Archive for May, 2010

He’s Cute


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What would dinner be without at least two attempts to put our child back down for his nap?  At least, we call it a nap.  Maybe he thinks it is part of his night sleep but something that only lasts 45 minutes can hardly be called “down for the night.”  That doesn’t generally happen ’til much later.  Fortunately this meal can survive fits and interruptions to re-rock the little one.

It’s simple and hearty and not too terrible on the thighs, full of folates from all those buttery, white beans.  Serve it with a slice of crusty, toasted bread to scoop up all those beans and you’re set for the evening.  Originally this recipe did not include corn and you are perfectly welcome to leave it out.  But Nate is not a huge bean fan so I knew I needed to jazz it up a bit to get him excited.  Corn is pretty much a great way to do just that and I spent the minutes that the steak was grilling swatting his hand away from the cutting board full of corn kernels.

Tips for those short on time: put the spice mix together anytime you have a minute … or even days ahead.  You can also drain the beans and cook the corn earlier if it helps get it on the table faster in the end.  Then it’s a 15-minute fix come dinner time.

Spice-Rubbed Steak with White Beans and Cherry Tomatoes
Adapted from Bon Appetit Magazine
Serves 4, Total Time: 25 minutes

2 ears of corn
2 teaspoons chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, divided
1 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Coarse kosher salt
1 1 1/4-pound top sirloin steak (about 1 inch thick)
2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1 1-pint container cherry tomatoes
2 garlic cloves, pressed
2 15-ounce cans white beans, drained

Start by cooking the two ears of corn in a pot of boiling water.  Allow to cool enough to handle and then use a knife to strip the kernels.

Meanwhile, mix chili powder, 1/2 teaspoon cumin, crushed red pepper, and oregano in small bowl. Sprinkle spices, salt, and pepper all over steak. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook steak to desired doneness, 5 minutes per side for medium-rare. Transfer to cutting board. Wipe out skillet; add 1 tablespoon oil. Add tomatoes; sauté 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in garlic and 1 teaspoon cumin. Add drained beans and corn kernels; stir until heated through, adding water by tablespoonfuls if dry, 3 minutes.

Slice steak; serve with beans.

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Pear, bacon, and goat cheese.  All great ingredients, but how would they marry together?  Well, there was no time but this week to find out when I happened to have those three ingredients all on hand at the same time.  Never mind that this strikes me as an excellent first course for a dinner party and I was going to be serving this to two tired-out, frazzled parents, one of whom would probably be eating one-handed … as this certain baby has a real knack for waking right when plates of food are placed on the table.  I’m told this is when a swing comes in handy but sadly, we don’t have one handy!

But just because we are tired-out, frazzled parents doesn’t mean we can’t appreciate good food and good this was.  Pear, bacon, and goat cheese make a remarkably delectable combination that I’ll be glad to pair again and again.  The skimpy drizzling of honey and hint of thyme in the goat cheese just top this one off beautifully.

Roasted Baby Pears with Herbed Goat Cheese
Recipe by Tyler Florence, taken from Food Network

1/2 pound goat cheese
1/4 cup chopped mixed herbs such as parsley, thyme, and chives
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
12 baby pears
12 slices bacon, about 1/2 pound, cut in 1/2
2 tablespoons honey
Arugula or dandelion greens, for garnish

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

In a small bowl, mix the goat cheese, herbs, and 2 tablespoons olive oil; season with salt and pepper. Halve the pears and scoop out the seeds and cores. Stuff each pear half with about a tablespoon of the cheese. Wrap each stuffed pear with a slice of bacon and place it on a baking sheet. Drizzle some olive oil over the pears and season them with salt and pepper. Bake them until the pears are tender and the bacon is crisp, about 25 to 30 minutes.* Place the pears onto a platter, drizzle with the honey, and garnish with the arugula.

*I’m not a big fan of overly cooked or pears that have lost their crispness.  So I ignored the direction to cook these for 25 min.  Instead, I started the bacon in a frying pan and removed it when it was still pliable, but just starting to crisp.  Then I cooked the stuffed pears with the bacon for just about 4-5 minutes, only enough time to make the goat cheese soft and hot.

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Canaan’s Dedication

We had Canaan dedicated this past Sunday at our church.  It was something we wanted to do right away because we don’t have that many Sundays left at New Life.  We really wanted to do this at our church “home” with all the people who have known us since long before Canaan was around.  And we had family in town this Sunday so it was the perfect time.  Nate’s parents came, as well as Laura, Matt, Laura’s boyfriend Garenne and his parents, and Eric, Emily, Eleanor, and Edith.

Kevin praying for Nate & I as we raise Canaan together

Praying over Canaan.  Kevin loves to hold the babies as he prays, regardless of how fussy.  He is a pro with four of his own much further along.

As usual, the worried, old man face was present.

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You’re skeptical of this combination, right?  Well, I sure was.  I’ve never been one to pair my meat with fruit.  Orange chicken?  No thanks.  Cranberry sauce on my turkey?  I’ll skip it every time.  But part of developing as a cook is trying things you might be tempted to pass up and finding ways to surprise yourself.  So I decided a recipe that can be done from start to finish in 25 minutes was worth giving it a whirl.

Fortunately, given that 25 minutes is the better part of a baby’s nap these days, I found the effort worth it.  The chops themselves were juicy and tender, taken out of the oven at 155 degrees.  And the sauce brought out an interesting side to the pork.  It’s more red wine than blueberries, so the fruit doesn’t overpower.  The sauce starts with a delightfully, velvety touch from the butter swirled in at the end.  Then it continues on to the stronger notes of lemon and berry as you finish the bite.  A pretty good bite, I’d say!

Pork Chops with Savory Blueberry Sauce
Originally from thekitchn
Serves 4 , Total time 25 minutes

4 boneless pork chops (I used bone-in and they were very juicy)
1 shallot, finely diced
1/2 cup red wine
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup blueberries
1/2 lemon (zest and juice)
2 tablespoons butter
Fresh parsley, roughly chopped

1. Preheat the oven to 425°F.
2. Salt and pepper both sides of each pork chop. Heat a tablespoon of oil over medium-high heat in an oven-proof skillet big enough to hold all four pork chops.
3. Brown the pork chops, about 1-2 minutes on each side. Remove the pan from heat and pop it into the oven. Remove when the pork is just cooked through, about 10-12 minutes.
4. While the pork chops are in the oven, prepare the sauce. Heat a tablespoon of oil in a small saucepan over medium high heat.
5. Sauté the shallots until soft and golden. Add the wine and water and let boil down for 1-2 minutes.
6. Add the blueberries. When the skins begin to burst, add the lemon zest and juice. Let the sauce continue to boil and thicken until the pork chops are ready.
7. Once the pork chops are ready, remove the pan from the oven and place the pork chops on a cutting board and let them rest while finishing the sauce.
8. Turn the heat off under the saucepan and stir in the butter until it is completely melted. If using unsalted butter, add a pinch of salt.
9. Serve the pork chops either whole or sliced, topped with the blueberry sauce and fresh parsley. Since the pork chops were finished in the oven, they should still be nice and juicy.

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Dinner Conversation

Canaan talking to his dad as he eats dinner

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I am not a chocolate cake girl or a chocolate cupcake girl.  If I had my wish, all cake would come in vanilla form with vanilla buttercream frosting.  Okay, maybe not all cake because that might get a little bit boring but there is nothing I like more than white on white when it comes to cake!

Except when it comes to this recipe because this is just the greatest chocolate cake recipe I have ever come across.  Sometimes I think about it in my sleep.  And I’ve made it three times in the last two years, which is a SURE sign of my devotion as most recipes never make it past the first round and those that do are often not seen in the rotation again for a good three years.

But this is not about my recipe habits.  This is about this CAKE with this FROSTING.  It’s to die for, it’s completely, decadently, sinfully rich and yet I still want the biggest slice ever.  It’s totally moist too, which is a common beef I have with chocolate cakes.  This time I was making some giveaways for people, so I adapted the cake to cupcakes.  A little less work than a triple layer cake but still packed with this totally winning combination.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Sour Cream Cupcakes

Taken and adapted from the recipe on smittenkitchen.com.  Visit her site for the beauty that is the original cake with dripping ganache.
Servings: 30 cupcakes

2 cups all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, preferably Dutch process
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup neutral vegetable oil, such as canola, soybean or vegetable blend
1 cup sour cream
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons distilled white vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 eggs

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Fill muffin tins with cupcake liners or grease thoroughly..

2. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa powder, baking soda, and salt into a large bowl. Whisk to combine them well. Add the oil and sour cream and whisk to blend. Gradually beat in the water. Blend in the vinegar and vanilla. Whisk in the eggs and beat until well blended. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and be sure the batter is well mixed. Divide among the cups.

3. Bake for 24-26 minutes, or until a cake tester or wooden toothpick inserted in the center comes out almost clean. Let cool in the pans for about 10 minutes. Remove and cool completely.

4. Make frosting and spread a thick layer on each cupcake.

5. To decorate with the Chocolate–Peanut Butter Glaze, use a spoon to place a dollop of glaze at the center of each cupcake and spread in a circular motion.

Peanut Butter Frosting
Makes about 5 cups

10 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
5 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter, preferably a commercial brand (because oil doesn’t separate out)

1. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese and butter until light and fluffy. Gradually add the confectioners’ sugar 1 cup at a time, mixing thoroughly after each addition and scraping down the sides of the bowl often. Continue to beat on medium speed until light and fluffy, 3 to 4 minutes.

2. Add the peanut butter and beat until thoroughly blended.

Chocolate-Peanut Butter Glaze
Makes about 3/4 cups

4 ounces seimsweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1.5 tablespoons smooth peanut butter
1 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup half-and-half

1. In the top of d double boiler or in a bowl set over simmering water, combine the chocolate, peanut butter, and corn syrup. Cook, whisking often, until the chocolate is melted and the mixture is smooth.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Use while still warm.

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