Going green. And red and white.

Day 2 of my increase-fruits-and-vegetable-intake experiment. I’ve learned that eating fresh means more prep time, but I am blessed with the two greatest kids in the world, so while I chopped green beans and peeled potatoes, they got everything ready for trash day and did their homework.

Then, while I was at a Girl Scouts meeting with Em, B took it upon himself to do the laundry.

Seriously. Best kids ever. They totally get a pass for trying only one bite of this meal. They both voted to top their pasta with spaghetti sauce instead.

Very good meal. Easy to make and great for lunch leftovers the next day!

BASIL VEGETABLE LINGUINE??????????

  • 8 ounces green beans, cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 8 ounces red-skinned new potatoes, peels and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 12 ounces dried linguine
  • 1 cup pesto (or less to taste)
  • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • 6 ripe plum tomatoes, cut into ¼-inch dice
  • ½ cup slivered fresh basil leaves

Bring saucepan of lightly salter water to boil. Add the green beans and quick until just tender, about 1 minute. Using a skimmer, remove them from the pot to a colander. Rinse under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Add the potatoes to the boiling water and cook until just tender, about 2 minutes. Drain the potatoes in a colander and run under cold water to stop the cooking. Drain, pat dry and set aside.

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the linguine and cook until just tender, about 8 minutes. Drain the pasta well and place in a serving bowl. Add the pesto and toss well. Season with pepper.

Sprinkle the green beans, potatoes and tomatoes over the linguine and top with the slivered basil. Serve immediately, tossing the pasta at the table.

Recipe courtesy of Celebrate! By Sheila Lukins

The jalapeno challenge — recipe No. 1

I spent four hours today making four jalapeno recipes for a photo shoot. Several of the people I interviewed for this story said this year’s crop will be hotter than previous years because of the drought.

The way my fingers are burning (#$%^!& seeds) makes me think I should have listened to them.

I’m soaking my fingers in a bowl of milk — Look at me, Mom! Blogging with one hand! — but it was worth it.

CILANTRO JALAPENO PESTO WITH LIME

  • 1 bunch fresh cilantro
  • 2 ½ tablespoons toasted pine nuts
  • ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 5 cloves garlic
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • ¼ fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded
  • ¼ cup grated Parmesan  cheese

Combine the cilantro, pine nuts, olive oil, garlic, lime juice, jalapeno pepper, and Parmesan cheese in a blender; pulse until the mixture reaches a soft, paste-like consistency.

Source: www.allrecipes.com

You say tomato, I say tomato

I bought a container of grape tomatoes a few days ago. I didn’t have a plan when I bought them. They were on sale, they looked good and I’m trying to develop a taste for tomatoes, so into the grocery cart they went.

Because I’m going out of town this weekend, it was now or never for the grape tomatoes. I whipped up this salad and had a nice lunch.

ORZO SALAD WITH TOMATOES, FETA AND DILL

  • 1 pound orzo
  • 1 pint grape or cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 cup pitted Kalamata olives, halved
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 3/4 cup loosely packed fresh dill, chopped
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tbsp red wine vinegar
  • 3/4 tsp kosher salt
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese

Cook the orzo according to the package directions; drain and run under cold water to cool.

In a large bowl, combine the tomatoes, olives, onion, dill, oil, vinegar, salt and pepper. Add the orzo and toss well. Gently fold in the feta.

Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 4 days.

Recipe courtesy of The Good Neighbor Cookbook

Is your pesto the besto?

I think that is my blog’s second Friends reference.

Only two in one year? I must be slipping.

Pesto is something I love, but have never made. For the longest time, it was because I didn’t have a food processor and you need that to make pesto. I purchased a mini food processor last fall, where it has sat in the pantry with many of the other kitchen appliances I purchase and rarely use.

They are a source of contention between me and my husband. He brings them up every time I get on him for refusing to throw things away. Well, I can’t let him be right, so I got out the food processor and made pesto last week. I then used it to make chicken pesto Panini with my Panini maker — another kitchen appliance I seldom use.

HOMEMADE BASIL PESTO

  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves, packed
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan-Reggiano or Romano cheese
  • 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts or walnuts
  • 3 medium-sized garlic cloves, minced
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Combine the basil in with the pine nuts, pulse a few times in a food processor. (If you are using walnuts instead of pine nuts and they are not already chopped, pulse them a few times first, before adding the basil.) Add the garlic, pulse a few times more.

Slowly add the olive oil in a constant stream while the food processor is on. Stop to scrape down the sides of the food processor with a rubber spatula. Add the grated cheese and pulse again until blended. Add a pinch of salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.

Recipe from http://simplyrecipes.com/

I may have to rethink my stance on tomatoes

My husband and I celebrated our 12th wedding anniversary a few days ago.

12 years. Wow.

It seems like such a long time and such a short time. We met because of a tornado and we were engaged six months later. We were married a couple of months before our “one year of knowing each other ” anniversary.

It’s a great story. I’m lucky because we have a great marriage to go with it.

To celebrate, we went out to dinner the other night, just the two of us, to one our favorite restaurants. Italian food was the theme of the night, beginning with a bruschetta appetizer.

Yes, I am not a fan of tomatoes, but for some strange reason I love bruschetta — so much so that I made some of my own.

 

GARDEN-FRESH BRUSCHETTA

  • 1 clove garlic, peeled and halved
  • 14 slices French bread, about 3/4-inch thick
  • 4 Roma tomatoes, seeded and diced
  • 1/4 cup chopped red onion
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp fresh basil, minced
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • 1 tbsp parmesan cheese, grated

Rub cut side of garlic over one side of each slice of bread. Place bread garlic side down on an ungreased baking sheet. Bake at 350 degrees for 5 minutes on each side or until lightly browned.

In a bowl, combine the tomatoes, onion, oil, minced basil, salt and pepper; spoon about 2 tablespoons onto each piece of toast.

Enjoy with a glass of white wine on you deck, balcony, front stoop, backyard, etc.

Recipe courtesy of my AllRecipes app on my new iPhone (Anniversary present! The phone, not the app.)

EGGactly

Here’s the thing about eggs — it’s rare two people like them the same way.

Personally, I am a scrambled egg fan. I never order scrambled eggs at restaurants or eat them at a buffet because they are usually undercooked, in my opinion. I scramble my eggs until they are basically an omelet, but not folded into a nice little pocket. When I do order eggs at a restaurant, I get them over medium. I like the yolk runny, but not too runny.

It isn’t easy making over medium eggs at home, which is what my husband and daughter prefer. (The boy, as usual, makes his “Yuk” face when I asks if he wants eggs.) I’ve found that if you get your pan really hot, but turn it to medium-high heat when cooking the eggs, you have a better chance of getting them cooked without overcooking or breaking the yolk.

What my husband really likes when it comes to eggs is omelets. Again, omelets can be tricky but after a few trial and errors, and a lot of meals where omelets became scrambled eggs with veggies and cheese, I think I’ve perfected my technique. We were on vacation last week — Spring Break! — so we ate out a lot. When we got home late Friday afternoon, I was thrilled to cook a meal in my own kitchen and made omelets for dinner, with peppers, onions, ham and cheese.

EGG TIPS

Scrambled eggs taste best when the batter isn’t diluted with milk.

Use an omlet pan for omlets, as it is much easier to handle than a large skillet.

Two eggs, sans milk, is perfect for an omlete. You’ll be able to coat the pan and have it cook through without burning.

Use non-stick cooking spray instead of butter to prep your pans. You’ll save calories that way.

Don’t forget the toast!

P is for Pancake

I made pancakes last night in celebration of Fat Tuesday.

And while I was juggling taking my daughter to practice, helping my son with his homework and getting the recycling ready, I remembered why I prefer French toast.

(This is the first time I ever attempted to make IHOP’s pancakes. They were OK, but not as light and fluffy as you get at the restaurant. I tasted the oil, too. I think I’ll stick to Bisquick for now.)

IHOP PANCAKES

  • Nonstick Spray
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 egg
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 heaping tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1/4 cup cooking oil
  • pinch of salt

Preheat a skillet over medium heat. Use a pan with a nonstick surface or apply a little nonstick spray.

In a blender or with a mixer, combine all of the remaining ingredients until smooth.

Pour the batter by spoonfuls into the hot pan, forming 5-inch circles.

When the edges appear to harden, flip the pancakes. They should be golden brown.

Cook pancakes on the other side for same amount of time, until golden brown.

Makes 8 to 10 pancakes.

Recipe courtesy of Top Secret Recipes

Adventures in Dinner: Part 1

Cast of characters: Me, hungry and walking in the door after 7 p.m. because of a school board meeting; husband, hungry and helping kids with their reading/spelling homework; younger sister, doing laundry and claiming not to be hungry, but doesn’t object to dinner.

Setting: The kitchen

Props: A skillet, some vegetables, a few tablespoons of butter, a box of pasta, some white wine. No meat of any kind.

ME to HUSBAND: Have the kids eaten?

HUSBAND: Yeah.

ME: Have you?

HUSBAND: I had one of those frozen chimichangas.

At this point the heroine, ME, is kind of irked because that was the last one and I she wanted it. Cereal does not sound appealing, despite YOUNGER SISTER’S claim that cereal solves all problem. But she regroups — because that’s the cool person she is — and vows to make a healthy dinner.

ME: Give me 20 minutes and I’ll have something ready.

Ta-Da!

YOUNGER SISTER: This is so good. Thank you.

HUSBAND: I like it.

ME smiles and eats her dinner knowing that, once again, she has beaten the I-don’t-know-what-to-make-for-dinner villian and all is well.

(Anyone have a number for Spielberg? He might want to direct this.)

QUICK AND EASY VEGGIE PASTA

  • Pasta, any kind will do (I used 10 oz of penne)
  • Butter, 3 tbsp
  • 1/2 of a white onion, roughly chopped
  • One carrot, diced
  • Chopped broccoli, 1 cup
  • 1 tomato, diced
  • Mushrooms, 1 cup sliced
  • White wine, a few tbsp
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • Parmesan cheese, optional

Cook pasta according to instructions.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium high heat. Add onions and cook for one minute. Add carrots. Cook both, stirring frequently, until onions are soft. Add mushrooms. After a minute or so, add broccoli. Wait a minute, then add tomatoes. Add the wine, and salt and pepper. Turn heat to low and simmer.

Drain pasta and add it to the skillet. Stir until pasta and veggies are well mixed. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese. Serve immediately.

Eat your veggies

My husband had to work last night, so it was the perfect night to make a vegetarian meal.

(My husband is very much a meat and potatoes kind of guy. Last summer, we joined my sister and her husband for dinner at The Red Avocado. I wisely neglected to tell him it was a vegetarian restaurant until it was too late for him to back out.)

PASTA WITH MUSHROOMS

Serves 4

  • Fettucine
  • 1 tbsp butter     
  • 1 tbsp olive oil      
  • Mushrooms, sliced     
  • Sliced green onions, about 8     
  • Tomato, chopped     
  • Fresh thyme, 1 tbsp     
  • Parsley, 1 tbsp     
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Cook the pasta according to the instructions on the box in lightly salted water.

Melt the butter and olive oil in a skillet. Add the green onions and cook for one minute. Add the mushrooms and simmer until soft, about three minutes. Add another tbsp of butter if necessary. Add tomatoes, parsley and thyme and simmer over medium-low heat for another minute or so. Salt and pepper to your own tastes.

Drain pasta. You can either toss the mushroom sauce with the pasta or spoon the sauce over a serving of fettucine — your call!

Simple, yummy goodness. And something I came up with while juggling dinner with math reviews for both kids.

Having two math tests in one week should be illegal.