Category Archives: Food & Cooking

Dessert for Dinner… Bad

Dinner turned out to be something completely different than anticipated today. My fault really. The first mistake was thinking Sean would be home much sooner than he was; my second mistake was thinking these apples would take an hour.

The meal plan was grilled pork chops with a side of baby bok choy, and dessert would be these tasty looking baked apples I recently found in a cookbook. We don’t normally have dessert, but I have been thinking about these apples for days so I wanted to try it out.

My vision was that I would prepare the apples and Sean would be home about the time I put them in the oven, then I could start dinner and the apples would be done about the time we finished eating. How it actually turned out was that I was pulling the apples out of the oven as Sean walked in the door.

These apples are best eaten hot, so I decided to just go ahead and eat an apple then cook the pork. Ugh. Apparently we are too old to eat a mound of apples, sugar, and ice cream for dinner. We just finished and now we are both too full to even think about dinner. I feel kind of sick actually. But it was damned tasty!

I think I will make these again, but next time it will only be one apple for the both of us to share. And it will be cooked after dinner.

Recipe Info: Cinnamon Apples, from Le Creuset’s ‘Mini-Cocotte’ cookbook. Golden delicious apples are cored, then filled with a mixture of brown sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg before baking. More of the sugar & spice mixture is simmered with maple syrup, which is then spooned over the baked apples before serving.

Fast, Fresh & Green

This is my new favorite cookbook, written by Susan Middleton. If you are bored with your sides, or just love veggies, I highly recommend it. This book is the reason I have been excited to come home and cook dinner the past week!

So far we have tried three recipes, two of which were completely awesome. The third was good, but nothing special. The two awesome recipes? “Quick Braised Green Beans with Pomegranate-Balsamic Pan Sauce” and “Cider Braised Baby Bok Choy and Golden Apples” … not short titles, but descriptive I suppose. You would think with titles like that the dishes would be complicated and time consuming, but they really aren’t.

The bok choy is currently my favorite dish in our repertoire. I am honestly considering making it as a meal for myself the next time I have to cook for one!

Both of these dishes have made great use of our stainless steel saute pan, which is another bonus considering it hasn’t gotten much use since we acquired the Le Creuset dutch oven.

Since this book is still in print (and I like supporting those that deserve it) I will not put any of the recipes out on the web, but I will gladly share a few if you ask nice. :)

Grilled Peaches

Earlier in the summer I happened upon a seasoning pack for grilled peaches. The ingredients sounded tasty so I picked it up, stashed it in the pantry, and promptly forgot about it. Weeks later we were grocery shopping when I found some peaches that looked so perfect I just had to buy them.

A couple nights later I decided I would try out that seasoning packet, and serve them with some frozen yogurt we happened to have in the freezer. Sean was doubtful when I told him I wanted to grill peaches, but decided to humor me like a good husband. He of course absolutely loved it though, and called it a perfect summer dessert.

The peaches turned out great! So great in fact that I decided to look for other sauces/spices for them that I didn’t have to buy pre-mixed. It wasn’t long before we discovered exactly how tasty rum can be with a bit of butter and brown sugar. After looking at several recipes for inspiration, I came up with the recipe below. There is still plenty of room to play with it, and it might still evolve a bit more.

Unfortunately, the last couple peaches we have picked up haven’t been very good. I suppose we will have to wait until next summer to find peaches as succulent as the ones we had in July. This recipe is definitely going in our summer recipes book though!

Recipe:

Ingredients: 2-3 ripe peaches, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1/2 cup each of dark rum, unsalted butter, and brown sugar (you can also add a bit of cumin and cardamom if you want)

  1. Pour rum into a small sauce pan along with butter, heat over medium heat
  2. When butter has melted, add brown sugar
  3. Simmer for a few minutes, until mixture becomes a bit syrupy then remove from heat and let cool a little
  4. Halve peaches and remove pit, then place in a container and pour sauce over peaches; leave sitting to marinate for an hour or so (i.e. while you cook and eat dinner)
  5. Grill, cut side down, until peaches are soft and the skin begins to curl up a bit along the edge. You can then easily pull the peach skin off, or leave it on if you don’t mind it. Serve with vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

What’s Cooking

All summer we have pretty much been grilling out every chance the weather allows. And the weather has cooperated most days. Grilling is awesome and we had tons of tasty, healthy meals. However, eventually that put us into a bit of a cooking rut… which lead to us getting bored… which lead to eating out more often… which eventually lead to getting tired of eating out. It is an endless cycle really.

I have been inspired to start cooking again, so I have been looking for new recipes to try out. Maybe I will post a bit about what we are doing for dinner, although that is probably only interesting to me. Maybe I should add a different blog for that. I am excited to try new recipes! I love cooking, and this adds a bit of adventure.

Right now I am heading out to pick up some mini cocotte pots. I want Le Creuset really, but they are crazy expensive. $60 for an 8oz pot?? No thanks. And that is the “sale” price, the suggested price is $80. So I am going with Staub instead; they have a set of 3 that works out to be half the price.

This will also be a good chance to compare Staub with Le Creuset I guess. They seem to be the PC & Mac of the enameled cast iron cooking world. I got a Le Creuset dutch oven last month and it is now my most favorite pot; it doesn’t leave the stovetop. My other most favorite is my All Clad stainless saute & simmer pan. They are for different cooking purposes, so I think I am allowed two favorites.

Well, I am off to the mall before they close! I hope they have what I want in stock.

Happy Pancake Day

We have been trying to get into the “spirit of the season” lately. Somehow it is hard this year. But, last weekend, we finally started our Christmas shopping. While we were at Crate & Barrel we picked up a couple fun-looking pancake molds, as well as some batter mix and syrup. We had been itching to try them out ever since, so we decided that today was Happy Pancake Day!

We truly expected it to really be Pancake Fail Day though, as we had our doubts about the molds, as well as about mix bought from a home goods store. There was a little trial and error at first, but we got the hang of it pretty quickly. We had one failed snowflake, and one slightly malformed snowman… but the rest turned out alright. The mix and syrup were surprisingly good; I think that is our new favorite syrup. And, somehow, the fun shapes seemed to make the pancakes taste even better! I want to scout out more fun pancake molds now. Maybe every Saturday can be Happy Pancake Day from now on.

After a yummy pancake breakfast it was time to go get a Christmas tree, which we had been putting for weeks. We first tried Lowes since they were nearby, but the selection was terrible and the trees were dry and squished from lying in a pile. Our second try was more successful, and we found several good candidates at the lot by Kohl’s in Brier Creek. After a short debate we finally selected what looked to be a good tree, and the tree people quickly lashed it to the car.

When we got the tree home and in the stand we quickly learned that trees look a lot larger once they are in your house. I think I recall a similar lesson with a TV. So, the place we had selected near the fireplace didn’t really work out… it ended up in the dining room. It isn’t the ideal location for a tree, but it fits and it is only for a few weeks. After quickly cleaning up the trail of pine needles that lead from one corner of the house to the other, it was once again time to head out.

We met several friends (that also happen to be guild mates) at Brixx for dinner, and then headed to Frankie’s. It was a lot of fun to watch the braver people ride go carts in 38 degree weather, although Sean and I weren’t about to do it! There were three kids in the group, the youngest of which was a three year old girl. It was so funny to watch her go round (two seater carts) because her head wasn’t even above the wheel. When they went past you could only see a tiny set of hands holding onto the steering wheel.

It wasn’t long before we headed back inside where it was warm. We had a lot of fun playing games and somehow ended up winning a lot of tickets at skee ball. Since we don’t really care much about tickets we gave them to the kids… it was fun to see them so happy about getting tickets. It made me recall the days when I would hang out in the arcade, collecting my tickets and gazing longingly at a shiny glass case full of prizes… but never having enough tickets for anything more exciting than chinese fingercuffs or a bouncy ball.

After Frankie’s Sean and I headed back home for a nice mug of hot cocoa while we decorated the tree. We haven’t quite finished the tree though, so no pictures yet. It just looks like it is missing something, but we are too tired to care about it right now. We decided to find some garland we don’t hate tomorrow… for now we are going to head to bed. We feel so old to be this tired at 10pm!