tuuuurtle! totally unrelated to this post, but really cute, no?
I'm not one to be excited about vegan dishes, usually. We have several vegan restaurants in Memphis
and I haven't tried any of them. My
husband and I both eat anything, so usually a (to me) more realistic option for
us is somewhere that, you know, serves dairy and meat.
However. I also
really love vegetables and could
probably become vegetarian if the need arose.
I usually order meals that aren't very meat-centric, and we eat meat-free
salads all week long (which helps us balance out our typical gluttonous
weekends of eating out and my baking habits).
So, when I saw Appetite
for Reductionin my suggested reads on my Amazon homepage, I was
somewhat dubious but intrigued because, wow, if you take one look at the
reviews it's pretty hard not to see that this is a promising book. I bought it last year sometime, and of course
am just now getting around to using it.
But poor me! I could
have been enjoying these recipes for an entire year. Dang, people, these are good recipes. Not only are they full of flavor, you have
barely anything to feel guilty about - approximately 200 to 400 calories per
serving and you're done. Seriously, go
try some of her recipes here. And then buy her book.
And if you try just one recipe, try her Chickpea Piccata recipe. I made it over the weekend and brought it to
work for my lunches. I added some
chicken (not vegan, remember?), and ate it over arugula. Oh. My. Goodness. Seriously.
Somehow the flavors combine and give you rainbows in your mouth. I read a lot of food blogs and become irritated
when people get excited about a recipe online ("Try this! OMG!") because then I have to wait hours
until I can get home and try it myself, but at the risk of being annoying, I'll
say it again - make this recipe NOW. So
good, so fast, so easy. You could serve
it over potatoes (or her Caulipots which I still have yet to try), or just eat
it with arugula like I did.
Seriously. Go now. Then when you eat this for lunch (like I did today), you'll have extra calories that you can use up on the lemon meringue pie you baked over the weekend and will eat a slice of (like I will tonight).
A few Saturdays ago I really wanted something crispy and
crunchy, and something with shrimp. I
thought long and hard about this, and wrote a recipe in my head that involved
breading shrimp with panko and then baking it.
As much as I would like to think that I'm the first one to think of it,
a quick google search proved me wrong.
There are no more real, original ideas, right?
I settled on this
recipe, and modified it back to reality by using a whole egg and 2%
milk. I knew going into it that the
seasoning looked a little on the bland side, and yikes, I was right. Next time I'll amp up the flavorings for
sure. If we had eaten this shrimp on its
own, the lack of flavor would have been more of an issue, but I served it with
homemade remoulade, which more than made up for the flavor deficiency in the
shrimp. I typically use the remoulade
recipe from this
book (gosh how I love this book.
Have I told you that before? I
bought this at an antique mall - at the much missed Bojo's
in Memphis - after our honeymoon to New Orleans and I looove it. Love!
His little stories alone about his mom and grandmother are worth the
price of the book, but the recipes are great as well).
Also: Mother's Day. Let me just say...my husband did so
well. As did the weather! I told him I didn't want any gifts - just
time with the two of them. So that's
exactly what we did. We kicked off the
weekend with brunch at Cafe
Eclectic, and then we drove out to Shelby Farms to pick
strawberries. I told my husband that I
want this to be just one of the many traditions that we start with A. My grandmother took me to pick strawberries
when I was young and I always remember that fondly. After the berry picking (and A's first
taste!), we had milkshakes at Wiles-Smith, and
then we went home and I got to make jam while little A played in the kitchen
with me. That night, we grilled pork
steaks and corn on the cob and enjoyed our deck and the nice weather. On Sunday, my husband made me buttermilk
waffle, bacon, and coffee. Do you see a
theme with this Mother's Day?
And then last weekend (yes, I'm still typing, I'm really
sorry), there was a request put in for some homemade ice cream, so I made
french vanilla ice cream using this
recipe from my KitchenAid ice cream maker recipe booklet. I know, way to branch out, right? But I've made it before and it's so. so.
good. Does anyone else sort of gasp when
they start pouring the custard into the mixer, like it won't all fit in
there? It always miraculously does,
though. And each time I make ice cream I
think about the other recipes that I want to try, like this. I'm also on the lookout for a pistachio ice
cream (or gelato? custard?) recipe. Any
ideas out there?
is how I feel about coffee. I wish every
moment was a morning moment so I can just slowly sip good coffee and pick at a
warm pastry. Right?
Ok, one last link. I
brisket on Saturday night for some good friends (who are
expecting! Any day now, and our little
boy will have a playmate!), and it turned out beautifully. I didn't have any peach preserves on hand,
but I did have canned peaches. I tried
to make them better by simmering them in butter and brown sugar for an
hour. It was a good stand in for the
I promised a report on those pink cookies that I made last
week last month. I'm afraid to say
that I was a bit disappointed in them. I
think the cherry flavoring (the one thing that had intrigued me about that
recipe!) really threw everything off...the flavor was subtle but I still felt
like I was tasting icing mixed with cherry cough syrup. I sent the majority of them to school with my
husband (the students loved them of course, but what kids don't love cookies?),
and the rest I have frozen: iced and ready to go, for the drop-in guest, since
I doubt we'll eat them soon. Not the
worst cookies I've ever made, but...I don't think I'll be revisiting that
recipe. Sorry, Molly!
In other cooking news, I've really been interested in
cooking more meat on the stovetop (as I've said before, I usually leave the
meat to my grill-loving husband), so for the past few weekends, we've been
indulging in some warm, fatty meals.
It's usually a combination of stewed/braised meat + grain/carb. My recipes of choice have been:
Pork Vindaloo (Spicy Pork with Cinnamon), from
How to Cook Everything (here
is the original recipe, but I really like this
adaptation - she added squash and raisins!) + rice
The spicy pork recipe is an absolute winner, which makes me
glad that I ignored my inner cheapskate and shelled out the $10 for the
cardamom spice. A warning, though: the
color of the final dish is a dismal, almost unappealing dark grey. That's why I really liked the idea of adding
squash (or onions?) to the mix for next time to add some color.
We did have one warm weekend somewhere near the end of
February so I made Creamy Cabbage and Potatoes (here),
and served it with Cheese Stuffed Grilled Flank Steak (you like how I
capitalized that like it's an actual recipe?).
Whenever we put out sausage and cheese plates for dinner guests (or just
ourselves, we love apps!), we'll sprinkle some Rendezvous
seasoning on the sausage, so we thought why not adapt that for the steak? We sprinkled the meat with the seasoning and
then stuffed the steak with sharp cheddar.
Paired with the cabbage and potato dish, it was such a good combo! We patted ourselves on the back for that one.
On the sweet side, I
made Spicy Date Bars from my absolute favorite
one). I've probably posted about it
before, but every recipe I try out of it is a pure winner. It seems like so many of the recipes in the book involve dates, prunes, or
raisins, so if those aren't your thing then you may not like it.
I also made these Orange
Chocolate Chip Ricotta muffins over the weekend. The base batter was fantastic, and the orange
flavor + chocolate was very good. I
think next time I'd use a combination of bittersweet or semi-sweet chips - milk
chocolate was just too sweet, but I was trying to use up what's in my pantry
(don't you love doing that?). I also
think another good combo would be to substitute walnuts for the chocolate
chips. I cut back on the sugar a bit and
left off the glaze, and we didn't miss either. P.S. Why is it still so cold??
We used to have the neatest bookstore here in Memphis. It was about halfway between downtown and
East Memphis and it was actually an old movie theatre that Elvis Presley used
to frequent. It had a big upper balcony
that - from what I've heard - he used to rent out completely and then invite
all of his buddies to watch movies with him.
Here is a neat link
that suggests the term "Elvis has left the building" may have been
shouted here for the first time. Here's
if you're interested in the history.
So, back to the bookstore.
We loved frequenting this place because it was one of the few bookstores
within the loosely defined midtown limits (read: less than a 10 minute drive
from our house). Plus, it was
independently owned and my husband was always able to find great poetry
there. Considering our great love of
this store, we were devastated when it was announced that it would be closing
in late 2010. Mad sales ensued, so we
made sure to stop in every weekend or so to see what sort of deals we could
grab. Surprisingly, I found Molly
Homemade Lifein a discount pile by the door, marked at 50% off the
already reduced price - down to $3. Since
I've been following her blog for awhile now, and was surely convinced that
everyone around me did too and knew who she was, I was surprised that no one
had snatched it up yet.
That was in 2010. I
read the book cover to cover in about a day and a half - the writing is
captivating, the stories are heartfelt and genuine, and she writes about food
the way that I feel about it - that it's not just food; it's a link to our
past, to our ancestry. It's about
building memories, and passing on traditions.
I feverishly bookmarked almost all of the recipes that she includes in
the book, and...then I put it away. And
didn't actually make any of those recipes.
Because one of those recipes stuck with me. Does that ever happen to you? You have that one recipe that's been in the
back of your mind, always hovering, whispering to be made. For me, that recipe was Jimmy's Pink Cookies
(and here). The cookie dough recipe didn't strike me as
anything particularly fancy, but the pink cream cheese icing, with hints of
cherry or kirsch flavoring, is what sealed the deal. I even went out and bought pure cherry
extract a few weeks after reading the book, in anticipating of making the
recipe soon. I had good intentions,
alright, but no follow through back then.
These cookies also came about because I am stuck on the idea
that now I have a son, I really need to make more of an effort to celebrate
each holiday and these cookies seemed like the perfect treat for that. (Don't worry, the baby didn't get any cookies
this year. I'm just gearing up for when
he will!). These cookies were made in
small, drawn out, baby-friendly steps. I
mixed up the dough on Saturday, rolled and cut them out on Sunday morning, stuck
them in the fridge on the baking sheets, and then baked them on Sunday
night. They are currently in my freezer, waiting to be iced. (Side note: don't be like me and
insist on using a barely 2" wide mini heart cookie cutter. I ended up with, I don't know, 75 or more small
hearts, and icing each one of them is going to be exhausting!. I love mini cookies, but I don't love making
them. Hopefully their adorable-ness will be worth it). I have yet to make the icing, but I will report back once I have them fully assembled and will let you know the result. If any of you have small babies, you'll understand why this is a big undertaking.
Also of note: I ended up making Wizenberg's Dutch
baby on Sunday morning. Since I had
pulled out her book to make the pink cookies, I found myself rereading the
stories and recipes and was thrilled to see the Dutch baby one. Weirdly enough, I had pulled another
Dutch baby recipe to make that morning, but I didn't want to use my 10"
cast iron skillet and the apples seemed like way too much work before 10
am. This ended up being one of those
ridiculously perfect recipes for that exact moment, because I had everything I
needed, the Dutch baby batter came together in a matter of minutes, it fit into
my 8" cast iron skillet, and the recipe was written for 2 servings. Perfect for my husband and me (and baby -
kidding! No Dutch baby for him yet. Can you tell that I just cannot wait for him to be able to eat real food with us?). The recipe I linked to mentions using
clarified butter for the topping, but you really don't need it. I even skipped the lemon juice because I was
lazy, but I'm sure it would be spectacular with that. For us, all it needed was a liberal
sprinkling of powdered sugar, and to be paired with a few pieces of salty bacon
and a strong cup of coffee. Sunday
morning bliss, I tell you.
This girl is so happy to be eating again. I unfortunately fell victim to the norovirus
(or food poisoning? Does it matter?) last weekend and thought I'd never be able
to eat anything again. Nothing sounded
good and the things that I did manage to choke down all tasted like
cardboard. Not fun. Also not fun when you're breastfeeding a
But not this weekend!
I felt a million times better and couldn't get my hands on enough food. I took advantage of little A's good mood on
Saturday afternoon and simultaneously prepped ingredients for dinner and a dessert. Also, can I mention how good my baby is? If he's not hungry, he'll sit contentedly
with me in the kitchen, watching my every move and cooing softly while I cook
and bake. It's a lovely time. I'm hoping that some of this will rub off on
him and he'll share my love of food.
Back to the food. I
had bookmarked this
recipe for pork chops and scallion dressing awhile ago and decided this
weekend was a great one to try it. I
ended up sautéing the scallions, ginger, and the leftover marinade in the pan with
a big handful of mushrooms, and served that alongside the chops, all on a bed
of napa cabbage and shredded carrots.
I'll be honest, I think the marinade was lacking in flavor - either that
or I just didn't marinade it long enough.
We skipped the sweet potato fries because someone does not like them (I think he's crazy).
As for the dessert, I've been on such a ginger kick lately
(I almost always have fresh ginger in our vegetable drawer, specifically for
recipes like the one above! Or, this
one). So it only made sense to bake this
Pear and Walnut cake (with some tweaks, of course). I subbed in apples for the pears, and thought
I'd be clever and bake it in two loaf pans instead of a bundt pan - that way,
we could slice it up and pretend that it's perfectly suitable to eat as a
breakfast bread. I discovered that it didn't quite make enough
batter to fill two loaf pans (or at least mine, which I think are 9x5...it
would probably work with pans that are 8x4), so I ended up with two short and
stout loaves of crumbly (but amazingly good) gingery cake breakfast
bread. If you're like me, and can
justify eating cake for breakfast, than I highly recommend this, despite the
short loaves. I may cut back on the
sugar next time, but as is, the recipe is a keeper.
Sunday was almost as enjoyable as Saturday, despite the fact
that a certain little baby seems to be going through a three month growth spurt
and insisted on eating every. single. hour.
Exhausting for momma! Between
feedings and Skyping with my parents (not at the same time, ha!) I managed to
make Baked Ziti
for dinner. I followed the recipe as is,
and it was good, although could probably use some doctoring up - maybe more red
pepper flakes, or a ton more basil.
Either way, a hot and bubbly meal on Sunday night is almost always the
perfect way to end the weekend.
I'm already plotting my next lineup of weekend recipes...any
Saturday started out rather bumpy. Our best laid morning plans quickly went down
the drain and instead were replaced by a trip to the minor med for my husband,
who thought (and was correct) that he had a pretty nasty sinus infection.I, of course, stayed home with little A.Who knows what he would have caught in that waiting
But the meal we had on Saturday night made up for the rocky
morning. While my husband braved the
minor med I putzed around in the kitchen, drank coffee, played with the baby
(did I mention I love the mornings with him?
It's when he's in the best mood) and prepared the marinade for Chicken
Satay. I know, another Mark Bittman recipe...but I couldn't help it. I had the other half of the chicken thighs in
the freezer and Bittman's recipes are so foolproof that I couldn't turn it
down. And remember my last post when I
said we were in a rut? Well, I had a
request for the same cabbage and carrot salad and the same glazed carrots to be
served with the Satay. So, maybe we're
sliding into another rut again.
Sunday morning called for buttermilk waffles and bacon since
my husband was feeling so much better.
After we were finished (isn't is always after?), we rationalized this
fatty, fatty meal by deciding to do next what we had originally planned to do
on Saturday - go take a long walk down by the river. With the baby. And two dogs.
After that exertion (my goodness, the effort to pack up two dogs and a
baby...exhausting), we decided to treat ourselves again to some oysters, beer,
and fried okra at Flying
Fish. The baby enjoyed his
And then I topped off my day by making this red
beans and bacon soup. I left
out the tomatoes, celery, and Sherry and stuck to the 1-1/2 cups of
carrots. I also skipped cooking the
bacon beforehand and just threw the bacon pieces in with the broth so it could
cook along with the beans. So I
basically didn't follow the recipe at all, but the result was a nice, smoky,
meaty bean stew. Exactly what I wanted
to have for my lunches this week since it is so cold today. And for a second there I was going to type
something about how healthy this was (in order to counteract the fried goodness
and beer a few hours prior), but who am I trying to kid? There was a lot of bacon.