Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Lemony Caesar Salad with Roasted Chicken

I worked for a few years at a 'fancy' restaurant where we did table side Caesar salads.  I loathed when someone ordered one but also prided myself on making a pretty good one.....at least it was how I like my caesar - garlicly, lemony with just the right amount of cheese and anchovy.  There are some decent store bought dressing you can get now.  I would recommend the ones out of the refrigerator section of the store and check the ingredients making sure they don't contain gluten, sugars or bad oils and preservatives.. 

Every time I make this meal I am reminded how much my family likes it and wonder why I don't make it more often.  The kids happily eat mountains of salad, always asking for seconds.  I always roast a whole chicken at a time (unless we are BBQing some parts) so there is always some good left overs for sammys the next day.

I have already posted about the perfect roast chicken and I assume you know how to wash and dry some romaine lettuce so on to the dressing

Caesar Dressing
1 egg yolk
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ tsp salt
¼ tsp ground black pepper or more to taste
1 small clove of fresh garlic, finely minced
1 tsp anchovy paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan

In your large salad bowl combine using a whisk the egg yolk, dijon, garlic,anchovy paste, Worcestershire sauce, and lemon juice together until well combined.  Add in the salt and pepper.  Then add the olive oil in a slow steady stream, whisking vigorously until the dressing
has thickened and gotten 'creamy'.  Add in your clean, dry lettuce green and evenly coat them with the dressing. Finish by tossing in your grated cheese and some crisp bacon bits.

Sunday, 29 July 2012

Weekend Breakfast of Poached Eggs in a basket

One of the things I am really enjoying with the kids being on summer holiday is that every morning is an opportunity for a weekend-like breakfast.  No rushing to get dressed, no gulping down breakfast and rushing down to the school.  Now we lounge in jammies a bit longer and cook a big hot breakfast.  Some days it is a fruit- or nut- or fruit and nut-filled oatmeal, sometimes it is a frittata, pancakes, waffles or eggs in a basket.

The kids love the silliness of this dish. Giggling about the name....dipping it all in ketchup.

I posted about breakfast potato/Rosti in the past.  These are no different just smaller and stacked on top of each other.  I was also out of unflavoured coconut oil so I used a blend of olive oil and butter.  It worked just as well.

There is a rumour that poaching eggs is hard but it is remarkably easy.  In fact one of the easiest, quickest, and lowest calorie ways of preparing eggs.  Poaching them so the yolk is nice and runny also preserves all the health benefits that eggs offer

You need:
Fresh eggs,  fresh eggs will be easier to poach (they'll hold together better) than older eggs.
1 to 2 tsp of vinegar (rice wine vinegar works well) optional
  1. In a shallow pan bring water to almost boiling. If the water is already boiling, lower the heat until it is no longer boiling. At this point, you can add one or two teaspoons of vinegar to the water, if you want. The vinegar will help the egg whites to congeal more easily. I use seasoned rice vinegar.
  2. Working with the eggs one by one, crack an egg into a small cup, then place the cup near the surface of the hot water and gently drop the egg into the water. With a spoon, nudge the egg whites closer to their yolks. This will help the egg whites hold together.
  3. Turn off the heat. Cover. Let sit for 4 minutes, until the egg whites are cooked.
  4.  Lift eggs out of pan with a slotted spoon.
One trick to make the eggs stay somewhat contained is to take a ring from a mason jar and place it in the pan. Drop the egg over the mason jar ring and let it settle in the ring, then turn off the heat and cover. Remove ring and lift out with slotted spoon

Friday, 27 July 2012

57 Momths

Dear Twinnies

Not a good month, not a great summer.......pictures tell the story better than I could

It started out great with an easy fun drive down to our house in North Carolina 

Everyone traveled so well.  I had packed lots of snacks, we had the car DVD player hooked up and 3/4 of the way through day one I let you guys start using the regular across the shoulder seat belt instead of the 5 point harness.  You guys have been big enough for this for a long time but for safety reason I kept you in long.  What made this so uncomfortable for you guys was that you are both pretty tall for your age making the height of the shoulder straps low.  This meant the straps were not only hold you to the chair but also pulling you down into the seat.  I got the idea when Bea complained that her bum hurt.....and I am not surprised.  You guys loved the freedom of the 'new seltbelts'.  Now you could turn and look out the back of the car, re-adjust how you were sitting on your bum and reach forward to grab book or games out of the back of the seat pocket.  With you guys so happy we decided to make as much time as possible stopping only a couple of hours from the house.  We were also forced to do this by huge areas of Virginia being in complete black out.  A huge storm had rolled through the area a couple of days before our departure date.  What hotels were open were jammed full of locals while many were closed with no power. Thank goodness you guys were traveling so well!!

We arrived before lunch the next day, giving us a full day more of holiday!  The next morning I got to sleep in.  Big Daddy had taken you guys out in the woods behind the house and my mom had made sure everyone was fed.  It was beautiful hot weather and we had almost 3 weeks to enjoy it.

Two days later we were in the local emergency room with 'some of the worst poison ivy' the doctors had ever seen.  Big Daddy was put on heavy steroids.  He was having such an intense allergic reaction (he is really allergic to poison ivy) that I knew this was the time for emergency medicine.  This picture was taken at the hospital....it only got worse over the next week

His legs and feet swelled up so badly that he couldn't walk.  He spent the next week of our much anticipated holiday stuck in bed.  I tried to keep you guys occupied but our family holiday only went down hill.  It started to rain, everyday.

In the end we decided to leave early. Big Daddy wanted to heal at home and I knew I would have a better time keeping you guys busy at home. We waited for Big Daddy's legs to heal enough for him to be comfortable to drive home.
A grumpy fairy, the day after our return

10 days of healing before we could drive home

We did a lot of swimming but not until Gabe's delayed poison ivy outbreak cleared up.  It didn't come up until after we got home, more than 2 weeks after your initial exposure.  We are still completely confused by this.  The obvious conclusion is that you got a secondary exposure for clothing or from Gertie but why would you have such a terrible reaction to a secondary exposure but no reaction from the initial walk in the woods?
All over your face
And on your legs

It was not a good month......I hope it wasn't as awful for you

Saturday, 21 July 2012

French Kitchen Presents

One of the nice things about this past holiday - and there were only a few - was seeing my parents after a long stretch in-between visits because of their 5 week tour through France and parts of England (life is rough eh?).  We usually see my mom once a month or at least by 6 weeks.  This was the longest stretch we have gone since the twins were born and we all missed our Grammy and Papa.

My mom (Grammy) has always been one for 'prezzies'.  No matter what she is doing she is always picking up little things for people. Every time we see her she has a little stash of gifts and her European vacation was no different.

I have always poo-pooed most kitchen gadgets as the tools of the unskilled.  It always seemed to me that the less someone knows how to handle themselves in the kitchen the more 'tools' they seem to think they need to get anything done. ie. An egg slicer or garlic press instead of a sharp knife...poo poo I say...poo poo!

Now mom got me a couple of gadgets....and only because they are 'French' I will forgive the silliness of them....I may even use them a couple of times

These are super scissors.  They have 5 'scissors' or sets of blades.  They are for snipping herby things.  They also come with their very own matching nit comb....for extracting chive nits and such.

This is an egg shaped egg timer....but not a typical egg shaped egg timer like the one I was using for timing 'turn taking' with the kids that eventually stopped working due to too intense toddler wind up.  This funny little device gets put in the water with your boiling eggs and indicates the 'doneness' of the egg by turning green.  Is my egg 'a la coque', 'mollet' or 'dur'?  Now I will finally know.....

She also got me some classy salt.  I love classy salt and this is prolly my favourite prezzie of them all.  It is pretty and sparkles in the sun and it's.......pretty....

Thursday, 19 July 2012

When vacations aren't a vacation

Our family holiday officially went to hell.... It was all too good to be true. Friends coming to stay, two sets of grandparents, cousins galore....too good to be true is right.... Slowly everyone started to cancel including one set of grandparents but we pushed ahead...looking forward to a relaxing holiday. Getting organized and ready to leave was pretty seamless. Even packing for 3 (Big Daddy can pack himself) went fairly smoothly. No the house wasn't as clean as we would've liked to have left it but oh well....we were on holiday! With house sitters and cat sitters all lined up we hit the road early Thursday morning. The kids were traveling like a dream!! No screaming, complaining or fussing about being trapped in the car. Everyone was in good spirits.

The first day of driving flew by and we got much further than we thought we would, probably thanks to leaving so early. Our second day would only be a few hours and we would be there by noon...just in time for lunch.

The area we were in was dealing with a huge heat wave.  This is an area in the North Carolina mountains so it gets hot during the day but cools down to a really comfortable sleeping weather.  Not this year.  That first night I slept with the kids.  They were a little freaked out and Bea came down after about 15 minutes so I curled up with her. I 'accidentally' fell asleep.  The next morning I slept in.  I woke to the sound of the kids laughing, screen doors springing shut and the smell of coffee.  I slipped down stairs, grabbed a cup of coffee and sat on one of our wrap around porches.  Bea was playing with Papa and Big Daddy and Gabe were out behind the house trying to blaze a new trail on our property.  We had big plans for the day.  It was Coon Dog Day.  A local silly, but taken very seriously, day of celebration.  We were going with some cousins to the parade and then a good friend was arriving close to dinner time to stay with us for a week.  It was going to be a good day...and it was!  Dinner was a family affair with 4 generations of cousins, grandparents and friends.

The next morning Big Daddy and the visiting friend took the kids on a hike while I ran some grocery errands with my parents.  It was during this hike that Big Daddy become aware that he had probably been exposed to poison ivy.  By the end of the day we knew there was a problem.  The next day we were at the hospital.

These are all blisters.  Blisters that were leaking so badly it was creating puddles on the floor.  During the 4 hours wait in an almost dead hospital ER this had spread up one arm and on to his ribs.  And it just kept getting worse - by the next morning his legs up to mid thigh had swollen so badly that he couldn't bend his knees.  The doctors on duty said it was the worse they had ever seen. He was prescribed a heavy dose of steroids.  21 days worth of them.  He was also pretty much stuck in bed, for what we were warned, the rest of our vacation.  This all happened within the first 3 days of our holiday, the same day the heat wave broke and rain clouds rolled in for what was forecast as heavy thunder showers for the next 10 days.

We are home now, many days early so we could heal and recoop and maybe try again later in the summer for a real family vacation....one that we can relax for...but knowing my life...I'm not counting on anything ever going that smoothly.

Monday, 9 July 2012

Fennel and Orange Salad

Please excuse my delay in posting - I am on holiday.....like a 'real' holiday with no wi-fi. Luckily we are still cooking and eating and taking pictures...or as they say in the South (where I am) "cookin' n' eatin' n' picture takin'". I am now in a small town library editin' photos and doin' a little writin' but mostly enjoyin' the A/C....we is havin' a heat wave here!!

I guess I am doing a series on salads.  I haven't really committed to it in my head (or heart) and yet I keep making salads and posting them.....so here I am....doin' a series!!.....

I do think it is important to put a salad of some kind on the dinner table with every meal.  It is easier if some of the basic ingredients are prepped a week at a time.  I always have a tub of washed green in the fridge (I wash them when I cut them out of the garden) so I can throw something simple together if I haven't had time to think of something creative. There is always my ol'stand-by favourite salad.  It is too easy to not make and is always a hit around here.

This is another one of those so simple it's stupid kinda salads.

6 cups of mix greens, washed and dry
1/2 fennel bulb, very thinly slice
1 orange, segmented
1/4 cup red onion, thinly sliced


1/2 cup orange juice
1/4 cup rice wine vinegar
1/3 cup olive oil
sat and pepper
1 tbsp honey

Whisk ingredients together and toss in the salad.  Best served with a lightly flavoured (white) fish

Monday, 2 July 2012

Quinoa with cranberries, nuts and seeds

Still trying to eat ourselves out of house and home and I continue to clean out the cupboards.  It is amazing the crazy stuff you come up with when you are determined to not buy more. Yes I have had to make more nut milk and there have been the few things we had to get more of (ie. eggs) but for the most part we have been eating the pantry bare.....as smart as it is, it makes me dread the grocery shop we are going to have to do when we get back.......but I won't think about that now.....

1 cup white quinoa, rinsed
2 cups chicken stock
1 can chickpea, drained and rinsed
1/2 english cucumber, sliced into 1/4 rounds
1/3 cup dried cranberries
1/4 sliced almonds, toasted
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, toasted
1/4 cup red onion, minced
a handful of parsley, minced

1/4 to 1/2 cup of salad dressing

Always rinse quinoa.  It takes away the bitter metallic taste it can have.  Put the quinoa in a pot with the chicken stock and bring to a boil.  Let boil for 10 minutes and then take off the heat.  Let sit for 5 minutes and then fluff with a fork.  Let cool to room temperature.

Once cool toss with the chick peas, cucumber, cranberries, almonds, pumpkin seeds, onion and parsley. Add dressing just before serving.

We ate this with Koftas made similar to the last time but this time I mixed ground beef and pork and didn't include the rice (no leftovers to use).  I did include the minted yogurt again...we seem to have this around all the time now and are enjoying it with every meal