cooking & baby

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Finding time to cook new and exciting meals is hard with a new little one. When we get home from work, the last thing I want to do is don an apron and work up a meal (even though I  LOVE to cook!). I would much rather spend my night snuggling and playing with Henry and reconnecting with David. If I could survive on air this would be perfect, but alas, mealtime is essential and therefore something must be done! Many new moms have suggested I cook for the whole week on Sunday night. And, while this may be the step we eventually take, I am not ready to give up my Sunday for all day kitchen time either. So on a whim we purchased William Sonoma’s One Pot of the Day Cookbook. Some recipes take hours to simmer and these delicious items will have to wait until the weekend but most of the meals can be whipped up in a matter of minutes (like 30-40).  For a new family this seems much more reasonable and with everything contained in one pot this also means no real clean-up time: win-win! If I could forgo working, I would cook up one of these meals a day for a year which is how the book is organized. But, for now, since employment is key, I will have to suffice on one or two new recipes from here a week. I think that will do.

David took the first meal from the book (page 261). It was a braised chicken with tomatoes and bacon, and it was quite good. And, the left over wine from braising was an excellent finish to the long day. Nicely done, David.

chopped salad

This past long weekend was refreshing. Something about having that extra day turns a regular weekend into a vacation! David and I enjoyed a mostly quiet time at home. We both took off Friday to take Henry to his pediatrician in order to discuss strategies around sleep and sleep routines. Our little man is consistently inconsistent which makes sleep a question mark in our house. Our meeting on Friday was not earth shattering in the information she presented but it did confirm some “best practices” we were beginning to implement. So we will have to give you an update on Henry’s sleep in the days and weeks to come. Fingers crossed this little man breaks through his sleep wall.

We spent a lot of time just being together as a family though and we even rekindled some of our favorite crafts and hobbies. I am currently working on a mustard yellow scarf for the winter and David in elbow deep in books about chess. When we weren’t playing with Henry, we were either crafting or cooking. It was a perfect way to spend these Fall days.  One of the recipes we tried for the first time was this chopped salad. It was  quick and easy and the prep time was practically non-existent. The flavors are super subtle but it was a light meal option for us on a day when we whipped up a significant brunch and crock pot beef stew for dinner!

 

Ingredients:

Roast chicken (we bought a rotisserie chicken from the grocery store)

5 strips of cooked bacon

1 head of romaine lettuce

1 tablespoon ground mustard

2 tablespoons creme fraiche

1/4 cup chopped walnuts

1/4 cup chopped artichoke hearts

1/4 cup chopped sun-dried tomatoes

1/2 cup of crumbled blue cheese

Toss everything together and enjoy! (especially if your husband dons a sexy apron  while mixing this up =)

sausage, cauliflower, and kale “pot pie”

I left home this morning at 6:30AM and will sadly not return until 9:30PM. This extra long day of work loomed before me and has created an intense amount of stress for me: How would Henry do without me for all of this time? Will he have enough to eat at home? Will he have an effective sleep routine? Will my parents, who are home today, be all right? Will they have enough to eat? Will they need a break from caring for the baby? Will they be able to take care of the dogs? Will the dogs be all right?  Will the dogs go bananas without us for all those hours?

These are just a tiny fraction of the questions, hesitations, and concerns I have about today’s incredibly long day away from home. Every year we prepare and stay at school for Back to School Night. Every other year, this has been one of my favorite evenings. I stay after school and have dinner with friends and then get to meet the parents of my students in a casual setting as they mill about the building.  Tonight though is different. Now with Henry home I am a bundle of nerves and feeling very fragile about this long stay away. When I take a moment to really think about him home without me all day I feel like crying and  when I come home the little man will be asleep.  It hurts my heart to know I will have missed his whole day. But, alas it is the nature of the beast that is today.

Since I couldn’t physically be there with the little man and my parents today, I decided I could at least cook them a nutritious, belly-warming meal. Through dinner, I would be able to “be there for them.” And, in this case what is more comforting than a warm plate of pot pie? I hope that in lieu of my presence this meal will keep them “sustained” and will give me a small bit of peace of mind heading into my long night on campus. And really, it is just one night, right?

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound sweet Italian sausage links, casings removed and meat broken into 3/4-inch pieces
2 medium onions, chopped
1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary
1/3 cup garbanzo flour (a nice protein)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
1 bunch kale, torn into bite-size pieces (about 10 cups)
2 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 small head cauliflower, cut into florets
2 sheets puff pastry
Heat the oven to 400. In a large pot, cook the sausage with the tablespoon of olive oil. Remove sausage and place in glass casserole dish. Add the onions, cauliflower, rosemary to the pot and saute for 5-7 minutes. Add the flour and mix in, add the broth  and vinegar and cook simmering/boiling for 5-7 minutes until it thickens. Toss in the kale and let it wilt. Add this mixture to the casserole dish and mix everything together. Top the mixture with the puff pastry. I just rolled it out into one sheet and layered it on top. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until the pastry is light and fluffy looking and the mixture is bubbling. Enjoy!

 

banh mi

That food truck festival left me craving banh mi sandwiches. Seriously, it is crazy how yummy that sandwich was. I can still taste it if I close my eyes, mmmmm. Anyway, instead of pining for it, I decided to try to recreate it. And of course with this goal in mind, Blue Apron has the same recipe as one of their meal selections. While I don’t subscribe to the service right now, I headed out to the grocer to buy the ingredients and whip it up.  What ensued was hilarious.

Overall the recipe was super simple. Since it is a sandwich you sort of create an assembly line for the eaters-to-be. First, I prepared the cucumber and carrot salad then the mayo then the slaw then the toasted breads. Once each of these was lined up in their serving bowl on the kitchen counter, I turned my attention to the chicken. Now the issue with Blue Apron is that they send you spices in the perfect amount. While I can copy their recipes, when it comes to the proportion of spices I have to wing it. We love a good spicy meal so I was quite heavy handed with my “copied” spice blend. I covered each piece of chicken with the blend and started to cook it up in the pan. Suddenly, Henry was sneezing and sneezing in the living room, David started coughing, my mom started to sneeze and cough. Then it hit me and finally all four of the dogs started to sneeze!  WAY TOO MUCH PEPPER got into the air. We were all suffering from this effect, eyes watering,  and sneezing uncontrollably. I turned on the vent and opened a window but the sneezing continued. We were very skeptical at this point about eating the sandwiches but found that they were actually quite delicious, if a bit too spicy. Thirty minutes after the meal we were still sneezing and Henry continued to sneeze even through his bath!  Clearly, the next time I make this we will use about 10% of the spice I originally thought was necessary.  And yes, I do plan to make these again sneezing or no! Hopefully I can convince the rest of the family to trust me again.

Ingredients:

2 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts

2 Carrots

1 P Cucumber

¼ Head Red Cabbage

4 Tablespoons Rice Vinegar

3 Tablespoons Mayonnaise

2 Tablespoons Hoisin Sauce

2 Banh Mi Rolls (we used sub rolls)

2 Teaspoons Sesame Oil

1 Tablespoon Bánh Mí Spice Blend (Chinese 5-Spice, Galangal, Lemongrass Powder, Smoked Paprika & Cayenne Powder)

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Peel and cut the carrot into thin matchsticks and cut the cucumber into thin circles. Thinly slice the cabbage leaves . In a small bowl, combine the hoisin sauce and mayonnaise. Completely coat the chicken in the bánh mì spice blend (this is where I went a little too crazy!). In a small pot, combine half the rice vinegar, ½ cup of water and a big pinch of salt. Heat to boiling on high. In a large, heat-proof bowl, combine a dash of the sesame oil, the carrots and cucumber. Once the pickling mixture is boiling, remove from heat and pour over the carrots and cucumber. Cover and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the sliced cabbage, remaining sesame oil, half the hoisin-mayonnaise sauce and the remaining rice vinegar. Toss gently to mix and set aside. In a medium pan, add chicken and cook.   Slice the bánh mì rolls in half lengthwise. Place the sliced rolls on a small sheet pan (or directly on the oven racks). Toast 3 to 5 minutes, or until crispy on the outside and warmed through. Assemble sandwich to your particular liking and enjoy!!

parmesan basil chicken patties

Thankfully this meal was salvaged! Just when you think everything is going smoothly and you confidently saunter about the house feeling like the most amazing new mom, you are snapped back into the reality of messy motherhood when you have a sleep-deprived moment. There I was cooking up the chicken patties and thinking I could briefly multi-task only to turn back around to the chicken and see them filling the entire kitchen with smoke! I had completely forgotten to turn down the heat to medium and had left the chicken to burn on high long enough to trigger the smoke alarms. David ran downstairs with Henry and the dogs as I stood there paralyzed not knowing what to do (this is my response to a crisis, which is a terrible response!!). Thankfully David snapped me out of my “playing possum” state by shouting turn the stove off, open the window, and flap a towel by the smoke detector. We were a jumbled mess as we tried to fix the kitchen drama, calm down the dogs, and soothe the baby. Luckily within a few  minutes the alarms stopped and the smoke cleared enough for it to no longer be scary. When we looked into the pan we were surprised to see that the chicken was burned but not so badly that we couldn’t still enjoy it for dinner. Despite the mishap dinner was still delicious!

Ingredients:

2 diced cloves garlic

1 bunch basil

1 tomato

1 diced bunch green onions

1/2  edamame

3/4 cup barley

10 ounces ground chicken

1/4 cup Italian breadcrumbs

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Heat a small pot of salted water to boiling on high. Add the barley to the pot of boiling water and cook 16 to 18 minutes, or until tender. Drain thoroughly and return to the pot. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper to taste, and stir to combine. Set aside until it is time to plate the meal.  While the barley cooks, in another pot heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil over medium heat. Add the diced garlic and the green onions and saute for 2-3 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Add the diced tomato, basil, edamame, and 1/4 cup of water. Bring mixture to a boil, once boiling cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer until the barley is done about 12-15 minutes. In a bowl, combine the ground chicken, basil, breadcrumbs, and Parmesan cheese.  Create 4 patties and cook up in pan with two tablespoons of olive oil. Loosely cover the pan with tin foil and cook on MEDIUM (not high like we did!) for 4-6 minute per side. Once all elements  are prepared plate and enjoy!

skirt steak with long beans

It is amazing what you can do when sleep deprived. The last two nights Mr. Henry has decided to host an all-night dance party. The problem is mom and dad were not really feeling it. Unfortunately for all of us, Henry gets to dictate the evening schedule right now and so we were up, up, UP all night with the little fellow. Yes, he did sleep a little but it wasn’t for long and by the time we fell back to sleep ourselves, he was rising out of his shallow slumber. Despite the last 48 hours of no sleep, we have still been able to shower, cook, and function more or less. Last night we cooked up this skirt steak with green beans and potatoes. It was super simple but if I had to do it again, I might not use skirt steak. I think a sirloin would have really heightened the meal. Fingers crossed that we are able to cook tonight before collapsing into a pile of sleepless jelly!

Ingredients:

1lb Skirt Steak

6 Ounces Long Beans

4 Cloves Garlic

1 Bunch Thyme

1 Pound Russet Potatoes

1 Tomato

Preheat the oven to 500°F. Place the potatoes on a sheet pan. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to thoroughly coat. Arrange the seasoned potatoes in a single layer and roast in the oven for 20 to 22. season the steaks with salt and pepper on both sides. In a large pan, heat 2 teaspoons of olive oil on medium until hot. Add the seasoned steaks and cook, loosely covering the pan with aluminum foil, 4 to 6 minutes per side. Remove the steaks from the pan and set aside. Add 2 teaspoons of olive oil to the pan and heat , dd the diced garlic cloves and cook. Add the long beans, tomato, half the thyme. Season with salt and pepper. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 4-5 minutes. Plate the dish by placing the potatoes first, top with greens, and lastly add the steak. Enjoy!

shrimp summer rolls

Our last Blue Apron recipe for the week was for Shrimp Summer Rolls. This was the one recipe that David was not too excited about. As a result, it has us questioning whether or not joining Blue Apron is right for us. While you can indicate generally what you want to eat via categories such as poultry, beef, and vegetarian, you don’t really get to specify what you want to eat in detail. So if you have selected to receive seafood, you are open to receiving then any type of seafood dish. Some you might really like and others you might be lukewarm about it. Even though David was not a fan of the summer rolls as an idea, once it was cooked up it was quite good. When we go to the Cheesecake Factory, I always like to have the summer roll for an appetizer so now being able to make these myself will satisfy my craving for this light and refreshing dish.

photo-36

Ingredients:

1 Bunch Cilantro

1 Bunch Mint

1 Carrot

1 Head Red Leaf Lettuce

1 Kirby Cucumber

10 Ounces Peeled, Deveined Shrimp

2 Ounces Cellophane Noodles

1/4 Cup Peanut Butter

1 Tablespoon Mirin

1 Tablespoon Soy Sauce

1 Tablespoon Sriracha

10 Rice Paper Wrappers

 

Bring a small pot of water to boil. Turn the heat off and add the cellophane noodles. Allow the noodles to sit in the hot water to cook for 2-3 minutes. Drain, run under cold water for 30 seconds and set aside. In a pan, heat a tablespoon of olive oil, add the shrimp, season with salt and pepper, and saute until shrimp are cooked through approximately 4 minutes. Take the shrimp off the heat and place them on a plate in the refrigerator to cool down. Now it is time to assemble the roll. Cut the cucumber and carrot into thin strips, pull the mint and cilantro leaves from the stem, and wash the lettuce. In a swallow bowl of warm water dip the rice wrapper for 20-30 seconds. Lay the softened rice wrapper on a clean surface, place lettuce, carrot and cucumber strips, 3-4 shrimp, 1-2 mint leaves, 1-2 cilantro leaves, and cellophane noodles. Roll the wrapper like a burrito and place on a plate. Repeat the assembly line until you have used all of the ingredients.

Sauce: In a small bowl add the peanut butter, mirin, soy sauce, and sirarcha (to taste)