Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Chicken Kiev

                 We were studying Russia in our homeschool the past week, so of course we needed to have a dish to celebrate this country.  My precocious 11 year old daughter looked up Russian recipes and said "what's Chicken Kiev"?  I said, "it's something that I have all the ingredients for".
                 Chicken Kiev actually doesn't come from Kiev.  The origins are actually in debate.  Some say it was created by a French chef for a Russian Empress in the 1700's.  Others believe it to be more of a modern dish, and became very popular in the 20th century.
                  The ingredients should be readily available in your kitchen.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Cauliflower and Onion Tart

                   It's not too often that my husband, myself, and my kids can go out for a nice bistro type lunch.  Okay, how about never.  You can't take 4 kids 11 and under to a cute little restaurant that serves quaint dishes.  Well, if you can't go to the experience, you have to bring it to your home.                    I used to get Bon Appetit magazine delivered.  I stopped receiving it years ago, probably 5 years now.  Luckily, all the recipes can be found at I once made a cauliflower and onion tart that turned out delicious.  It seems like one of those dishes you would find in a small corner restaurant.
                   I did make some adjustments to the original recipe which you can find here.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Creamy Onion Soup

                  Do you remember hearing stories about how during the depression, people really needed to find many ways to make food go further.  They needed to come up with new dishes out of cheap ingredients.  You heard about cabbage soup I am sure.
                  Onions are generally an inexpensive food to buy.  If you are like me, you have a pantry stocked with chicken broth.  Put one and one together, and you have the fixings for a real inexpensive meal that is quite tasty.
                  This is not a French style onion soup.  It is more similar to The Outback Restaurant Creamy Onion Soup.  It is a filling soup that goes well with some hearty bread and a salad.  It is a great fall recipe that is sure to warm up your soul, and it is easy to make.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Gnocchi alla Romana

                           My youngest loves gnocchi, so I wanted to attempt to make her some from scratch.  Yes, it just wasn't going to be for her alone.  While I was looking up gnocchi recipes I came across  "Gnocchi alla Romana".  These are gnocchi made with semolina and not potato.  I always thought that gnocchi were just made with potato.  I was intrigued.  The potato gnocchi can seem a bit heavy.  Just with that last sentence, I answered my question about there being different types of gnocchi because I had labeled those gnocchi as potato.

                           It just so happens that potato gnocchi are more of a newer version of a gnocchi.  They've only been around since the 16th century (only : ) ), thanks to the introduction of the potato in Europe.  Prior to that they'd been made from flour and water and semolina.  So depending on where you lived in Italy the dish could be made of potato or semolina.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Chocolate Cookie Ice Cream Sandwiches

                   My 9 year old reminded me today that I had yet kept my promise to make ice cream sandwiches like the kind the local ice cream shop makes.  There's are supersized Oreo Cookies with ice cream in the middle.
                   Guilt set in so after school was done today I set out to complete my promise.  I just made some adjustments to the Oreo Cookie recipe I had posted back in August.  I think I like the way these "Oreo's" came out better actually then my original post's recipe.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Chicken and Pasta Toss

                  My 11 year old's favorite television personality is Alton Brown.  For those of you that don't know, he is a food television host on Food Network.  She enjoys watching repeats of his show "Good Eats".  I attribute to him her love of sushi.  My husband and I are not fish eaters.  We would never stop our children though from partaking in a new food though.  Well, she watched his show on sushi over and over.  She would recite facts to me about sushi and fish that she learned and I would try and sound interested.  Well a year ago she begged for us to let her try sushi.  Now, up until now she had never had seafood, aside from tuna salad.  So my husband and I said fine, that if she wanted to try sushi we weren't going to stop her.  She loved it, and still does.

                  She recently watched him make chicken piccata.  She asked me to make chicken piccata just as I was chopping chicken for another dish.  Not wanting to disappoint my daughter, I adjusted my plans.   I would create a lemon hinted sauce with pasta and broccoli. The dish got me two thumbs, so I thought I would share it.  It was relatively quick to make.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Barbecue Meatloaf

                 Remember in "A Christmas Story", when Ralphie's little brother wouldn't eat his dinner.  The dinner was meatloaf, and when he wouldn't eat it he said, "meatloaf, beetloaf, I hate meatloaf".  How those lines stuck with many of us.  We can thank the invention of the meat grinder in 1899 for having brought about the ability for us to make the modern meatloaf.
                  Meatloaf during the depression was a great way to get expensive meat to go a long way.  You could throw numerous ingredients in with the ground meat and turn it into an expansive loaf.  You could get imaginative with it.  Do you sauce, or not sauce.  Throw mash potatoes on top maybe.  There are lots of ways to get this seemingly boring meal into something that is so good that even Ralphie's little brother would eat it.  (Without acting like a pig.) Hopefully you all understand my reference to "A Christmas Story".  If in case you haven't seen it, it is an American classic at this point in time.  You know it is Christmas season when TBS plays 24 hours of A Christmas Story.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Pizza Buns

              I came across a recipe at King Arthur Flour for what they called "Pizza Buns".  Pizza being the one food all of my kids can agree upon, I was intrigued.  It is a savory form of the cinnamon bun.  A new way to serve up an old dish, in this case pizza, is a great way to excite everyone about lunch or dinner.
              It starts out in the form of stromboli, so this enables you to place a filling in the dough, and then also top it with more toppings.  Since you are going to be slicing the stromboli prior to cooking you can have toppings placed to please everyone.
               It does take time to make, since you are making the dough and it needs to rise twice. If you have no time during the week this is something you can make on a weekend and then freeze for during the week.  The results are worth the work.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

"Taco" Pizza

               I recently posted a homemade taco sauce recipe.  It was a hit here in my house.  I wanted to share a recipe that I made using it.  I used it to make a "Taco" Pizza.  It is a pizza, because I use pizza dough for the base and not a tortilla.  The "Taco" part, refers to the spices and the Taco Sauce.  Regardless of the semantics, it's delicious, and if you love tacos you will love this.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Homemade Taco Sauce

                   I will admit that the first time I can remember eating a taco was during college at Taco Bell.  I will also admit that I kind of liked it.  (I am now grimacing.  How could I have tolerated that "Grade D, but edible" meat?  I know better now.  I still love tacos though.  We make them often enough here in my house.  Whenever Taco Sauce was on sale at the store, I would buy a few bottles to have on hand.  I was recently down to my last bottle of mild "Ortega".  I just happened to glance at the ingredients and saw that right after the water was high fructose corn syrup.  Really?  A new mission: Homemade Taco Sauce.
                   It just so happens that a quick internet search showed that I was not the only one to go on this quest.  There are quite a few.  I was able to combine a few ideas from   I tweaked the recipe a bit.
                   What I came up with was a recipe that actually, according to my husband, is very similar to Ortega Taco Sauce.  It's not completely mild.  It has a small bit of bite to it, but it wasn't spicy where my kids wouldn't eat it.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Tomato and Cheese Pizza

                What is so special about a tomato and cheese pizza?  Why would I bother posting about something as boring as a tomato and cheese pizza.  I sometimes think that just a few ingredients put together in just a simple way makes the best dish.  It's a new way to discover some old flavors.

                 I remember there was a take out pizza place near where I had once worked many years ago, before I was married.  They had a bruschetta pizza on the menu.  I had never had something like that.  I always had had the regular tomato sauce and cheese pizza with some varied toppings.  To have a pizza without cheese was new to me.  Bruschetta topping which consisted of chopped plum tomatoes, garlic, and onions laid on a thin crust pizza dough was the best pizza I had ever eaten.  That ended up being the only pizza I ever bothered getting again at the take out place.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Bulgogi Steak Sandwich

                  I posted a recipe for Bulgogi recently (Korean grilled steak). I loved how it turned out.  I was left with some leftovers though, so what to do with them was the next issue.  It didn't take too long to come up with putting the leftover sliced steak into a sandwich.  That's what happens with a lot of leftover meats, such as roast beef, and turkey.  Who hasn't had the leftover Thanksgiving turkey with cranberry sauce and stuffing?

                  I love sandwiches.  I especially love the creative kind that has  a mix of some vegetables with some sort of aioli spread, or a meat sandwich with different toppings.  A good mix of flavors that somehow when they come together make your taste buds wake up and say "hey, I want some more of that!"

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Let Your Shopping Pay You Back

                The Holiday Season is upon us again.  It just seemed to have crept up like it always does.  We got our pumpkins last weekend and after weeks of mulling over Halloween costumes, finally got them ordered.  My son is going to be his usual Football Player.  He's been wearing a different team's uniform for the last 3 years now.  I'm starting to think it is sneaky way of just trying to collect helmets.  (Of course there are teams that he is forbidden from being due to my husbands deep dislike of them. )  My oldest, the dancer, is going to be a Disco Dancer, my fluttery 5 year old is going to be a fairy, and my tot tot will be an angel (I think she is one of course already).
                Right after Halloween the stores start putting up the Christmas and Hannukah displays.  Thanksgiving is acknowledged, but it seems to be less now.  It's a shame because Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday.
                 With 4 kids I have learned how to shop well.  I am great at taking advantage of sales and combining store coupons.  "What? Gymboree has a sale?  I'll just wait until my Gymbucks can be used and save another 50% on the clothes".  (That's how I think).

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Vanilla Wafer Cookies

           So there I was trying to think about what to cook today.  I knew I wanted to bake something since we haven't had cookies in the house for a week.  I made graham crackers 2 weeks ago and the remnants of crumbs was all that remained in my cookie container.  Surprisingly there has been no whining about how we didn't have any cookies.  So since there was no complaining yet, I figured I would beat any potential griping to the punch. 

            There I was checking my emails when I received an email from a certain food manufacturer.  They happen to produce an all American favorite for those Banana Pudding Cakes.  Yes, I am speaking of Vanilla Wafers.

             When they were permitted in our house prior to the war on processed food and anything with high fructose corn syrup, they were gobbled up.  What was not to like?  A vanilla flavored cookie that seemed so light, there was no way you could gain weight eating one of them. 

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

"Hibachi" Fried Rice

                 I've been posting a lot lately on Asian style cuisine.  Partly it is because we've been studying Asia in our homeschool.  I have to say that I am quite enjoying our virtual travels to these countries.  I guess cooking these great foods is a perk to studying the countries in Asia. 

                  About 15- 20 years ago there seemed to be a huge pop up of Japanese Hibachi restaurants everywhere.  There was always Benihana, but then lots of smaller places came into being.  They would show up in strip malls, or in smaller building all unto themselves.  You would walk in and smell the varnished wood.  You would then hear the flowing of a water feature somewhere, possibly a Koi Pond or a small fountain.  Then you would have a beautiful fish tank in view filled with the most colorful fish.  You get greeted by a friendly host who gives you a small bow and even a gong with a mallet.  Once you arrive at a large hibachi table you find yourself seated with other couples or families.  Here you have the ability to converse with strangers.  Before you know it, a chef with an imposing chef's hat has his super sharp knives cutting meat and vegetables in such a way, that you say to yourself "when I go home I am going to order some of those Ginzu's".  Within 15 minutes you've got deliciously tender sliced meat along with vegetables, noodles and a dipping sauce.  What is also great is that for 45 minutes or so you were immersed in a different culture. 

Monday, October 8, 2012

Bulgogi (Korean Barbecued Beef)

               Way back when, when I lived in New York, there was a Japanese restaurant my parents and I frequented.  That's where I was introduced to bulgogi.  Yes, bulgogi is Korean, but this Japanese restaurant was serving it.  I remember the first time I had it.  I thought it was delicious.  It probably ended up being the only the I ever ate there.  Of course I grew up and moved on and far away from that little Japanese restaurant that served this amazing Korean dish. 

                In case you don't know, bulgogi is thinly sliced beef that is marinated and then grilled.   The Korean meaning of bulgogi is "fire meat".

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Penne au Gratin

                 Okay, okay,  I mean mac and cheese, but if I would have had the title "Mac and Cheese" would you be reading this post?  Like many people in the U.S., I had my fair share of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese.  It was probably one of the first things I learned to cook as a kid.

                 As an adult, you still look at macaroni and cheese as comfort food, but the limpy, soft noodle and orange colored powdered cheese doesn't seem to cut it anymore.  I even feel guilt throwing it in front of my kids.  As a parent and as an adult, you have a need to make a macaroni and cheese with more substance.  A need to make something more fresh and satisfying.  How about a baked macaroni and cheese that combines multiple cheeses and has a crunchy topping to offset the texture of the pasta?

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Roasted Pepper and Corn Chowder

               There was a time a bunch of years ago, when I stopped cooking meat at home.  Not that we had turned vegetarian.  We wanted to eat less meat, so the rule was that we had to bring ourselves to learn to eat more vegetables.  We tried vegetables we never tried before and I learned to cook vegetables in different ways other than steaming them.  I wanted to make vegetables more fun and have less of an ick factor.   I came across a Corn and Bell Pepper Chowder in Bon Appetit Magazine. Yes, we had eaten corn and peppers before, but never combined into a soup.

               The first time I made this soup, I followed the recipe exactly.  Of course as time went by, I became more confident in my cooking and changed the soup up a bit from the original.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012


          We studied India recently. It is a country with an interesting history.  It had been ruled numerous times by different empires.  One was the Mughal Empire.  It was during this empire that the Taj Mahal was built.  In case you don't know, it was built by the Emperor Shah Jahan who's wife died during the birth of their 14th child.  It was a monument to her.  

            Europeans loved the spices that were found in India.  Hundreds of years ago selling spices led to great wealth. This led the Portugese and British to India.  The British ended up governing India for almost 400 years, until India gained it's independence in 1947, thanks in part to Gandhi.  

           We learned that India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh were once all of India. After England gave India it's independence, it broke up India into West Pakistan, India, and East Pakistan.  The Pakistan's were made up of mostly Muslim's.  Later on East Pakistan would become Bangladesh.

            Today, India has people that are very poor, and some are quite wealthy.  My kids couldn't believe that some people didn't own a television, let alone have toilet in the home.  

            Even with so many people impoverished, India has high tech cities.  It is home to many technology companies, animation companies, and has a famous movie industry.  

            There is lot's more to learn about India.  If you would like to learn more, some great books are India, T is for Taj Mahal, and Children Just Like Me.


Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Soy Lime Fajitas

               The first time I had fajitas was in a Houlihan's Restaurant many moons ago.  I thought it was one of the best things I ever ate.  I loved that the meat was not all dry and had a delicious sauce.  The onions were caramelized and so sweet.

                I've had many fajitas since at various restaurants.  Mostly the meat is all dry, without flavor, and the main flavor is supposed to come from the salsa.  Needless to say, eating fajitas is pretty much a hit or miss with me.  I actually do compare all to the Houlihan's recipe.  So yes, I am mostly disappointed.

                I came up with a recipe for fajitas where the meat is flavorful and not dry.  For me, I prefer it to one you would get in a restaurant. 

Monday, October 1, 2012

Green Bean Casserole

            Before we know it, the holiday season will be upon us.  My husband starts annoying people on June 25th.  "Only 6 months until Christmas",  he'll say.  He will receive grumbles in return.  But, before you know it, summer flies by (as it always seems to), and it's fall.

            One of those dishes that is considered a "traditional" holiday dish (in the U.S. anyway), is green bean casserole.  It's a combination of canned cream of mushroom soup, green beans, mushrooms, and bagged crunchy onions.  This casserole was created by the Campbell's Soup Company back in 1955.  It was considered a quick and easy side dish for holiday dinner's.

             I will admit that I am not a fan of mushrooms, so this dish was never one I partook.  I do like green beans though and I do like to find new ways to cook up vegetables.  I decided to make my own version of this holiday staple found in so many American Homes.  Yes, it does not contain mushrooms.  If you are one who does like mushrooms, you're free to add them in.