Thursday, July 30, 2009

Its the carrot harvest


Today I took the kids down to my mom's house to harvest the carrots. They loved being farmers for the afternoon. We will all be orange by the time we eat all these carrots. Don't mean to toot my own horn or anything (please, I love to toot my own horn), but I created a masterpiece with these carrots for dinner tonight. A savory, creamy carrot bisque.


The color of the soup might bum you out, but it is the best darn carrot soup you will ever taste. The secret to the soup is some leftover sunday dinner gravy from a beef roast.

Ingredient List

1 small onion chopped
1 potato chopped
5 cups of carrots chopped
1 garlic clove minced
1 1/2 c beef gravy or beef stock
3 c water
2 bay leaves
salt and pepper

1-2 cups heavy cream

Saute onions, carrot and garlic, liberally season with salt and pepper. Add potatoes. Add gravy. Add water. Add bay leaves. Simmer until potatoes and carrots are very tender. Blend in a blender until smooth, but before you do, fish out the bay leaves. Do a seasoning taste test. If its too thick add some more gravy or water. Before serving add cream and swirl.
I served it with some homemade artisan bread and some fresh wild greens (from mom's garden) homegrown tomatoes (from farm stand) tossed with olive oil and balsamic and goat cheese. Real food people! Love it!
Now you could probably use beef stock, but it doesn't have my name on it anymore! It may not be as good. That is how the Chef from Chef's table gets away with giving out all his soup recipes, because the recipe calls for chicken stock, we all use Swansons, and he's using the yummy stuff he makes from scratch. It makes a big difference.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

What to do with all that bacon grease

So now that I am on a "real food" kick, I am happy to announce that bacon is a real food, and so is a potato, so lets put them together shall we? So we had bacon and eggs for breakfast. Now a good housewife would know you never pour bacon grease down the sink, because it will clog up your pipes eventually. So I usually let it solidify and spoon it into the garbage. Today however, I used it to roast my potatoes. You would think that rendered bacon fat would taste strongly of bacon, If you have ever put your finger in bacon fat, it really doesn't. It mostly just tastes like fat, with a mild hint of bacon.
I think we all connote bacon fat as the ultimate artery clogging substance. However, did you know they have never actually proven that saturated fat causes heart disease? Frankly, bacon fat is a "real food" where as vegetable oil is merely a food like substance and is high in omega- 6's which counteract the health benefits of omega 3's.
So don't feel guilty by these roasted potatoes in rendered bacon fat, because they are darn tasty.

Cut up any potato you like in big chunks (I used russets, but would have been thrilled to use yukon gold if I had them). Boil them in salt water until tender. Properly drain them (I spun them in the salad spinner so they were nice and dry). Preheat your oven to 450 degrees, positioning your rack on the top third of your oven. Spoon your bacon fat (as little or as much as you like) on a cookie sheet and add the potato. Season liberally with kosher salt and fresh ground pepper. Toss to coat. Roast for 20 minutes, tossing half way through until they are crispy and unbelievably irresistible. I couldn't stop eating them!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

A little summer reading

I only read a book once a year. I read a book on vacation when my children are completely distracted away from me. While perusing the bookstore I came across the New York Times best seller, “In Defense of Food” by Michael Pollan, which of course I picked up because I am all about defending food. Examining it closer, I realized I couldn’t possibly read it because I hate being told what to eat. I hate the guilt such literature ensues. After all, I am a raging sugarholic and have enabled three more abusers (my children), and I hate the phrase “health food”. After looking at a book about midwives (no more babies please) and the history about the Nation’s capital ( I thought it meant “capital” like assets, but it was the actual building, holy boring). I was lured back into “In Defense of Food”. Yes, I felt incredibly guilty after reading it. However, I really got some things out of it.

The premise of the book is that for the last 30 years our nation has been listening to the advice of nutritionists, instead of our mothers and grandmothers and it has only made us obese and unhealthy. The bombardment of the food industry creating “food like” products and claiming them as “healthy” is hurting us, and we need to get back to eating food. The author gives the example of butter, which is an ancient food. Well all the sudden butter was bad, and margarine was healthy because the experts said so. Turns out that the famous trans-fat margarine was breeding the heart disease.

The tag line of the book is, “Eat food, not too much, mostly plants”. Pretty good motto! Lucky for me, I didn’t feel too guilty because I cook mostly food. Aside from refined flours, and sugars, I use food my recipes, but I would like to fill my pantry with more food, and less food like substance. I believe in whole food. I crave whole food. Wholesome food takes time, but I got time. What is more important teaching my kids good eating habits and setting them up for a healthy life, or having my house clean for when the visiting teachers come over? (they laugh because my house has never been clean when they come over, and I am always in my robe). I have a new focus, not health food (gross), not low fat food (evil), not no-way-my-kids-would-ever-eat-that-are-you-crazy-food, but stuff your grandmother made from scratch food using whole ingredients. I have told my kids that I am no longer buying candy, chips, sugar cereal, egos, gogurts, and any other packaged foods (my 4 year old son Everett is preparing his emancipation papers). I going to make more bread, and more delicious whole food treats from scratch to fill our family belly.

Don’t get me wrong folks, I’m not going granola on ya’. Even though I’m not buying diet coke anymore, I’m still hittin’ sonic for a route 44 when I can. I’m not going to put nuts and dried apricots in the piƱata at my kid’s birthday. I’m just going to try to let the whole foods push the food like substances off the plate a little.

Join me won’t you?

Sunday, July 19, 2009

all you get is this crazy eyed picture

Last night I cooked for over 60 people. If I would have had my camera, I could blog about homemade rolls, 6 varieties of cupcakes, homemade ice cream, shrimp macaroni salad, slow roasted pulled pork, homemade rootbeer . . . I forgot my camera, and blogging without a photo doesn't do the food any justice. So all you get this crazy eyed web cam photo. Sorry.

I am officially on vacation. The kind of vacation where I will need a vacation when it is over. Luckily, I pre-cooked everything! I'll blog about it sometime . . .I hope I remembered camera!

peace out

Pasta Salad

This is the best snack to have sitting in the fridge to just pull out and have some bites right out of the bowl. It tastes better as it sits.  Pasta salad is "waymo" (definition: way mormon, or extremely typical of Utah Mormon behavior) I have been to countless enrichment nights where it is pasta salad mania. Now this pasta salad is nothing special, no candied walnuts, no cranberries, no guinevere cheese, just pasta and vegetables. 

Ingredient List
Bag of tri colored rotini pasta
dry pkg of Good Seasons Zesty Italian
1/3 c extra virgin olive oil
1/3 c balsamic vinegar

handfuls of the following fine diced vegetables
green bell pepper
red bell pepper (yellow too if you want)
peeled cucumber
red onion (very optional)

Handful of shredded parmesan cheese

Cook the pasta and rinse it in cold water. Combine the oil and vinegar and seasoning packet. Combine everything together and stir well. Allow to cook before serving.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Too much fun

Don't get me wrong folks, I have been cooking up a storm, but we have been playing too much to be blogging. Fairb has been home for awhile and we have been camping, hiking, biking, swimming, and partying. As a result the blog has been severely neglected. However, I have discovered a great recipe for a lemon dessert that I really need to share. This dessert is a winner. I got it off  another blog, She called it a lemon pudding cake, but I am respectfully changing it to a LEMON CUSTARD CAKE, because pudding makes me thing of JELL-O and custard makes me thing of ooh la la! It is a custard after all. Besides topping it with some fresh whipped cream, I followed her recipe to the letter. To find the most amazing lemon custard cake recipe, click here. I have made this recipe twice already. The second time I bake individual cakes in ramekins which made the presentation nicer. This cake is going to the repertoire. 

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Shish Kababs with out the Kababs

For Bunko night I made these Shish Kabobs but I didn't use the skewers. I love the presentation of the food on the skewers, but they some how make me uneasy. I don't know if I feel like things are getting cross contaminated, or meat and vegetables can't cook together in harmony. Either the meat with be over cooked the the veggies will be raw. Plus it is very time consuming to skewer all the food! So I used some grill baskets like this one;I cooked the chicken, the beef and the vegetables in different baskets, and it worked out perfect!  I marinated both the beef and the chicken.

Now everyone was so impressed by the tenderness of the meat, I would like to tell them it was the fantastic marinade, but it was tender because it was a tender cut of meat, that is why they call it the "tenderloin" or the fillet mignon. However, it was because of the marinade it had a fantastic flavor!

 Beef Marinade
1/3 c soy sauce
1/4 c rice vinegar
3 T sesame oil
2 T sugar
4 garlic cloves smashed (not minced)
1 small onion quartered

Combine all the ingredient and add the meat. Marinade in the fridge for a couple hours. Now you don't want to fine chop the onions or the garlic because you only want to give the meat the essence of those things, if they stick to meat when they hit the grill, the garlic and onions would burn.

Chicken Marinade
1/4 c ketchup
1/2 c pineapple juice
1/4 c vinegar
3 T oil
1/4 c soy sauce
2 T sugar

As for the veggies, I used onions, mushrooms, zucchini, red bell pepper, green bell pepper, grape tomatoes, and of course tons and tons of pineapple! After cutting it all up I coated it will olive oil and salt and pepper. I cooked the veggies first. 
You just place the basket on the grill, and give the food a toss now and again until its done! 
It was a hit! However, I didn't get a bunko, and I didn't even win a prize. I never do!

Tuesday, July 7, 2009


PhotobucketGyoza is one of those yummy Japanese foods that got me nice and chunky I love gyoza. Now I can make it.

Ingredient List:
1 lb ground pork
1 cup of cooked cabbage (shred some cabbage and boil it for a few minutes with a little salt)
2 green onions fine diced
1 T minced ginger
1-2 garlic cloves minced
2 T soy sauce
1 egg

Round won ton wrappers (they sell the round ones at Smith's)

Combine the above ingredients (excluding the won ton wrappers of course) using your clean hands to mix together well.   Once combined, lay the won tons wrappers (about 6 at a time) on the counter and place about 1 T filling in the middle of each wrapper. Brush the edges with water and pinch together the edges in the prettiest way you know how. 
Once all the wrappers a filled, heat 2 T vegetable oil in your biggest saute pan with a lid. Place the gyoza in the pan with the edges pointing to the sky. You will have to sort of push down on the gyoza to make a flat edge so they will sit up straight. 
Once the bottoms of the gyoza are browned, add a glass full of water in the pan. The water should go about half way up the gyoza. Turn to med-low and let simmer until most of the water cooks off.

Now you can buy gyoza dipping sauce at some stores, but it is just as easy to make it.

Gyoza Dipping Sauce:

1/4 c soy sauce
2 T rice vinegar
2 T hot sesame oil


Sunday, July 5, 2009

God Bless the 4th of July!

The 4th of July is easily my favorite holiday. I have loved it since I was little. This year we mixed it up a little and started a whole new batch of traditions. After a lifetime of going to the Provo Freedom Festival Grand Parade we decided to bag it.  The arduous task of saving a spot was painful. Someone had to argue all night with college kids on roadside space, only to be too tired to enjoy it the next day. Although me and my siblings loved the parade, our children sat there asking for snow cones every 10 seconds, only to ask to go home halfway through.   I was uneasy with giving up the parade because it was such a steadfast tradition in the family, and I felt it was a real patriotic gesture, so this year we decided to decorate our own float and enter the children's parade. It was a raging success, the children and adults loved decorating it,and they even gave us a trophy (they weren't giving out rankings, so we went ahead and gave ourselves 1st place. We're number one! we're number one!) 

So now that the patriotic gesture was out of the way a week early, all that was left was to party and eat!
The night before the 4th the whole crew came up to my parents house for a camp out in the back yard. We ate my sheesh kabob minus the kabob (which I will post in the coming week) with egg rice Watermelon and corn on the cob of course!
During the camp out we had a talent competition and story telling contest to which the children were very eager to participate in. It was quite a variety show, from a six year old singing "America the Beautiful"  A Capella to a 10 year old lip syncing to Weird Al Yankovich. It was great.
I also cooked for the BBQ lunch the next day which was pulled pork and a bunch of great side dishes (pasta salad, coleslaw, fruit, corn, rolls). That is when I debuted my crowning achievement, the Star Spangled Cake! Feel free to count the stripes, no need to count the stars please. I gave been looking at star spangled cake recipes for a while, but I decided long ago, I am a cake mix girl, so here is what I did.
I mixed 3 cake boxes according to direction but added lemon zest and substituted 1/4 c lemon juice for some of the water.
 I covered 2 cookie sheets (jelly roll) with parchment that I greased in shortening and floured. That way I was positive I could get the cakes out of the pan (it worked perfectly).
I split the batter between the 2 sheets and baked them at 20-25 minutes till they were done.
Meanwhile, I made lemon curd I doubled this recipe, but didn't need it all for the cake.
Lemon curd filling (Paula deans recipe)

3 large lemons, zested and juiced

1 c sugar

1/2 butter melted

4 eggs

Using a food processor, pulse together sugar and zest. Add lemon juice and eggs and blend. Then add melted butter slowly pulsing as you go. Then thicken on the stove over simmering water. (put in a bowl that can sit over a pot of simmering water) Stir often till thicken. Paula's recipe says 5 minutes, but it took me much longer.

Once the cakes and lemon curd were completely cooled, it was time to assemble.  First, you need to wash your berries, and give them time to dry. Also you need to sweeten and whip about 5 cups of cream really stiff. 

Time to assemble:  Liberally add the lemon curd to the top of the first layer (put your first layer on your serving tray) and carefully top it with the second cake. Liberally frost the whole cake with the whipped cream, reserving some cream for piping.

I put on 49 blueberries, spacing them evenly to make a square in the left corner. Next make seven rows of raspberries evenly spacing them down the cake. Put the remaining cream in a bag with a star cake decorating tip and pipe the cream between the red stripes and the blueberries and on the bottom edge of the cake. I gotta say, it was pretty dang fun, and everyone was extremely impressed, but only because I kept fishing for compliments, "have you seen my cake yet?" I made the cake the day before and kept it in the fridge.

Now if you were to use strawberries, from my experience, once you cut strawberries the longer they sit out, they bleed and get soggy. So you can't use strawberries unless you put them on the cake just before serving.

Even with all the food in my belly we managed to go to another BBQ and do some fireworks, it was an amazing holiday, and after cooking for 2 days straight and doing about 8 loads of dishes, I am pooped!

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chicken and raisin rice

This is one of those dishes I absolutely hated as a kid. Onions and raisins, could it get any more disgusting for a child? Well I am proud to say that now my children hate this dish. But I absolutely love it. This is Persian inspired. I don't think we should get involved in Iran's election, but I do think we should eat their food.

Ingredient List
Chicken pieces of any variety you like (whole chicken cut up, thighs, breasts, no boneless skinless, if you do, don't tell me about it because it would break my heart).

2 c rice cooked according to instructions

1 onion chopped

1 clove garlic minced

2 handfuls of raisins

handful of pine nuts

1 heaping tablespoon of curry

2-3 T sugar

Salt and pepper

1 T Butter

1 T oil

Bake the chicken in the oven like this, I also added some curry to the flour before I coated the chicken. a couple spoonfuls. I used just thighs, because that is the tastiest part of the chicken!

About a half hour before your chicken is set to be done, start on the raisin rice.  Begin sauteing the onions and garlic in the butter and oil. Season with salt and pepper. As the onions begin to become translucent, add the sugar. Next add the raisins, pine nuts and curry. Let the onions caramelize. You may need to  add a couple tablespoons of water.  Once the raisins have puffed up and the onions are cooked down, add the rice to the pan and combine. Taste to make sure you are good on salt and pepper. Serve with the chicken.