Category: Emily

Grilled Veggie Tacos with Salsa-Ranch Dressing

Grilled Veggie Tacos with Salsa-Ranch Dressing

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Did you eat too many chocolate eggs over the weekend?  A bit more ham than you planned on? Have a refrigerator full of boiled eggs? (Scroll to bottom for a scrumptious idea on that.)

Continue reading “Grilled Veggie Tacos with Salsa-Ranch Dressing”

Sesame-Shrimp Noodles with Fresh Vegetable Toppings or Lilacs in the Rain

Sesame-Shrimp Noodles with Fresh Vegetable Toppings or Lilacs in the Rain

A cool and rainy spring in Saint Paul keeps me cooking indoors.  Typically I’d be raking together a salad while Dave grilled chicken or salmon.  Instead, just back from our happy daughter Emily’s graduation from seminary at Princeton, I’m slaving over a hot stove.  Well,  not really.

Here is Emily with her proud parents.  We sang in the choir! Go, Emily!

I will say that once I decided to make and blog some Asian noodles, they were everywhere I looked online.  Like this version from FOOD AND WINE.   I ignored all that and forged ahead.  Hmph; great minds think alike, etc.

If you’re looking for something luscious, filling, and healthy for dinner with plenty leftover for a cold lunch or tomorrow’s dinner, this is your meal.   The short story is that you cook up some noodles with snow peas, asparagus, and shrimp.  You stir in all kinds of things to make it taste good, and let your family or guests choose their toppings — a variety of chopped vegetables, sesame seeds, lime and nuts– at the table.

OR:  Add just the vegetables and “sauce” ingredients (skip the shrimp), along with the peanut topping, and you have a great side for meats you might be grilling for Memorial Day.  I picture this with  salmon, pork chops, or chicken, perhaps those that have been lolling around in an Asian marinade before grilling.

Try this photo recipe:  (Ingredients are in bold type.)

 
sesame-shrimp noodles with fresh vegetable toppings

4 servings
8 Weight Watcher’s Plus Points per serving

Place 2 tablespoons sesame seeds in a small skillet over low heat and toast, stirring occasionally, for several minutes until light brown.  Remove from heat; pour into a small bowl and place on table.  Chop 1/4 cup plain peanuts, scoop into another small bowl, and place on table.

Pour 2 tablespoons canola oil into the skillet over low heat and add 1 tablespoon each minced ginger and garlic.  Cook a minute or two or just until garlic begins to color.  Remove from heat and set aside.

Bring 5-6 quarts of salted and peppered water to boil for the pasta.  While it heats, chop 1/2 cup each bok choy, fresh cilantro, scallions (green onions), and cucumber.  Chop all of one red bell pepper.  Cut a lime into wedges.   Place the vegetables and the lime wedges side by side in a large bowl or in separate small bowls and put them on the table by the sesame seeds and peanuts.

 
To the by now boiling water, add one pound whole wheat linguine (I like Whole Foods 365 brand best) and cook for about 7 minutes.   Stir in 3/4 pound (12 ounces) fresh peeled and deveined shrimp, a cup each of stringed+ fresh snow peas and chopped fresh asparagus and cook for 2-3 minutes until shrimp is firm and pink and noodles are nearly tender.

 
  Drain pasta, shrimp, asparagus and peas.  Pour back into the pot and, while hot, stir in garlic-ginger oil,  a generous pinch of crushed red pepper, 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and fresh ground pepper, 1/4 cup  soy sauce and 1  tablespoon + 1 teaspoon sesame oil, 1 teaspoon of Sriracha,  and the juice of one lime.   Taste and adjust seasonings, adding more Sriracha, soy sauce, sesame oil, or lime, if needed. Serve warm, at room temperature, or cold in shallow pasta bowls; pass fresh vegetables, extra lime slices, soy sauce, and chopped peanuts so that guests can add what they’d like at the table.

Cook’s Notes: 

+Destringing snow peas  If you don’t destring your snow peas, you’ll be flossing (without meaning to) during dinner. 

If you have a vegan or vegetarian in your group, cook the shrimp separately and place it in a separate bowl on the table.  You could add sauteed tofu, if desired, or 2 -3 tablespoons peanut butter to the soy sauce mixture.

If you have leftover cooked chicken, you can add sliced chicken with the garlic-ginger oil instead of cooking shrimp with the noodles.

Vegetables are very interchangeable; please add what you have or you like.  For instance, julienned carrots could be used instead of asparagus or sliced celery in place of the snow peas.  

My lilac are in bloom–finally.  But it’s too cold and rainy to go enjoy them.  Hopefully tomorrow!

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

Trading Granola for Eggs – My Urban Barter Tale

I was on the road a couple of weeks ago and checking my computer when my I-Spy Radar saw an email with a subject line that had something to do with too many fresh eggs and trading cookies for them.  I try and stay off email a lot when I’m away seeing my kids or on vacation, but I couldn’t NOT look at this one.  Backyard eggs just hook me right in.  And, of course, cookies fall right out of my oven.

My siblings and I grew up with fresh eggs; my dad either traded produce for them or shelled out a little cash to his Swedish farmer friend Munson.  When our  parents retired and took it (ha!) easy on a little “hobby” farm,  they had their own chickens and, hence, their own eggs, to say nothing of a garden that produced tomatoes the likes of which I’ve never again tasted.  When Dave and I visited as newlyweds, we had fresh eggs (fried in bacon or sausage grease) every morning early.  Why would you want anything else?  And why not at 6am?  There, of course, were also biscuits.  With sour cream and honey or molasses.  Unending pots of coffee.

To say that  mass-produced eggs pale in comparison is an apt description.  Don’t you love the looks of this egg produced by one of Cathy’s ladies?

(Read my post about this salsa here.)

So, anyway,  I missed great eggs for years.  I really missed them because I just love eggs.  I go through phrases where sure that the SB diet will take off my well-fed excess, I eat them daily.  Then I begin to worry about the cholesterol and switch back to egg whites.  Whichever, I always eat vegetables for breakfast, too.  (Alternately, I’ll eat yogurt and fresh fruit for weeks on end–with my homemade low-fat granola.)  But back to the email:  as soon as I could arrange it,  I was ready to start trading whatever I had for those eggs

In St. Paul, you can now raise chickens in your own back yard.  Right in the city.  Now I don’t have much space, and I’m only fond of eggs, not chickens, so I’m not putting up a coop back there in place of my postage stamp patio.  But I’m happy to oblige my friend Cathy and her family, who are the ones suffering from the overage.  Her “ladies” live in the yard, eat well, exercise daily, and are nearly pets who produce things like this:

 Here’s a closer up pic so maybe you can see the beautiful colors.  The whites are nearly blue:

One week, I traded some oatmeal chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies:

This week I made granola for Dave, so just made a bigger batch and traded that.

It’s lovely with milk, better with plain Greek yogurt and a drizzle of honey, and best with homemade ricotta and fresh fruit. Naturally, you can scoop up a little and eat it out of hand.  (I do recommend leaving a scoop or spoon in the jar as you’re keeping this granola awhile.)  Your choice.   Whatever you do, I hope you find someone with whom to trade it so that you can eat eggs like I’m eating!  Thanks, ladies.

alyce’s low-fat granola with apricots, currants, and cherries
based on David Lebovitz’  recipe, which he says was based on Nigella Lawson’s!

  • 5 cups old-fashioned oats
  • 2t cinnamon
  • 2t ginger
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cloves, optional
  • 1t kosher salt
  • 1 1/2 cups each: chopped walnuts and almonds
  • 1/2 cup each: pistachios, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, and plain sesame seeds
  • 1/2 cup each: chopped dried apricots, cherries, and currants or raisins
  • 1/3 cup each: real maple syrup and honey  (can use all honey)
  • 3/4 c applesauce 
  • 2T olive oil

Pre-heat oven to 300 degrees F.

Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl or soup pot.  (oats through seeds)  Meantime, heat liquid ingredients over low heat, stirring, in a small sauce pan until just warm and well-combined. (syrup, honey, applesauce, and oil).  Pour liquid ingredients over dry and mix well for a few minutes.  Pour onto two or three large, rimmed baking sheets and bake 50-60 minutes until dry, golden, and crispy, stirring 3-4 times during the baking time.  Store in a tightly-sealed container for up to a month.  (This granola will not keep well in a plastic bag.)

Cook’s Notes:

1.  I thought I’d share the differences between my granola and David Lebovitz’–his included 3/4 cup brown sugar (I skipped that) and had no fruit at all (I like fruit).  I also added ground cloves, which are optional.  But I definitely borrowed the idea of applesauce in place of the large amount oil usually used in granola and part of the reason it’s so caloric.  This is very low fat, crispy, tasty, and…  well, you’ll like it.

If you’ve never visited the magical David Lebovitz blog,  please do yourself a favor and make the trip today.  David is an American pastry chef living in Paris who always has a great story to tell—  The food’s lovely, too, but it’s the stories that bring me back again and again.  FYI–David also does things like Paris Chocolate Tours if you ever get to the City of Light.  If you want more info, check the blog or ask David yourself in the comment section of his blog.

2.  Changing it up:  The number of additions (and the size of their amounts), to the oats is rather flexible., as are the spices.   If you only have a few nuts and some raisins, for instance, you can still make this granola.  Or if you have only apricots and almonds…you can still make this granola.  Only have cinnamon?  Use 3 teaspoon cinnamon then.  See?   Do keep the main ingredients and proportions intact:  oats, honey, maple syrup, applesauce, and oil.

two-dog kitchen and a bit of travel

Mother Gabriela

Our lilacs through the piano window.  Two views–above and below.

Above: Tasting Sean’s brews in Colorado.  Our son’s on his way to becoming a master brewer.  Woo hoo!

Above:  In Princeton–a facade saved, ready for its new building to be built behind.  Meantime, you can see the sky!

My Easter cake…will blog soon.  Great for spring!

Dogwood blossom in Princeton

 With Dave and Emily eating lunch in the sunshine in the West Village

                                                  At The Spotted Pig in NYC,  April Bloomfield’s restaurant.
                                                        Couldn’t get in.  🙁

Dappled light –West Village/NYC (above)

Gorgeous window boxes in downtown Princeton (above)

Princeton spring–Dogwoods (above)

“Yes, we did,”  said Gab and Tuck

Sing a new song,
Alyce

Timpano II and Other Journeys There and Back Home

Timpano II and Other Journeys There and Back Home

I have some really good friends in Colorado. That puts it lightly.  We never need a reason to get together, but…

Last year, we had a party we called “The Big Night” after the movie “The Big Night”  starring Stanley Tucci, Tony Shaloub, Isabella Rosselini, Marc Anthony, Minnie Driver, et al.  In this cult film-lover’s movie, two Italian brothers try to save their New World restaurant (and their lives) by throwing a huge party to which Louis Prima is supposedly invited.  I won’t spoil the story, but while Prima is the no-show star, a dish called “Timpano” (Italian for timpani) does make an appearance and steals the dinner scene. (See my post on our first Big Night, October 29, 2010.)

The Timpano (Italian for timpani) is a monumentally-large dish that feeds 20+.  Baked in a washtub, it features a sort of pizza crust filled with a multitude of layers that can include pasta, sauce, meatballs, Italian Sausage, Proscuitto, salami, Pecorino Romano, boiled eggs, beaten raw eggs, and so on.  Allowed to cool for nearly an hour after a long bake, the drum is then turned over and carved carefully, served with a great salad and lots of Chianti.

Doing this thing ourselves–having a party and making the timpano “just like in the movie”– was next-door neighbor Sara’s idea, I think, but it took a long time to make it happen.  For a while, we searched stores and Good Wills for a big, huge washtub pan…I promised to order one and didn’t.  We found dates and canceled them.  Went on vacations and forgot about the whole deal.  In fact, there were a lot of places our own first Big Night almost didn’t happen.  Except Sara kept envisioning it and never let us give up the dream.  She gave up on me briefly, however, and ordered the pan herself.  She planned the night in 2010, and while I did finally search out the recipe, Sara was the mastermind behind the entire enterprise. (Here’s the website with the newest crust.) In the end, we made it together, we did, Mary Pat, Sara and I.  Invited the ‘hood and various friends and ate most of the night, watching the movie for the rest.  We then talked about it the rest of the year.  And…

The night was so wonderful that we made a pact to do it again and set the date for October 29, 2011.  Despite moving to St. Paul, we made it back to Colorado Springs just in time for what turned out to be an even better and improved (delicious, in fact) timpano.  Here’s a photo album from


THE BIG NIGHT 2011

First things first.  Wash the wine glasses, said Chef Sara.

Megan:  Timpano Dog Extraordinaire

 

Chopping, chopping–Mary Pat
This new dough chilled for only an hour before rolling out.

Sara’s Sauce–Yum.

Dough-We took turns rolling this mother.

 

In pan with only a few places to patch.

 

First: Sauced Pasta topped with salami and eggs.

Thatsa meatball!  (And pepperoni)

Layer, layer, sauce.  More sauce is MP’s idea this year and it’s tastier.
Get it all in there.  Waste not.

A bit of crust piecing that worked.  Years of pie baking paying off.
In the oven.  Time for a glass of wine.

TA-DA!

Just out of the oven and resting for 30 minutes.

  

Turned over, pan removed and another 20 minutes rest.

A slice for you.

Inside the Timpano

Another slice for your friend

Waiting for its closeup

Sharing it all:

How shall we carve this?
We follow Dave’s plan and it’s a good thing.  As Alyce has always known.

 

Slideshow of last year’s Big Night

Ipad has more pics

Let’s get started.

 Two-Dog Kitchen (Three this week) or Around the ‘Hood


More on the week’s travels:

 

Back in Princeton and loving it.  Got a great version of Ps 147 for worship.

Dave and Emi up ahead

Looking back at the well-worn steps on the way towards chapel.

Talking with her hands–our Emi

On to Colorado….  Gotta Love It

Grandpa and Rhyan out for pizza again in Colorado!

Back home:  work on our kitchen while we’re away.

Back in St. Paul puppy sitting.

 

Newman..It’s a 3-Dog Kitchen, but in a borrowed house!

Writing recipes on ipad now. A new world.

Read the DinnerPlace post on Chicken-Pumpkin Chili?  Yummy and easy for fall.

Listening to Cantus, “There is a Meeting Here Tonight”  Want to feel good? Watch and listen.

Reading THE PASTOR by Eugene Peterson.  A great read.  Also listening to the choir’s cantata on nearly a loop.  Come hear our performance of “Canticle of Joy” by Joseph and Patricia Martin, on Sunday, December 11 at 9:30 am during worship.  Love to have you.

Do it all with joy and sing a new song,
Alyce

Emily’s Takeover

Emily’s Takeover

Today I decided to takeover not only my mother’s blog but her kitchen as well. I’m on vacation from seminary (follow my blog!) and decided to make a delicious dinner for my parents. I live in a dorm and eat in a cafeteria, so I don’t get a chance to do real cooking very often. I’m not a great cook, but I can follow directions pretty well. Today I wanted to stretch my culinary skills. We invited over some friends, and we watched the snow continue to fly. For some reason I gravitated to French foods or at least foods that sound kind of French. I had no idea if everything would go well together, but I didn’t know when the next chance for me to cook would be. It helps that I’m at home in safe place. In case something went wrong I could pull out the big guns (crying) and Mom would jump in and fix it. That didn’t happen although I had lots of questions.
Menu:
Hummus and Fresh Vegetables
Tuna Croquettes with Sauce Remoulade
French Onion Soup
Alyce’ Sweet Balsamic Salad
Creme Brulee
Starters: I bought hummus (garlic) at the store and arranged on a cute plate these things:
celery, asparagus, English cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, baby carrots
Dish #1 : Tuna Croquettes –I’m not sure what I expected here, but they were a little like incredibly good crab cakes. Except! I didn’t have to pay for crab. I used tuna in pouches.

Recipe by Alton Brown
I had seen this recipe on Alton Brown’s show Good Eats. It sounded good. It turned out good. Because the panko is lighter than normal breadcrums, each little ball of tuna-ie delight was crispy but not heavy. I can’t see these croquettes as a full meal, but it was a satisfying appetizer. Even though the recepe online shows the croquettes with some sort of thick sauce, there was no recipe! Mom whipped up a sauce made of mayonaise, shallots, dill pickles and dijon mustard. She called it a Revved Up Tartar Sauce which then we realized was close to a sauce remoulade.
Dish # 2: French Onion Soup—This one doesn’t bake, nor does it have a ton of heavy cheese- just parmesan when you serve it. Oooo la la ! The house smells like heaven.


Carmelizing the onions above. Ina says 20 min; it took 45.

The soup cooking.. AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH———-


Here (above) are the parmesan croutons for the soup. Good all by themselves, too.

Recipe by the Barefoot Contessa (also found in the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook from 1999)

I have never made soup before except by heating up the insides of a can. So when the idea went off in my head to make French onion soup, I was confused. “Don’t you know I don’t cook?” I told myself, but I just wouldn’t listen to me. So I found what looked like one of the easier French onion soups in the world. The hardest part was slicing the onions. I had no idea how to slice an onion properly, but I found out that once you cook them it doesn’t really matter if you sliced them ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. It’s important to get all the onions about the same size if you can. It did take twice as long for the onions to brown than the Barefoot Contessa told me, but I assume that’s because I’m in Colorado and the altitude makes cooking weird sometimes. I used a sweet sherry that made a big difference in the final product. The house still smells wonderful from the onions and butter that were the base of the soup. I finished the soup about an hour and a half early and just left it on the stove until our friends showed up and we were eating the first course. It warmed up very quickly and was delicious.

Mom made a quick salad to go with the soup so that we would have something green. It was kind of like this:
Dish 3a. Alyce’s Sweet Balsamic Salad
.
10 cups mixed greens (she used baby arugula and baby spinach
1/3 c chopped walnuts
1/2 c cherry tomatoes
Juice of half a lemon
Pinch ea: kosher salt and fresh ground pepper
2T Balsamic Vinegar
1T honey
4-5 T extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 tsp kosher salt

1/8 tsp fresh ground pepper
.
I think she made the dressing in the bottom of the bowl first. She whisked together the vinegar, honey and salt and pepper. Then she drizzled in the oil until it was all mixed pretty well.
Greens, walnuts and tomatoes went on top in a large bowl, which was refrigerated until we needed to eat it. Then Dad tossed it and served it on salad plates.

Dish #4: Creme Brulee See top and bottom photos, too!
Recipe from The Gourmet Cookbook edited by Ruth Reichl (2004)

Here-above- I am doing something Mom says is “tempering the eggs.” Otherwise, the hot cream will scramble the eggs and we don’t exactly want breakfast tonight.


SO GOOD! One neighbor raved, “This is the best creme brulee I’ve ever had!” I usually bake a type of cake for a dessert, but I really wanted to try something different. I think Creme Brulee is super fancy and grown up. Turns out it’s not that hard to make if you’ve got a torch handy. Mom said the key to a good creme brulee is good heavy cream and high quality vanilla. As a Masters student I understand that it makes sense to buy the cheap vanilla, but after eating this creme brulee I will NEVER buy cheap vanilla again. The creme was creamy and smooth. The brulee (expertly burned by my father) was crackling and crisp. If you want people to think you can make incredible desserts but you don’t know if you really can, this recipe is for you! It does take some specialized equipment (ramikins, torch), but invest in that equipment and it will pay off.
(Mom says you can use plain old Pyrex custard cups and put the creme brulee under the broiler; you can do without the special stuff but it’s so fun to torch something, says Dad.
The best part about cooking for people is that you get to spend time them and show them you care. I hope you enjoy these recipes and take over YOUR mother’s kitchen some time.
Check out the rest of the creme brulee pictures below…………………..
.
God Bless,
Emily
power tools


Mom’s note: Wow! I love having anyone cook like that for me. AND the creme brulee was, there’s no other word: silky. Thanks, Emi. Come home anytime.