Though we are young at heart (i.e. super immature), my husband and I are now trying to keep up with our metabolisms that are seeming to slow down at a much quicker rate than we would like. In our 20s and early 30s, we could eat anything and not really worry about exercising and we looked fine and felt fine.
My husband turned 40 this year and I am close behind him for closing out this decade and we have noticed changes in our overall health. Which is why we are desperately trying to hold onto any remnants of our youthful selves that we can. My husband has started running everyday and I have joined a pilates studio.
My pilates instructor told me that only about 20% of a healthy lifestyle happens during your workout. 80% happens outside of the class, mostly what you put in your body. Booooo! I want to eat birthday cake every night for the rest of my life. WHY CAN’T I HAVE THIS REALITY? WHY!!!!
Okay, reality in check, the other week, we went to Costco and loaded up on bulk items. I love having a stocked pantry that you can make up all kinds of wonderful meals. In the past year, my husband and I have started focusing on having healthier pantry items in order to be able to whip up more quality meals for ourselves. During that trip we picked up a large sack of farro to test out and a flat of canned garbanzo beans because my husband has a fabulous hummus recipe that I love. If any of you have farro recipes, send them my way!
Farro tastes like rice and barley mixed together. It has a nice chewiness to it. I made this cold salad out of it which was such a delicious side dish to grilled tri tip, but also can be eaten on its on as a lunch. Anyway, enjoy everyone.
This weekend, we went hiking through an ecological preserve. Lots of different bird varieties are here right now, especially Mallard ducks. We must’ve seen at least 50 of them. We also spotted a few rag tag attempts at shelter, surely from homeless people in the area. Certainly disconcerting and sad.
After a few hours of traipsing through trails that led into open alcoves of low lying foliage where we threw tennis balls to the dogs, we decided to head back home. On the way home, my husband offered to cook us a delicious taco dinner. While I cook most of our meals, he knows his way around the kitchen and especially loves to grill on the weekends. Sometimes it is nice to sit back and be cooked for, especially when it is as delicious as this.
Every month we take a trip to Costco to load up on bulk items, such as flour, rice, canned beans, and canned tomatoes, etc… I have to admit, I love shopping there. Sure at first the crazed busy shopper experience got on my nerves, but now I am a pro. I know how to navigate the store, going in a counter clockwise direction around the store. This navigational trail seems to put us out of the course of frenzied craziness and only on the outskirts of traffic. If you must put yourself through the gauntlet of traffic, wait no, you want to swim upstream at this store!
Anyway, last week I picked up a large sack of farro, thinking hmmm… I have never had farro before. Looks healthy… says its organic… I wonder what that tastes like… Sold! (So if any of you have farro recipes, send them my way!)
Farro tastes like rice and barley mixed together. It has a nice chewiness to it. I made a cold salad out of it which was such a delicious side dish to grilled chicken, but also ate it on its on as a lunch. Anyway, enjoy everyone.
This is a recipe that is a shout out to my Mom. It is one that she made for us all the time, be it a side dish, a snack or something to take to a covered-dish supper. As with most things with my mother, it had to be delicious but also simple, which I appreciate now that I have to replicate my childhood food memories.
As an adult, I have found myself using this as a quick complete grab and go lunch item that I can make at the beginning of the week and throw into containers in the fridge. Grab this, an apple and a water; and I am ready for a day at the office. So yes Mom, you are still feeding me, even a million miles away!
Cabbage Rolls are a perfect dish for the holidays. Especially when you have a lot of people coming together for a meal, as this makes quite a bit of food. This is one of our quintessential family recipes. Enjoy!
When I married into my husband’s family, my last name changed from Irish origins to a name that hails from Slovakia. Luckily for me, along with this new name came some new food traditions.
Cabbage Rolls were lovingly called “pigs” in my husband’s inner circle. He too had a grandmother who could throw her weight around in the kitchen and she would make huge pots of these cabbage rolls for her entire family.
This is a traditional dish for my husband’s family, though I am not sure if it has been Americanized since his grandmother moved to the United States with her husband before she started having children in the 1940’s. Nevertheless, we all think it is wonderful and we make huge pots of it now when there are family get-togethers and celebrations.
Though I never got to meet my husband’s grandmother, I do feel as though I know a…
I took a couple of days off from work and hunkered down in my tiny apartment kitchen to bake my annual holiday basket. This is my seventh year baking this basket and as can be imagined, the basket has evolved and grown (some may say, it has grown into a crazy endeavor.)
This year, I made sixteen treats over the course of four days. Even though it was well thought out with spreadsheets and I knew I would be excited to send off the goodies to my family and friends; halfway through, I was feeling the craziness of it all! But the beat goes on and so did my baking.
For my sixth treat for my annual holiday basket was a cranberry pistachio shortbread lightly scented with orange.
It is citrus season around here and we have lemons and oranges laying around everywhere. Coming from a family that taught sustainable living at a very early age, canning and preserving food is second nature to me.
The other day, I made lemon curd and I’ve been sneaking in the kitchen, under the glow of the open refrigerator, stealing little spoons of tart pleasure every now and then. Mmmm…. Yesterday, I turned that lemon curd into a dreamy lemon bar. My favorite, an easy recipe with few ingredients that turns out delicious.
Lemon Curd Bars
1 cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sugar
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 10 – 12 ounce jar lemon curd
In a large mixing bowl beat butter with an electric mixer on medium speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar; beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally. Add flour and baking powder; beat until just combined and mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Reserve 2/3 cup of the crumb mixture; set aside. Press the remaining crumb mixture into the bottom of a greased 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Bake in a 375 degree F oven for 5 to 8 minutes or until the top is golden. Remove from oven. Spread lemon curd over hot crust to within 1/2 inch of the edges of the pan. Sprinkle crumb mixture over lemon curd. Bake for 18 to 20 minutes more or until edges are golden and topping is browned. Cool in pan on a wire rack. Cut into bars. Cover and store in the refrigerator.
Today, it is a rainy, cold day across much of the United States. It is definitely one of those days where you want to snuggle up on the couch, under a blanket, and watch a really good movie. Personally, Ferris Bueller is my go to rainy, day movie, but to each their own.
More than watching a movie, I LOVE having something warm to put in my tummy. This kicked up soup, layered with spicy flavor, will definitely warm your belly on these lingering cold, gray winter days. I used leftover black eyed peas, but you could use any cooked bean hanging out in your kitchen. Get creative and make it your own!
16 oz. black eyed peas, cooked (or your preferred bean)
1-2 cups, ham, chopped
1 tbsp garlic
½ tsp oregano
1 ½ cups onion, chopped
3 tbsp cumin
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 handful fresh parsley, finely chopped
1 cup scallions, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot over medium heat, saute onion, celery, carrots, and red pepper in olive oil for five minutes. Add garlic, bay leaf, thyme, oregano, and cumin. Cook 5 minutes. Add stock, beans, meat and parsley, and scallions. Cook for 30 – 40 minutes. Add cayenne pepper, salt, and pepper. Bring back to heat. Serves 4 – 6. Refrigerate or freeze any leftovers.
I know this is a seemingly boring post, but every cook worth their salt should have a stock recipe. In my freezer I have two bags, one for odds and ends vegetables and one for any bones. Once a month I make a stock out of whatever is available up there. Of course, if you are vegetarian, you could substitute more vegetables in place of the bones/meat to make a wonderful vegetable stock.
As with all recipes, this is just a beginning point. Every stock I make is different, because I add whatever veggies and herbs are sitting around in my kitchen. As with everything in life, food can only be as strong as its foundation. A great stock can transform ordinary run of the mill dishes to something extremely nosh-worthy.
Ideas for use: Soup, Rice, Stuffing/Dressing, Gravy, Stew, and so much more….
Master Stock Recipe
4-5 lbs bones
2-4 quarts water, approximately
1 large onion, coarsely chopped
2 medium carrots, coarsely chopped
1 bay leaf
6 sprigs fresh thyme, oregano, or rosemary
2 medium celery ribs, coarsely chopped
1/4 cup flat leaf parsley, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon black peppercorns
Salt to taste
Place ingredients in a large stock pot and bring to a boil. Simmer uncovered for 2 hours. (Try not to let the stock boil, this will make it cloudier in the end.) Remove from heat. Remove any meat pieces to use in another recipe. Strain broth, using a fine mesh strainer or cheesecloth. Taste broth and salt to taste. The broth can now be used or refrigerated. Stock can also be frozen.
Ah, a scone, like a biscuit, but sweeter. To tell you the truth, I am biased. I am from the southern United States and I can’t think of too many things I cherish more than a homemade buttermilk biscuit.
I have to be honest, my first tasting experience with a scone left much to be desired. I was in a high school home economics class at the time (do they even still have those?) For those of you, who never took one of these classes, you learned various ways to take care of a home and a family in a budget conscious way.
One portion of the class was dedicated to cooking and this dry little hockey puck of a thing emerged from the oven. The small amount of sugar included in the dough was not saving it. I haven’t had a scone since then, thinking that I just was not a fan.
I didn’t think about it again, until the other day when my husband brought home a blue can of Heinz beanz. I know you are thinking, what do beans have to do with it. Believe me, I was too.
Smiling, he said, “I thought you would like these,” as if a can of beans were a prize. Me staring blankly. He said, “it’s for breakfast. You put it on toast…” It crept in, I had remembered watching a documentary on the Heinz corporation (yes, I am that nerdy) and seeing this English breakfast item.
I have to admit, beans in the morning does not seem that appealing and in an attempt to stall for “research” time, it quickly jogged my memory of the neglected little scone that I gave up on so many years ago. However, in my research of the scone, I found that scones seemed to be eaten more as a snack than a breakfast item, but to me the scone seems more breakfast-y, so this morning, I am trying again at scones (and saving the beans for another day.)
I had some dried cranberries left over from holiday baking and of course, with it being citrus season around here, I have plenty of oranges laying around, so I added these components to the dough. They came out light and airy, having a beautiful crumb to them. Of course, I smeared them with lemon curd. Yum!
Orange Cranberry Scones
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, frozen
1 tsp orange zest, heaping
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2- 3/4 cup sour cream
1 large egg
extra sugar to sprinkle on top
Adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
In a medium bowl, mix flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Cut butter into flour using a fork or pastry blender (mixture should resemble coarse meal), then stir in zest and cranberries.
In a small bowl, whisk sour cream and egg until smooth.
Using a fork, stir sour cream mixture into flour mixture until large dough clumps form. Use your hands to press the dough against the bowl into a ball. (The dough will be sticky in places, and there may not seem to be enough liquid at first, but as you press, the dough will come together.)
Place on a lightly floured surface and pat into a 6- to 7-inch circle about 1 1/2-inches thick. Sprinkle with remaining 1 tsp. of sugar. Use a sharp knife to cut into 8 triangles; place on a cookie sheet (preferably lined with parchment paper), about 1 inch apart. Bake until golden, about 15 to 17 minutes. Cool for 5 minutes and serve warm or at room temperature. These can be frozen unbaked individually and would be a great quick snack for when you have pop over guests. Just increase the baking time to 20-25 minutes.