all else fails I can eat a carton of Greek yogurt and some fruit...)

My go-to solo-meal of late is either a simple pasta with whatever is in the fridge or pantry (and usually involving some olives or few capers, just because I can) or an omelet with lots of feta and sauteed veggies. I've eaten some variation of this for the past month, and it shows no sign of waning.

So I'd love to hear, how does this work in your house? Do you ever cook for just yourself? What do you make?



It All Comes Back to Cobbler

2010-07-06T14:46:03.077-07:00

I had intended to write an altogether different post today...one that lamented my absence from the kitchen and featured lovely photos of all the restaurant food we've eaten in the past few weeks. Yep, I was all set to write a post telling you that I was feeling about cooking pretty much how Millie looks in that photo above...blah. Oh and I was going to tell you that when we aren't eating in restaurants, we're just noshing on lots of cheese plates.I was pretty much going to write that.But then, lo, a holiday weekend rolled around, and, well... I cooked. I cooked a lot. Yes, hot dogs were one of the things I cooked, and clearly that doesn't count as cooking, but I also made a fantastic corn, jalapeno, feta salad and a yummy tomato, cucumber salad, and a nice pasta dish, and a really stellar (if I do say so myself) peach, raspberry cobbler. So alas, there will be no restaurant photos today.At some point this weekend, I also realized that I stopped cooking right at my 100th post on this blog... Strange, no? And in looking back over the archives during a mild bout of insomnia, I also discovered that almost exactly one year to the day, I was making, wait for it, peach cobbler.Hmm...Really I have nothing to conclude from all of this, except to say, we're cooking again, which is good. Oh and I would highly recommend this cobbler.Peach Raspberry Cobbler -- Adapted from the Joy of CookingFilling7 -9 medium peaches2 cups of raspberries1/4 cup of sugarTopping1 cup all-purpose four1 teaspoon baking soda1/4 teaspoon salt1/8 teaspoon cinnamon1/8 teaspoon vanilla4 tablespoons butter softened1/3 cup of sugar1 large egg1/4 cup buttermilkCut peaches into even slices and cover the bottom of an oval baking dish evenly. Top with the raspberries and evenly sprinkle fruit with the 1/4 cup of sugar. Set aside.Wisk together thoroughly the flour, baking soda, salt and cinnamon.In a separate bowl, beat the butter, vanilla and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg and then add half the dry ingredients and beat on low until just incorporated.Beat in the buttermilk and then add the remaining dry ingredients until the batter is just smooth.Spoon the batter evenly over the fruit mixture and cook for about 35 minutes on 350. Let cool for at least 15 minutes before serving.[...]



Other People's Food

2010-06-14T11:43:45.399-07:00

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I did not make these lemon bars.

No, it was Christine. She brought them to dinner at my house a couple of weeks ago, and friends, they were insanely good. She assured me they are both super easy and super quick, so I gave them a whirl last weekend, and, well...she was right.

A couple of notes here: first off, almost everything fantastic I've eaten of late somebody else has made. I need to get my culinary game on. I'm considering some cooking classes to freshen up the repertoire.

Second, I had already made dessert the night Christine and family came for dinner, so I put the lemon bars in the freezer to keep. This was a serendipitous move as the bars are killer "frozen"... sort of a cross between a lemon bar and a lemon ice cream-ish thing. (I actually let them thaw on the counter for just a few minutes, but not long.) Totally fantastic.


Christine's Lemon Bars (recipe from Martha Stewart)

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more for pan
  • 1/2 cup confectioners' sugar, plus more for dusting
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour (spooned and leveled)
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)

Directions

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan. Line bottom with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on two sides; butter paper.

Make crust: Using an electric mixer, beat butter, sugar, and salt until light and fluffy. Add flour, and mix on low just until combined. Press dough into the bottom and 1/2 inch up sides of prepared pan; prick all over with a fork. Bake until lightly golden, 15 to 20 minutes.

Make filling: In a large bowl, whisk together yolks, condensed milk, and lemon juice until smooth. Pour over hot crust in pan; return to oven, and bake until filling is set, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely in pan.

Refrigerate until filling is firm, about 2 hours or up to 3 days. Using paper overhang, lift cake onto a work surface; cut into 16 squares, and dust with confectioners sugar.



The Summer Edible...

2010-06-09T11:27:39.316-07:00

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is out, and I'm so excited to have an article in it about a new restaurant/catering company at the Dallas Farmers Market.

If you want to take a peek it's on page 16 here...



Our Go-To Meal (For Now...)

2010-06-02T11:59:20.236-07:00

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Contrary to those photos above, this is not a post about asparagus. No, it's about quiche... We're having an awfully big quiche moment of late.

Specifically we're having a "quiche for dinner" moment, as I've fallen back on making it far too often than I'd like to admit lately.

It's ironic really, as quiche and I got off to an awfully rocky start, my first attempt was both comical and mildly infuriating. So after some searching, I've officially aligned myself with Rachel's classic quiche recipe (which is super easy and basic and maybe, slightly more virtuous, as she uses milk instead of cream), and then I mix up my toppings depending on our mood on any given night. My M.O. is to cut the richness of the quiche by serving it alongside a little light mixed green salad with vinagrette or some roasted aspargus and a few sliced tomatoes from our plants (above.)

The most exciting part is that the girlies. love. quiche. Especially a simple bacon or ham and cheese number (I use seaside cheddar, as it's utterly divine -- nutty + a little bit salty...perfection.) My favorite part of our quiche moment though is how whenever we have it for dinner (which as noted above is a lot) Millie chants ever so zen-like, "ohhh quiche, quiche, quiche" and then giggles hysterically like it's the funniest word she's ever said.

It's lovely.

So are you quiche peeps? What is your favorite combo?



Here's What *Could* Happen if You Grow Tomatoes

2010-05-26T13:43:18.522-07:00

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It's altogether possible (but I'm not making any guarantees) that your six-year old daughter might visit the plants every single day to check on the progress of said tomatoes...

It's also possible (but again no promises) that when the tomatoes ripen, the same six-year old girl (who doesn't really even like tomatoes -- that is unless they are grape tomatoes and she's staarrving) will lovingly pluck them off the vine, carefully rinse them off and pat them dry and then gingerly place them in a bowl on the windowsill.

And that same girl just might also declare one evening during dinner that she would like to have tomatoes for dessert.

For. Dessert.

"You know", she'll say... "just sliced up, with a little salt on top."

And then she might eat them all...every. single. slice., so that you and your husband literally have to distract her so you can get just a teeny tiny sliver of homegrown tomato for yourself.

And then you might faint. I'm just sayin. It could happen.



Sweet Paul + School Lunch Update

2010-05-18T07:21:41.485-07:00

image via sweet paul magazineHave you seen the new magazine from genius food blogger/ stylist sweet paul? It's completely inspiring and lovely and the recipes are seriously drool-worthy.In (digitally) flipping through it, I was especially jazzed about the photo above, as it solved a vexing "snack" dilemma I've been wrestling with.Tomorrow night, a group of other neighborhood moms are meeting at my house to talk "school lunch" and come up with some changes we'd like to see implemented at our elementary school. (I haven't talked about school lunch here in a while, but I'm pretty excited about the direction we're headed.)Needless to say, I was a wee bit stressed about what kind of snack to serve a group of ladies while talking about putting healthier food in our kid's lunch rooms, so when I saw the picture above I had a sort of eureka moment... So easy, so pretty -- some pecans, some pears, a little cheese, some dried apricots, a few water crackers... Done and done.I'm totally copying Paul. 100% copying... that exact snack box you see above. (except maybe on a tray and not a box, we'll see.)Ok, back to school lunch. Several of these same ladies and I got together a few months ago to watch the excellent documentary 2 Angry Moms. (If you're at all interested in the school lunch issue, I would highly recommend buying this and hosting a screening for other moms, it's fantastic!) Since then, there have been several other group meet-ups, a meeting between one of the especially motivated moms and our district food service director (!), and I had a chance to chat with the head of the lunch program at Audrey's school. There's real traction and a strong sense in our community that folks are interested in making sure our schools serve healthy food, which is so incredibly encouraging, no?The really exciting news though is that I think the stars are aligning and change is already happening...what seemed like an uphill battle just months ago now seems to be moving rapidly forward (maybe it's the changes to the Child Nutrition Act or the Jamie Oliver show and petition {have you signed the petition yet?} or public pressure...who knows, but something is going on.) For example, I got a sneak peek at the menu for next year and all white grains have been replaced with whole wheat, they're offering loads more fresh fruits and veggies (I was especially excited about the addition of snap peas), and they've eliminated pudding and processed branded meals (i.e. that Smucker's crustable pb&j currently on the menu.)Progress friends, progress...I'll keep you posted on how things shake out (both the meeting and that cheese box ;-)[...]



Book Club Dinner (and "Easy" Beans)

2010-05-10T11:19:38.662-07:00

We hosted our couple's book club on Saturday with a little Mexican meal. We've been doing this book club with three of our closet couple friends for the past five years, and the person that picks the book hosts the dinner and makes something that matches the "theme" of what we're reading. This time around, hubby picked God's Middle Finger, so we decided to make a little Mexican meal to accompany us on our literary journey into the "lawless heart of the Sierra Madre."Bryan whipped up a big batch of homemade chips that we served with guacamole, followed by flank steak topped with "magic sauce" and pork tamales with tomatillo sauce + beautiful rice and super easy beans...I love these beans, and surprisingly (they're pretty spicy and feel a little "grown-up") so does Audrey. But I have to admit they are a bit of a cheat (maybe I should call them "cheater beans" instead of "easy beans"), as I use canned pintos and pre-made pico de guillo as the base.I know, I know...Before I share the recipe, I have to say that Mexican food is my favorite cuisine to make in the spring and summer -- it's easy, incredibly yummy and, well...(for lack of a better adjective) fresh. + there are the margaritas, which honestly might be the real impetus for all of this. I'm just sayin. Easy (cheater) Mexican Beans (serves 6):3 pieces of bacon1/2 container of pico de guillo2 cans of organic pinto beans1 can of light beer1/2 cup organic chicken brothkosher salt + pepper to tastefry the bacon, remove from pan and coarsely chop, reserve bacon grease and move pan off the heat.Once the grease has cooled a bit, add the pico de guillo (be careful when adding as the grease will splatter) and return to medium high heat. Saute the pico until the onions are lightly browned.Add the beans and the chopped bacon to the sauteed pico and stir together over medium high heat for a few more minutes.Add the beer and the chicken broth to the bean mixture, turn the heat up to high and bring to a boil for about 7 minutes.Turn heat to lowest setting, cover beans and let cook for about 30 minutes. Be sure to check beans frequently, and if the liquid gets too low add a little more chicken broth. You'll want the beans to be thick with a little liquid but not soupy.Add kosher salt and pepper to taste (I also like to add just a bit of fajita seasoning.)[...]



My New Favorite Food Blog

2010-05-05T13:56:01.016-07:00

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Is Dinner: A Love Story...

It's serioulsy fantastic. (via the always genius design mom)



Because Complicated Is Overrated...

2010-04-30T08:25:57.506-07:00

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For me, Spring always represents the start of simple, easy food...

Our dinner routine in these months usually consists of throwing some meat or chicken on the grill or pulling together a little pasta and then roasting some veggies or tossing together simple salads (I live for salad.) Luckily the girlies are down with this plan. They especially love (now after much consternation and cajoling...I don't give up easily friends) roasted asparagus and cauliflower and are nuts for lightly steamed broccoli drizzled with a little butter and lemon juice.

When we were at the beach last week my friend Julie (who is a master of this easy, fresh cooking) threw together some potatoes that seemed not only ridiculously simple but were literally the best potatoes I've ever had...sounds dramatic I know, but it's true...
So I set out to recreate them last night to serve with some grilled steak and (yep) roasted asparagus. They were fantastic. Definitely going into the regular rotation.

I would highly recommend giving them a whirl this weekend!

Roasted Potatoes with Feta Cheese:
  • Medium Red Potatoes (1-2 per person)
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • Olive Oil
  • Feta Cheese
  • Rosemary
Pre-heat oven to 400

Pierce potatoes several times with a fork and put into a microwave safe boil. Toss with a generous amount of olive oil, kosher salt and pepper. Cook on high heat for about 8 minutes or until the potatoes are tender.

Transfer potatoes to a cookie sheet and transfer to pre-heated oven for about 15 minutes or until the outside of the potatoes start to crisp up a bit.

Once slightly crispy remove from oven and make a little slit in the top of each potato, smashing open a bit with a fork, put a good amount of crumbled feta cheese, chopped rosemary and more salt and pepper in each opening and put back in the oven for 5 minutes.

Before serving, smash the potatoes open a bit more and stir around in the olive oil that has collected on the bottom of the cookie sheet.



In Praise of Al Fresco Dining...

2010-04-14T07:29:55.539-07:00

(image) I complain a lot about the Texas heat.

A lot...

But with a warm climate comes especially lovely Spring and Fall weather. (And often winter -- we've been known to have 70 degree days in December...it's true.) Otherwise known as ample opportunities to eat outside.

Food tastes better eaten outside...it just does. And somehow, my otherwise unruly-at-meal-time kiddos seem to mellow out when we dine in our backyard. Maybe they're blissed out by the chirping birds or maybe they're just vibing off Bryan's and my decidedly more mellow demeanor. Either way, it's a game changer.

Last Saturday we had some of our dearest friends over for a little al fresco dinner. We served that super easy orecchiette with sausage, asparagus and spinach + one of my favorite "salads" -- a tomato hollowed out and stuffed with goat cheese and honey and then baked served over some lightly dressed arugula.

A perfect outside meal for sure...


(image)
our little friend Gracie surveying the meal...



And Now The Reality...

2010-04-05T09:51:36.381-07:00

(image) Millie's first Peep, courtesy of her Grandmother...

There was lots of candy friends.

Lots more than I had planned for that is. I bought just a few things for the girlies' baskets, but then there was the school party and the school Easter egg hunt and the neighborhood Easter egg hunt and the ginormous basket that Bryan's mom gave each of them.

It was sugar-fest 2010...bigger than Halloween...epic even.

So I threw in the towel and let Sunday be a free day. Both girlies had the stomach flu a couple of days earlier, so I was feeling especially lenient (and they were especially hungry), and I just let them go for it, self-regulate. Honestly it wasn't as bad as I would have expected. They mostly wanted to taste everything, one bite and then they pretty much lost interest.

After they were in bed, I, well...(this is wasteful so I hesitate to admit it) discarded a good deal of what they had amassed, saving the best stuff in the treat bowl hidden way up in the pantry.

And then I ate the rest of it. Just kidding, but I did eat a lot, I'm just sayin...it was a bad scene.

I'm banking on the fact that one (incredibly) sugar fueled day won't kill us, right?



The Candy Conundrum...

2010-03-31T08:51:17.465-07:00

(image) this vosges barcelona bunny (hickory smoked almonds + grey sea salt + deep milk chocolate) is my Easter candy of choice...

I've been feverishly working on pulling together the girlie's Easter Baskets (somehow Easter snuck up on me this year, it's early!), and I'm facing a candy dilemma.

We are candy fans. HUGE. So much so, that I have to severely limit what we buy so that the temptation just isn't there. If there's candy in the house, Bryan and the girlies (and if it's good chocolate, clump me in there too) can sniff it out...no matter how well it's hidden. That's just how they roll.

I fear if we go cold turkey I'll end up with kids that hide in the closet to eat Snickers bars, so my typical M.O. is to go quality over quantity. I try to make the occasional dessert from scratch or buy good gelato or ice cream to avoid the candy issue altogether. And when the occasion does call for candy (i.e. this Easter basket thing), I'll buy a few really good sweets (no peeps or waxy hollow bunnies in sight) and attempt to deflect attention from the lack of massive quantities of sugar with other goodies like books and bubbles and whatnot.

But deep down (and I know this is crazy given how strongly I feel about eating well and generally avoiding, well...crap) I feel a little bad. Like I'm somehow shortchanging the girlies if their baskets aren't overflowing with Cadbury Cream Eggs and Jelly Beans.

How do you guys handle the Easter basket. Are you all in or do you rein it in??



Eating Out With Kiddos -- Part II

2010-03-22T09:26:58.525-07:00

So I've written about this topic before, but recently we've had a couple of experiences (one bad and one fantastic) that has firmly put me in the camp that believes you can have a great meal out with kiddos in tow.First up our bad experience...a horrendous meal at a chain restaurant on our way down to Austin a couple of weeks ago. I won't tell you where we ate, as I dont' want to be a meanie girl (as Millie would say), but suffice to say it was very bad food...and it wasn't cheap. It had all the hallmarks of a "kid friendly" restaurant -- loads of crayons, a gimmicky menu, plentiful high chairs, but the food, oh the food was bad. Even the girlies knew it, which was actually the high point of the meal, the fact that we've gotten to the point with them that they know when they're eating crappy food. So that's the upside I suppose.Now cut to our great experience. We took the girl's to Tillman's in Bishop Arts this past Friday night, which we'd only been to with other adult friends and on date night. This place is by no means "fancy", although I doubt many would categorize it as "kid friendly" either. But I was certain deep down that if we went early enough, the kids would love this place, and that it would be totally appropriate to bring them (they serve table-side s'mores for goodness sake...with homemade graham crackers and marshmallows, natch.)We rolled in at the embarrassingly early 5:30 to find several other families with the same idea, and it was a huge success. The food (as always) was outstanding, the kids loved the fun, interesting, cool atmosphere, and they were totally accommodated. Tillman's has the loveliest kid's menu I've ever seen, filled with cool drawings and activities + the girl's meals were served on little wood grain print melamine plates and, of course, the s'mores were a rousing success.The key, I've discovered, is embracing that embarrassingly early hour. I'm convinced (now) that we can take the girlies almost anywhere if we're willing to eat early (which truth be told, I'm always willing to do...) Now I'm busy working up a list of all the places we want to try with them. I'll report back here on all our successes.Do you guys have any favorite "grown up" restaurants where you love taking your kiddos? Maybe we can pull together a little list of great spots across the U.S.[...]



For Your Weekend Baking Needs

2010-03-12T07:29:55.228-08:00

I made the best. cookies. ever. all thanks to this lady who had the genius idea to morph the famed Neiman Marcus cookie recipe with one from Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc cookbook to essentially create, well...as I said, the best cookies ever.The secret (I think) is the brown butter, which maybe the world's most tastiness-inducing (I know, I know) ingredient. Ever since I read Jeffrey Steingarten's article in Vogue about brown butter I've been drying to try it, and now I'm hooked.the brown butter in all its glory...So a couple of things about the recipe that threw me off a bit...When I poured my brown butter over my softened butter, it totally melted it. As a result, the butter wasn't creamy when I whipped it, rather it was just liquefied, which in turn made the batter was very soft and greasy. This worried me a bit as Shayna said it would be dry (so my guess is that she let her melted butter cool a bit) but never fear, it didn't effect the sheer amazingness of the cookies at all. Also the batter is dark (due to the brown butter, natch) so the cookies might look done before they're actually done. Don't take them out too soon (I cooked my in a convection oven for about 16 minutes...)Ok that's all. Now to the important part, the recipe. Happy baking, and be sure you have someone around that will take some of these off your hands, otherwise you will eat every single one by yourself. I'm just sayin.Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (adapted from the lovely Shayna)Makes 2 dozen cookies1 stick unsalted butter, divided1 cup brown sugar, packed3 tablespoons granulated sugar1 egg2 teaspoons vanilla1 3/4 cup flour1/2 teaspoon baking soda1/2 teaspoon baking powder1/4 teaspoon salt3/4 teaspoon instant espresso powder1 cup of chocolate chips (I didn't have chocolate chips, so I busted a bittersweet chocolate bar into shards)1 cup chopped walnutsPreheat the oven to 300 degrees. Line a baking sheet with a baking mat or parchment paper.Set aside one half (4 tablespoons) stick of butter and let soften. Cut the other half in chunks and melt over a medium flame, swirling often, until it's light brown in color and has a nutty aroma.Pour the melted butter over the softened butter and beat on high for about 30 seconds until the butter has a creamy texture.Beat in both sugars until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until completely mixed.In a separate bowl sift together the flour, baking soda and baking powder. Add this to the butter mixture and beat on low until just combined. Stir in the espresso powder, chocolate chips and walnuts and finish mixing by hand.Drop the dough on to the cookie sheet about 3 inches apart. Lightly press down to flatten. Bake about 16 minutes or until lightly browned around the edges. [...]



In Print Part II -- Kid's Cookbooks

2010-03-08T09:17:55.182-08:00

(image)
(image) images via edible

A while back I collaborated with my friend, photographer Richard Adams, on a piece about kid's cookbooks for the Dallas & Ft. Worth edition of Edible magazine. I am a huge fan of Edible, as it focuses on local, sustainable food and the art direction and photography is beautiful, so I was honored to be asked to contribute...

+ Audrey loved being in the photo shoot ;-)

You can click on the image above if you want to read the piece.



A Scallops Phase...

2010-03-01T14:00:08.735-08:00

(image)
I'm a scallops fan. Huge. I don't eat them often and have (shamefully) never made them. But I had the occasion to eat them twice last week.

The first time was Thursday evening...a girls dinner at Urbano Cafe (I would highly recommend) with my friends Kristie and Christine. The scallops were seared and served over a little pool of lemon creme sauce and risotto. Incredible.

Then I had them again on Saturday at Smoke, this time served over white beans and brussel sprout chips. Equally incredible.

Now I'm officially addicted and itching to cook scallops at home...any tips?