"The best times you are going to have in life are at the dinner table and in bed." Old Italian saying. So relax, and enjoy the simple things!

28.2.13

Chicken Breast Diable: French Fridays With Dorie

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Chicken Breast Diable: simplelviingeating.com

During my brief time teaching middle school English at a Yeshiva I learned many things about Judaism. One of the profoundest discoveries was that Jews do not have a Devil.

There is no evil Being taunting and tempting you in Judaism. I was so jealous. Growing up Catholic in the 70's was all about the devil... it was the age of "The Exorcist" and "Rosemary's Baby" The devil was not just tormenting Christians, he was haunting everyone in America... there was no escaping him. 


Chicken Diable served with Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans
Chicken Diable served with Mashed Potatoes & Green Beans

This dish is called "Diable" which in French means "The Devil" but there is nothing diabolical about this chicken. It is classic, classic, French fare: butter, shallots, garlic, white wine, cream, Worcestershire sauce and yes... lots of Dijon mustard which is the diable of the ingredients.

This chicken is elegant and easy to make... I almost always have the ingredients for it on hand. It can be thrown together and served within a half an hour...


It is almost too good... BEWARE, once you eat it you will want to eat it again and again... You might even be willing to sell your soul to you know who... for just one more bite.


Here is a recipe for Chicken Breast Diable

Note: As a member of French Friday's with Dorie I am not allowed to print the recipe. I invite you to take a look at this wonderful cookbook "Around My French Table" if you are interested in this or any other recipe I review. 

 





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27.2.13

It's Maple Sugarin' Time!: Simple Living in Practice

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tapping Maple Sugar trees
Maple Sugarin'

The nights are still getting down to freezing here in Northern Westchester NY, but the days can get up into the 40's. Last week was the first week that the temperatures rose and fell like this for the entire week... and you know what that means. IT'S SUGARIN' TIME.


sugar maple branch
Identify Your Sugar Maple tree's by their branches 

You see if you don't tap the sap of Sugar Maple trees at the right time you will not get the most sap. It takes 30 gallons of sap to make 1 gallon of maple syrup. Once the weather gets too warm the sap gets cloudy, when that happens your tapping time is over.


drilling into Maple tree
My Owl Daughter drilling into the tree.

Well, it seems the Balch Family hit the season right on... we tapped our 3 trees this weekend and we already have about 35 gallons of sap... that should keep us in pancakes for a while.


sap coming out of maple tree
There is sap!

sap coming out of maple tree
Wow it is really coming out quick!

This is our first year tapping our trees. We took a class last winter but because the weather had been exceptionally mild we missed the sugarin' season.


hammering in tap to maple sugar tree
My son hammering in the tap.
attaching tube to buckets maple sugaring
My husband attaches the tubes to the buckets.

This year we are so excited... between our bee's honey and our Maple syrup we are going to be one SWEET family this Spring.


maple sugaring buckets in trees
Let it flow...

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25.2.13

Ruta-what-a,...Rutabagas!: Healthy Eating/Weekly Menu Plan

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Rutabagas
Rutabagas

In my quest to eat seasonally and healthy I have been venturing in to the murky waters of root vegetables. Squash is not strange... we all eat that during Thanksgiving... but celery root and now rutabaga... such a name,... it's origin is Swiss meaning "root ram" it is basically a yellow turnip. 

So, if you like a slightly bitter, woody vegetable especially to off set the sweetness of carrots or beets this is a great vegetable for you to incorporate into your winter diet. Rutabagas are high in fiber and a great source of vitamin C and contain iron and calcium too.


I made Mario Baltali's recipe  Sautéed Rutabagas with Chiles, Mint, and Maple from his seasonally guiding cookbook: Simple Family Meals: From My Home to Yours. 




The Maple syrup in this recipe really balanced the bitter woodiness of the rutabaga and the chiles add a nice heat...the mint was a really interesting, light surprise...

Sautéed Rutabagas with Chiles, Mint, and Maple


Here are some other recipes for rutabaga that you might like to try:

Sautéed Mushroom & Rutabaga Soup
Sautéed Mushroom & Rutabaga Soup
Weekly Menu Plan: 


Sunday: Langousta in Seafood Risotto

Meatless Monday: White Eggplant, Black-eyed Peas,  Roasted Beets and Potatoes

Tuesday: Bacon Scallion Yellow Lentil Soup with Rustic Bread

Wednesday: Chicken Diable with Mashed Potatoes

Thursday: Black Bean Enchiladas with Salad

Friday: Fish Sticks, Green Beans, and Corn

22.2.13

Squash with Sausage: Foodie Friday: Spaghetti

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Spaghetti Squash with Sausage
Spaghetti Squash with Sausage 

Squash that turns into spaghetti? Talk about built in fun with kids. Have your little ones scrap out the inside of this squash and watch as they are amazed by the strings of pasta they find.


spaghetti squash
making spaghetti

Of course it is not really pasta... it is a low calorie, gluten- free, high nutrition, vegetable that you use like pasta.

So try your favorite pasta recipes with Spaghetti Squash... here is one to start with:


Spaghetti Squash with Sausage

by Diane Balch
simplelivingeating.com

preparation including baking time for squash: 40 minutes   serves: 4-6

Ingredient:

1 spaghetti squash
2 tablespoon of extra-virgin olive oil
1 onion chopped
1 pound of Italian Sausage or Veggie Sausage chopped (I like Morningstar Farms)
1 tablespoon fresh chopped sage or 1/4 cup fresh chopped parsley
pinch of red pepper flakes
pinch of nutmeg
grated parmesan cheese for garnish

Directions:

1) Pre-heat the oven to 400 degrees.

2) Cut squash in half and scrap out seeds and stringiness. Salt and roast flesh side up on a baking sheet for about 30 minutes or until the flesh gets slightly brown and you can easily puncture it with a fork.

3) While the squash is cooling, sauté the onion and sausage in the olive oil on medium high heat in a large skillet.

4) When the squash can be touched use a fork to scrap loose it's stringy flesh.

5) Add squash, along with red pepper flakes, nutmeg, and parsley to the sausage and onions in the skillet. Mix and add more olive oil if the squash needs more sauce. 

6) Garnish individual servings with parmesan cheese. 






Foodie Friday Features:


From: This Gal Cooks

 Quinoa Patties
Mexican Style Quinoa Patties

Fritters, patties must have been in the mass consciousness last week because Julie made these outrageously healthy quinoa patties, so yummy made with black beans, cheese and spices.



From: Skinny Kitchen

Fish & Chips
Skinny Fish & Chips

Nancy has so many tricks to make this English Pub favorite lower in fat and calories...yet still delicious.


From: Something Sweet

Hamantashan
Hamantashan

Winnie makes the greatest desserts and this traditional Jewish cookie brings back fond memories of when I taught at a Yeshiva... during Purim the kids would dress up and we would eat Hamantashan.



From: 21st Century Housewife

tea cup with pudding
Turkish Delight

Not only is this dessert delicious the story around April's teacup collection is delicious too...



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21.2.13

Cheating on Winter Pea Soup: French Fridays with Dorie

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pea soup


It seemed like such a simple soup. Boil up some peas and romaine lettuce...puree and dinner. Perfect for a light Sunday night meal with just my son and husband...or so I thought. Everything was fine until I started to puree the soup with the immersion blender...SPARKS began to fly, and it wasn't romance, it was the FUSE and the immersion blender blown. My hands are still shaking from the shock of the blender blowing out.

The shock jolted my memory. I read an article not to long ago in the New York Times about the dangers of immersion blenders, primarily because people forget to unplug them before they untangle food that is caught in the bland.

I had cut the romaine into fairly small pieces, but I guess because it is stringy, a piece got stuck on the blade. I didn't even get a chance to risk cutting off a finger removing the tangled piece of lettuce instead I almost got electrocuted. 


Moral of the story: DO NOT USE AN IMMERSION BLENDER WITH STRINGY VEGETABLES: lettuce, asparagus,  swiss chard...etc.

To top it off I wasn't that impressed with the flavor of the soup. I was concerned from reading the ingredients that it was going to be too green, too sweet... it didn't have a grounding flavor to it, so I fried the bacon that was recommended for a garnish in the pot and left the fat. 

It wasn't enough. I ended up pureeing the bacon bits into the soup using a regular blender...which Dorie had recommended in the first place.

But the soup still didn't excite me, so I liquored it up with 2 teaspoons of vermouth, but it still wouldn't yield enough flavor.

The addition of the bacon and the vermouth helped to give the soup a base and made it pleasant enough... I can't help but wonder if a recipe with maybe mint or a citrus might have worked better to add a little flair to such a light soup.

I reference a few recipes that I thought looked interesting. This recipe has basil oil...hmm. Spring Pea Soup and garlic and heavy cream to ground it.
This one has mint, and in other ways it is very similar to Dorie's recipe: Spring Pea Soup This recipe Pea Soup with Creme Fraiche  adds a potato. That might have given it a rich texture. PS: Dorie seems to like watery soup. I remembered last time to use 2 less cups than she recommends. 

What are your thoughts?


Note: As a member of French Friday's with Dorie I am not allowed to print the recipe. I invite you to take a look at this wonderful cookbook "Around My French Table" if you are interested in this or any other recipe I review. 

 










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20.2.13

What Kids Learn from Dinner Conversation: Simple Living in Practice

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family eating


When my son was 9 years old and in the 4th grade he had to go through a series of psychological and intelligence test in order to identify a learning disability. When the school psychologist reviewed the tests with us one of the first things he noted about our son was the depth of his general knowledge.

The psychologist said, "There wasn't a topic I asked your son about that he wasn't familiar with, from subjects as diverse as patents to who was Gandhi." 

It dawned on me that both of the topics he gave as examples we had talked about at dinner. My husband and I have never limited our dinner conversation to kid only topics. We will discuss science, politics, current events, etc... and the kids usually ask questions about what we are talking about... and we explain. We don't brush them off, and we never assume that they can't understand. Of course there are levels of understanding, but as our son surprised his school's psychologist... you never know how much they may actually learn just from dinner conversation.


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modivation monday


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18.2.13

A Smear on Cream Cheese: French Fridays with Dorie

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Bagel Cream Cheese


I eat bagels and cream cheese about twice a year when friends come to visit us from New York City. There isn't a better comfort food than a freshly made bagel smothered in cream cheese.  But that is where I stop with both bagels and cream cheese. They are definitely once in a Blue Moon kinds of foods.

Why? Well, bagels are a really dense high calorie, carbohydrate and high glycemic food... but the real culprit of this duet is the cream cheese.

Cream cheese is basically a lump of fat with a pinch of protein... 
Below illustrates the percentage of cream cheese's calories that are fat and the tiny amount that is protein. I think because there is "cheese" in the name people are under the impression that cream cheese is nutritious.


Source: http://caloriecount.about.com/calories-cream-cheese-i1017

I can't tell you how many times friends have given me, most especially Mexican, recipes and there is close to a pound of cream cheese in the recipe. Many times I have made the dish minus the cream cheese and it has been delicious, plus it didn't sit in my stomach like a brick from the addition 1338 calories. How cream cheese got into Mexican food is a mystery to me? It is definitely not traditional to their cooking. There actually isn't a ton of cheese in general in Mexican cuisine

What about lite cream cheese? Well, it has less calories and fat, but it still lacks nutritional value. Yogurt or cottage cheese are better substitutes. 


Cream cheese is basically a nutritionally void food.... so, reserve it for the occasional bagel and for dessert making. It really is a good product for baking, and you aren't trying to get nutrition out of a slice of cheese cake... are you? 


Weekly Menu Plan:


Sunday: Cheating on Winter Pea Soup with my husband's rustic homemade bread

Meatless Monday: Corzetti with Green Ricotta

Tuesday: Sautéed Rutabagas with Chiles, Mint & Maple with Pork and Swiss Chard

Wednesday: Out of the freezer: Zucchini & Fontina Quiche

Thursday: leftovers


Saturday: Winter Gala Dinner Out


menu plan monday






15.2.13

Millet Fritters: Foodie Friday

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millet fritters


Fritters are a thrifty and delicious thing to make with leftover grains. Millet, rice, barley, potatoes pretty much anything starchy mixed with an egg and whatever leftover vegetables you have on hand, and Voila... you have a healthy vegetarian lunch or dinner.

These millet fritters were born from leftover millet from making my Moroccan Stuffed Peppers and leftover vegetables from my Maple-Sugared Squash & Brussels Sprouts. 


Millet Fritters
Millet Fritters


Millet Fritters

by Diane Balch
simplelivingeating.com

preparation: 5 minutes                                         Serves: 4

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons of olive oil
1 egg beaten
1 cup of cooked millet
1/2 of leftover roasted vegetables (I used squash and brussels sprouts.)
1 teaspoon of fresh chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste


Directions:

1) Heat olive oil in a large skillet, cast-iron is best, to medium high heat. 

2) Mix all the ingredients together. If the millet is leftover make sure you smooth out any chunks.

3) Make tightly packed patties. Approximately 2 tablespoons of mixture per patty.

4) Fry until golden brown about 5 minutes per side.

5) Garnish with sour cream or plain Greek yogurt.




Foodie Friday Features:


From: The Cookbook Project

Chinese New Year dumplings
Chinese New Year 
I've always found cooking Chinese food daunting. This cookbook: Quick and Easy Chinese sounds like a really good place to start learning this wonderful cuisine. 


From: Food Done Light

Northern Bean & Cremini Mushroom Stew
Northern Bean & Cremini Mushroom Stew
This stew is a perfect example of how hearty cooking can be healthy. Mushrooms make a great substitute for meat.

From: The Redhead Riter


Cranberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze
Cranberry Lemon Cake with Lemon Glaze
The tartness of lemon and cranberry just wakes me up and makes me bright in the winter.



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