Tuesday, October 23, 2012

He's here!

I am pleased to introduce the reason for my absence from the blogosphere: our son, Tyler Jonathan. 

He arrived October 9, 2012, at 5:40 pm. He was 8 pounds 15 ounces, 21 inches long. 

At his one week check-up, he had already surpassed his birth weight. 

We are all doing great, sleep deprived of course, but doing great. I did not get the natural childbirth I was hoping for (though not for lack of trying - I was in labor for about 16 hours before we decided to go with a cesarean) but in the end, all that really matters is that mom and baby come out healthy. 

Needless to say, I have not been doing much cooking. We have been blessed with family and friends who have brought us lots of delicious meals. We've received a stash of Dream Dinners, Papa Murphy's Take-n-Bake pizza, homemade casseroles, and pasta dishes, including a great Chicken Tetrazzini recipe by Giada De Laurentiis. It was prepared up through the second to last step, so all we had to do was transfer the contents to a baking dish, top with bread crumbs and bake. 

I'm hoping to get back to cooking and blogging soon, but meanwhile, I'm going to relax and enjoy my new little bundle. 

I am so excited for him to start using the Very Hungry Caterpillar / Eric Carle themed nursery I set up for him as well!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Gordon Ramsay's Perfect Scrambled Eggs

I love eggs for breakfast, but on the weekdays, the most I ever have time for is a couple of quick plain scrambled eggs. Weekends however, are a different story. These eggs are great for when you have more time or want to make it a bit more special. Joe made them for me to celebrate my first ever Mother's Day; I even got to have them in bed! 

Since then we've made them several more times, including just the other night for dinner. We've never tried doubling the recipe for the eggs, we just make the first batch and keep it in a warm oven while we cook the second batch. Or in this case, I took my photos of the first batch while he cooked his. 

We learned about this recipe by stumbling upon a video of him making it:

My eggs are a little more cooked than his. That's partly because I'm not eating under-cooked eggs these days since I'm pregnant, and also because that's just how I prefer my eggs. I grew up eating what would be considered very over-done eggs. Over the years I've grown accustomed to softer eggs but by culinary standards they are probably still over-cooked. I still thought mine were very creamy and delicious though, especially with the addition of the creme fraiche at the end. 

Gordon Ramsay's Perfect Scrambled Eggs
adapted from Gordon Ramsay
makes 1 generous portion (or enough for two small portions)

1 generous tablespoon unsalted butter
3 eggs
1/2 tablespoon creme fraiche
1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh chives
Thick slice of crusty sourdough bread
Olive oil
4-5 small tomatoes, on the vine if possible, cherry tomatoes would work as well
2-4 flat-capped or cremini mushrooms
salt and freshly ground black pepper

Heat a small skillet over medium/low heat. Drizzle with some olive oil, about 1/2 tablespoon or so, and when hot, add the mushrooms and tomatoes to the pan. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Let the vegetables cook while you make the eggs, shaking the pan once or twice. 

Toast the bread, set aside. 

Crack the eggs into a small pot, add the butter. Set the pot over medium heat and immediately begin stirring the eggs together with a spatula. Once the eggs just start to come together, move the pot off the heat, for 20-30 seconds, then move it back onto the heat, but don't stop stirring. Continue moving the pot off the heat and back on the heat, stirring constantly, until the eggs are cooked enough for you. He likes them on the creamier side. 

To stop the cooking process, off the heat, stir in the creme fraiche. Season with salt, pepper, and fold in the chives. 

To serve, drizzle the toast with a little olive oil (we almost always forget this step!) and pile the eggs on top. Arrange the mushrooms and tomatoes next to the eggs. 

Best when someone else makes it for you and "gives it to you in bed"!

Monday, July 9, 2012

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes

Whether you are trying to buy less meat in general or you have some leftover ground beef and are wondering what to do with it, this is a great recipe for you. It's a full 4 servings of sloppy joes but it only uses about 1/2 pound ground beef. Shredded carrots and kidney beans add bulk to the mixture, saving you both money and calories without sacrificing flavor.

In other news, I really am trying to post more often, but there has been a ton going on! My sister is getting married soon, I am now 6 1/2 months pregnant, and now we're MOVING to the Seattle area in August! Big changes and lots to do. We've found a place to rent up there and we've started purging and selling tons of stuff we've accumulated over the years in anticipation of the move. It's a nesting pregnant woman's dream, seriously.

We've been cooking a lot of easy meals lately, including a few that involved Tasty Bites. Have you ever heard of these? They are two-serving packets of pre-cooked Indian food for quick, easy meals. I tried them because they were on sale at the Co-op. You can also just buy sauce packets, where you provide the meat and veggies and cook them in the sauce. For the entrees/side dish packets, you can cook them in the microwave or in a pot of boiling water on the stove. What I like about these products is that the ingredient list is very short, and it's all real food and spices, no weird additives or preservatives. These would be great to take on a camping trip too.

Almost Meatless Sloppy Joes
adapted from Cooking Light / Mark Bittman - May 2010 issue
serves 4

Note: The recipe calls for 6 ounces of ground sirloin, but whenever I make it, I'm trying to finish up the other half of a 1 pound package, so I use 8 ounces in my version. You could definitely go to the meat counter at your grocery store and just buy 6 ounces though.

2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup finely chopped white onion
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
6-8 ounces ground sirloin
1/2 cup grated carrot (press out moisture with paper towels if freshly grating it yourself)
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups canned crushed tomatoes, fire-roasted if available
1 (15.5-ounce) can low sodium red kidney beans, rinsed, drained, and divided
4 (2-ounce) whole wheat sandwich rolls, split and toasted
Thinly sliced red onions, separated into rings

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic, salt, pepper, and beef to the pan. Cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally to break up the beef, until the meat is browned and onion is tender (if using a ground beef that is not as lean as sirloin, you might want to start with less oil).

Add the carrot, and the remaining spices and cook for another two minutes. Add the tomatoes and bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium and cook for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the carrot is tender and the mixture has thickened.

Partially mash 1 cup of the beans in a bowl with a fork. Add the mashed beans plus the remaining whole beans to the pan and cook for another minute or two to heat through. Taste and season with more salt if needed.

Pile a big scoop of the meat mixture onto the bottom half of a toasted roll, add some onion slices, then finish with the top half of the roll. Serve immediately. 
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