Most of you probably know that I have a 2.5 year old son. I'd love to lie and say, "Oh, he just eats whatever we eat! Ha ha ha! I rule at parenting!" but the cold reality is that no matter what I cook for dinner, the little
turd angel begs for cheese. I know that, like most parents- I harbored asinine ideals about parenthood before I actually had a kid. "Oh, my kid is going to eat whatever I serve him because I'm only going to offer him HEALTHY CHOICES! Ohh, my superior parenting skills are going to prevent my kid from having tantrums!" etc.- of course, now that I'm in the thick of the "terrible twos" (whatever dude, newborns suck so much more than toddlers- give me a 2 year old over a caterwauling 2 month old any day of the week, thanks) I fully understand how stupid I was being. Duh, my son is a human being. A human being who wants to survive solely off of cheese and Trader Joe's honey whole wheat pretzels. ("Cratzels!")
So, imagine my delight when I came upon the realization that I could combine 2 of my son's favorite things- dairy products, and Shrek- and convince him to devour MONSTER NOODLEEEESSSSSSSSS. It's just noodles with pesto, duh- but you'd think I laced it with crack rocks, the way he gobbles it down. The only way I could get a better reception is if I gave him a heaping plate of noodles drenched in butter and parmesan cheese- but we reserve that for special occasions. (like when I don't feel like cooking real food.) Anyway, now my kid loves monster noodles and I really like pesto, so it works out for everyone. Plus I am stoked when he eats it because I add spinach to my pesto, (an absolute abomination, according to some, but what the hell ever!) so it's basically one of the 2 green things he'll eat. (Sometimes he'll eat broccoli.)
Anyway, where was I going with this? Oh yeah, I wanted to make a point- I've flipped through those "sneaky chef" type books and I have to say- in general, I am not a fan of lying to kids. I'm not going to sneak blueberry puree into my son's brownies and pretend like they're healthy, in fact, the whole "puree" thing seems like a ridiculous ploy, to me. Teaching your kids to prefer babyfood-style, overcooked, mushy vegetables doesn't seem like a very good idea. But, that doesn't mean I'm not above sneaking in vegetables wherever I can. I don't do it to trick my family, I do it because they taste good and I want to be healthier!
Anyway, this simple dinner consisted of:
Half a package of spiral noodles
A few scoops of fresh pesto
Chopped vegetables- zucchini, summer squash, bell pepper, and tomato (added raw at the end) or whatever you can find in your fridge that sounds good
To make the pesto, just throw pretty much all of a package of fresh basil leaves, a large handful of spinach (SHUT UP, EMILY. IT'S GOOD FOR YOU. AND I LIKE SPINACH, OKAY?), a few handfuls of grated parmesan, 1 clove of garlic, a large handful of walnuts, and a huge glug of olive oil- all into a cuisinart (Thank you, wedding registry. It's been 4 years and every time I use all the awesome crap in my kitchen, I think to myself, "God, I love being married.") or blender. While blending, drizzle in olive oil until the consistency is smooth, and add salt & pepper to taste. You can spread it on sandwiches, throw it on noodles, dip veggies into it.
I like to either roast or lightly saute my chopped vegetables, then I just toss everything together in a large bowl. I add the pesto, throw in fresh chopped tomatoes, and then I inhale it while my son showers me with praise. He even ate a few of the vegetables, woo hoo!
I wish I could say I had tons of leftovers, but my husband came home from work late and inhaled the rest of the bowl. Luckily I still have some leftover pesto in the fridge.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
Monday, May 25, 2009
Tonight I had a pretty delicious combination of stuff laying around- brioche buns, freshly made pesto, heirloom tomatoes, avocado. The solution seemed pretty obvious.
Sorry my food blog has basically devolved into the occasional update of food porn, haha! I keep sitting here trying to think of something witty to say, but I've got nothing. Brain fried, y'all!
Sunday, May 17, 2009
This photo is just here to remind you that Ned Ludd still rocks my socks. We popped in for dinner for a second time last night, and I annihilated this trout stuffed with sorrel, lemon, and fennel. Jason had lamb, we shared cheeses, and I sipped on a glass of riesling from these guys, because my inner geek cried out to me when I saw the name on the wine list.
On another note, STAR TREK WAS AWESOME, NO JOKE.
Friday, May 15, 2009
If it seems like I've been absent- well, I have. I've mostly been hard at work, drawing like a madwoman whenever I get the chance (for instance, right now my son is conked out on the living room floor after a particularly raucous morning at the park- so as soon as I'm done here, I'm heading straight to my "desk" - the dining room table.) for my other blog, 10 dollar drawings. I'm amazed and super psyched on how well it's taken off- it seems I've been a steady 20 drawings deep on my list ever since I started at the end of February. That's a LOT OF DRAWING, GUYS. That doesn't mean I haven't been eating delicious food- far from it. It just means I've been eating some our old standbys, which doesn't make for very interesting blogging. I even come back to my own blog for recipes- haha! A few weeks ago, I made this cream of zucchini & leek soup and it was awesome! I even froze some and saved it, which was great for the cold I battled all this week.
Last night, my husband made an awesome meat loaf, something I normally would have jumped on to blog- but I was out shooting a feature for my friend Lisa at Pigeon Toe Ceramics. Keep an eye out for a studio tour in the next coming weeks, my photographs will be featured. It was so rad to get a peek at how each piece is handcrafted, it really takes a lot of time! Anyway, when I got home, my husband was just wrapping up my dinner to pop in the fridge, so I wolfed it down without even looking at it. Then, at lunch time today, I realized I had a hunk of meat loaf leftover, so I had to eat it. First, I sliced 3 thin pieces, and fried them in some olive oil until they got brown and crispy on the sides. Then, I dumped a little bit of red sauce over the top and heated it up. Then, I just fried some bread in butter (what? IT'S DELICIOUS.) and then smushed the whole thing together, and it was ABSOLUTELY TRANSCENDENT. We like to use a combination of ground beef and pork sausage for our meat loaf, and we had a few pinches of fresh oregano from our buddy's garden, so it came out pretty delicious. SORRY IT LOOKS SO MUCH LIKE DOG FOOD.
Anyway, visit my other blog, keep yourself occupied. Check out Pigeon Toe Ceramics for some awesome handmade porcelain, and then eat some damn meat loaf.
Wednesday, May 6, 2009
I've been really lazy about putting this recipe up, so I'm forcing myself to do it before bed- if it's not now, it's never going to happen. It's nothing too exciting, but still sort of mind-blowing to a girl who grew up with the absolute knowledge that enchilada sauce comes from a can. I'm not on a diet, and I'm not 100% strict with my eating habits, but I am making a pretty decent effort to avoid nasty foods, (hydrogenated oils, refined shit, etc.) just for overall health reasons. That doesn't mean I'm not going to have a salt bagel when I go to work, but it does mean I'm reading labels even closer than I was before, and if it's something we can whip out in a few minutes, why not make it at home instead of buying a gnarly can of mystery liquid?
My husband gave me the recipe after we had dinner the other night, and I keep staring at what I've written down, thinking- "Really? That's it?" It seems so simple, but OKAY DUDES- here you go. You want to make some enchilada sauce from scratch? Here's what Jason did:
1/2 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 seeded & soaked California chilies. (they're the ones that are about 4 inches long. you can find them in the Mexican aisle at the grocery store.)
1 clove of garlic
2 tbsp (more or less) chili powder
cumin "to taste" (I'd say a tablespoon or so?)
a generous glug apple cider vinegar
1 can of tomato sauce
IMPORTANT EDIT!: my husband was just looking at this post and said, "Oh hey, you forgot to put down the corn starch." apparently it's pretty crucial for texture- just add about a tablespoon to the cuisinart and mix it in.
Seed dried chilies (it's easier to get the seeds out when they're dry) and soak in cool water until pliable. Combine all ingredients in food processor and taste periodically until, you know- it tastes like enchilada sauce. TA DAAAA. You made enchilada sauce. See? Now you understand why I keep second guessing myself and thinking I've forgotten something. This made about half a Classico jar of sauce, so like, 2 cups? A little less than 2 cups. It was enough for what we needed.
For the actual enchiladas, we just rolled up some corn tortillas with some grilled chicken that had been mixed up in a big bowl with cheese and the sauce, then topped them with more cheese and sauce, and baked them until the cheese got all melty. Jason went easy on the sauce because he was afraid he'd run out, but there was plenty, and I ended up just dumping all the leftover sauce on top of the uneaten enchiladas, to soak in for the next day. I was seriously blown away that this just tasted like enchilada sauce. I keep comparing it to what it must be like to taste homemade ketchup for the first time- which is seriously inspiring me to make some homemade ketchup. I'm on a roll, you guys. Homemade condiments? Why not?
Sunday, May 3, 2009
I know that some of you, people who have been reading since Summer & I first got this thing going, are probably jonesing for something sweet. Since I took over the blog, it's been pretty much devoid of confectionary treats, mostly because I don't eat much sugar, but more importantly, I don't really bake. It's hilarious, people are always asking me questions about baking that I can't answer- I'm just a photographer, guys! An enthusiast for sweets, at best. But, the other day I was chatting with one of my mom buddies, designerIvonne Carley, and she mentioned she was making SALTED CARAMEL CUPCAKES. I got the sweet tooth just looking at them. She lives in San Diego, so I didn't get a chance to taste one of these beauties, but she's sharing the recipe she used and these lovely photographs that she took. (You might remember Ivonne from her sugar skull post.)
photograph by Ivonne Carley
"I have never been a "baker". The truth is, I have always been a "from the box" kind of girl, 'cause I am always afraid I am gonna jack it all up. Baking is like gardening. It takes a lot of components to make something successful and- well, I suck at gardening. There is no bigger blow to the ego than failing in the kitchen, so I always bought the box and package stuff, 'cause success was important. The problem is I am a cake snob, I love me some baked goods and things from a box just never scratch that itch in a good way.
Lately I have been finding myself riding the ever-trendy cupcake train. Cupcakes are the new black in the baking world, and who can pass up the cute and tasty dudes all wrapped up in a little paper cup? I know I can't. On a mission for something better than The Box®, I have been trolling around for recipes online because I said I to myself, "You know Ivonne, this from-the-box shit is amateur! You need to make these babies from scratch." Then I found this recipe on The Brooklyn Kitchen: Beer Geek Chocolate Cupcakes with Salted Caramel. Chocolate? Beer? Carmel? SALT? I am not a beer lover (editor's note: I AM!!!) but I will never pass up on the chance to throw it in food. Heaven.
This recipe is a little labor-intensive, and a tad more complicated than just "mix and stir," but the end result is fantastic and worth the extra hoop jumping. I made a couple modifications to it and still had no problems.
1 cup flavorful dark beer - I used Young's Double Chocolate Stout for mine (ed's note: I'd probably go for the Laguniatas Imperial Stout, or- to keep things local, the Deschutes Obsidian Stout, a personal fave.)
1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa - I found a very good one at Whole Foods by a French company called Valrhona
2 cups dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons instant espresso powder - I used instant coffee cause honestly, I couldn't find the espresso whatnot. (ed's note again, haha- "espresso" is simply a method of preparing coffee, so any instant coffee should work just fine, or even some finely ground, high quality beans, if you have a grinder at home.)
3/4 cup sour cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups flour
2 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
The mixture will look more like brownie batter and will be pretty thick. I managed to make about 23 cupcakes with this batch but I like mine to have a dome on them, I am sure I could have squeezed out a couple more if i didn't want them to rise past the brim of the cup. One thing the recipe doesn't mention is that you bake them at 350ºf.
I made these for a birthday party and did everything the night before, decorating the day of the party so the frosting would hold up. I always jack up the frosting and it comes out too runny. This recipe is spot on for some really tasty frosting. Really, it's a bowl licker for sure. I found 4 cups of confectioners sugar was more than enough to get it nice and firm. Sifting the sugar in made all the difference from my last frosting-making debacle which ended up a runny-ass mess.
Frost, drizzle with some of the carmel, add some coarse sea salt on the top. I found these toffee covered espresso bits dipped in dark chocolate at Trader Joes and they make a cute little garnish.
The "from the box" girl in me is gooing herself over the fact I was able to make these babies from scratch. Not to toot my own horn but they rock.
I cannot take credit for this awesome recipe by any means, and it's a long one so if you are interested in the sweet & salty goodness, check out their site for the whole thing."
photograph by Ivonne Carley
Another note from the editor- in my new favorite book, Nina Planck details why cake mixes from a box are so effin' bad for you. In short, powdered eggs are an atrocity and can damage your body. I found it fascinating, because- like Ivonne, I've always gone for the powdered mix whenever I need a cake or whatever. I don't eat many cakes in the first place, so whenever it's a birthday or something, I just buy something cheap and throw it together. Since I've been reading this book, (studying it like a bible, more like) I've been inspired to stop being so damn lazy and actually put some love into my baking, so next time I have to make a bake (I'm guessing in September, for my son's birthday, haha) I'll definitely be going the "from scratch" route. In the meantime, enjoy this small offering of a sweet treat. Back to savory goodness tomorrow, when my husband makes a giant pan of enchiladas using homemade enchilada sauce. (WHAT?! To me, that's like making ketchup- I'm blown away that you can actually DO it, I don't know why.)