Archive for July, 2010

This is a rustic dinner at it’s best.  It’s what I might imagine myself eating if I were wandering through the vineyards of Tuscany and someone invited me into their humble home.  A one bowl dish of hearty and healthy fare.  This with a glass of chianti and some new friends would make for a full and satisfied stomach and a feeling of warm content.

Alas I’m not in Tuscany and this was made in my kitchen with ingredients from the super market as opposed to a homegrown garden.  And yet it is still chock full of flavor and texture, enough to satisfy me anytime of year.

Polenta with Roasted Tomatoes
Originally from foodnetwork.com
Servings: 4

1 28-ounce can San Marzano plum tomatoes, drained
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt
1 cup instant polenta
Freshly ground pepper
2 bunches Swiss chard (about 2 pounds) (I used red Swiss chard)
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 7.5-ounce package farmer cheese, crumbled (I used feta instead)

Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 450. Toss the tomatoes, olive oil and 1/4 teaspoon salt in a large ovenproof skillet. Roast in the oven until the tomatoes are charred around the edges, about 25 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 but keep the tomatoes inside.

Meanwhile, bring 5 cups water to a boil in a saucepan over medium heat. Slowly whisk in the polenta until smooth and creamy. Add 1 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste. Remove from the heat, cover and keep warm.

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Slice the chard leaves into wide strips and the stems into 1-inch pieces. Boil the stems until almost tender, about 5 minutes, then add the leaves and cook until both are tender, about 3 more minutes. Drain the chard.

Remove the skillet from the oven and place over medium-high heat. Push the tomatoes to one side, add the butter and swirl until the butter is golden brown. Add the chard and toss to coat. Divide the polenta among 4 bowls. Top with the tomatoes and chard. Season the cheese with salt and sprinkle over the top.


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Malted Milk Cookie Tart

A simple dessert that finished off a simple meal.  This tart is DENSE, rich, and very buttery.

I can’t decide how much I really liked it or if I’d recommend you make it … and yet somehow we managed to eat the whole thing in three days.  I’ll say this, 3 out of 4 people who tried it reported it good.  And I’m the difficult fourth person who is just not sure.  So, if you really like a malty flavor, maybe you should try it.  And if not, this might be one to skip in favor of eating an extra blueberry peach parfait or something!

Malted Milk Cookie Tart
Taken from Bon Appetit, July 2010
Yield: 10 wedges

1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup malted milk powder
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon (scant) coarse kosher salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into 1-inch pieces, room temperature
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (about 3 ounces; do not exceed 61% cacao)
1/2 cup malted milk balls, coarsely chopped

Preheat oven to 325°F. In processor, pulse flour, malted milk powder, sugar, and coarse salt. Add butter; pulse until moist clumps form. Transfer dough to work surface; gather into ball. Press evenly onto bottom of 9-inch-diameter tart pan with removable bottom.

Bake crust until evenly golden brown, about 45 minutes. Scatter chocolate chips over; let stand 5 minutes to soften, then spread melted chocolate over hot crust in well that forms as center sinks. Sprinkle malted milk balls over. Cool completely. Remove tart from pan; cut into wedges.

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Hanging Out. Literally.

Canaan was just hanging out on his blanket the other day …

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Cute looking pizza, right?  I thought so when I saw it in a magazine.  I also thought it might be kind of genius to have a runny egg yolk act as the “sauce” for the pizza.  After having tried it though, I’m feeling very lukewarm about this topping concoction,  Maybe if it did have some crushed tomatoes underneath that cheese it could have worked.

What did work, though, was the crust.  I took that from another recipe, thinking the polenta texture would work well against the eggs.  We both loved this crust and since, through an unfortunate (read: fortunate for Nate) misreading of the term 5/8 c. I ended up almost doubling the dough, we’ve been able to use it with other pizza toppings as well.  It’s delightfully crispy and full of crunch.  And I’ve never had an easier time time rolling a dough out super thinly without having it stick to the counter, shrink back to much smaller, or fall apart transferring it to the pizza stone.

Polenta Pizza Crust
Adapted from the Costco Connection cookbook

2 t. active dry yeast
2 T. olive oil
1 t. kosher salt
1.5 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
3/4 c. fine-ground polenta

Combine yeast with 1/4 c. warm water in a mixing bowl and let sit for 10 minutes.  Stir in 5/8 cup warm water, olive oil, and salt.  Mix in flour and polenta.  Knead for 7 minutes on a floured work surface.

Place dough in a large, oiled bowl.  Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 1.5 hours.  Punch dough down and let rest 10 minutes.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees.  Roll dough out as thinly as possible and place on a pizza stone.  Bake for 10 minutes, brush with additional olive oil and then add desired toppings.  Place back in the oven til crust is crispy and cheese is melted.

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10 years!  It’s been 10 years since Nate & I left Ecuador, 10 years since we graduated from high school.  That meant that this summer was reunion time.  Our class reunion was in Costa Mesa, California where the reunion planner lives.  People flew from all over the US, including Maine, Texas, Colorado, etc.  We had people come down from Canada and up from Ecuador for the event.  Just over half of our class was able to make it.  And wish us we brought new spouses and a pile of kids.

The reunion was pretty low-key planning wise.  It was three days of time to hang out.  We all stayed in the same hotel and had a conference room for our group that we could come and go from whenever.  World Cup games were watched together in that room.  Our first night we had a picnic in the park.  The next day people did what they wanted.  Some people went to Disney Land, some to Cristal Cathedral, the pool, or the beach.  Nate, Canaan, and I spent time with our friends Jeff, Mackenzie, and Jayden Rollins at Downtown Disney where we ate some spicy Cajun food and looked at the shops.  Canaan needs a few more years on him til that place becomes fun.  At night we had a campfire on the beach with hotdogs and s’mores.  The plan was to have a sing-along once it got dark but since it doesn’t get dark til after 9pm all of the kids were melting down long before that and we had to move the party back to the hotel!

The next day was another chill day and I spent time with my friends Rachel, Darryl, and Ellie as well as Sara, Matt & Bella.  At night we had our main reunion event.  We had catered South American food.  They played the video from our Senior Trip and a slideshow of many, funny old pictures.  There was one child who exclaimed at seeing his mom with a boy other than “daddy.”  Greg Collord was able to attend this night and he read our Senior Story that included everyone’s first and last names.  The group moved up to the conference room afterward and stayed up way past our post-baby bedtime talking and watching old videos of vocal concerts.

On Sunday we had a little mini-service and then watched the World Cup final together.  After that people started departing.  Nate and I had made plans to stay an extra day so we could see some friends from the Redlands/Yucaipa area so we did that Sunday afternoon.  Then we headed back to the hotel for dinner and afterward I was able to spend on last out with Sara, Sara, Erin, Rachel, and Jess.  I’m really glad I had that extra night and had fun exploring our thoughts on parenting, how our own experiences have impacted us, and what we might do different with our kids.

It was fun to see everyone’s spouses, kiddos and different parenting styles.  There were many kiddie meltdowns and lots of kids being passed from one person to the next.  Bonus for Nate & I was that the conference room was right across from our hotel room so we could let Canaan nap with the monitor on and be relatively free.  Other bonus was Jayne Lee, who loved holding Canaan and took him off of our hands often.  I enjoyed connecting with some people that I didn’t spend a whole lot of time with in Ecuador too.  I also enjoyed watching how people’s lives have turned out.  I’m amazed at some of my friends and where they were at along the way and where they are now.

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Idaho in Pictures

Swinging in the hammock with Grandpa Weenie, where Canaan liked to spit up all over him

Sleeping at the God & Country concert

Meeting Great Grandma Ruthie

Visiting the Farmer’s Market in downtown Boise.  Delicious fresh made mini-donuts!  Evidence of Canaan’s coming cousin off to the right.

Bad eating habits incurred by Nona

Hanging out up high

Playing with Aunti Kim and Uncle P (I promise our child is not always naked.  Just semi-frequently when we are lazy or he is hot.)

Checking out the ducks along the Green Belt

Nona finally encouraging some good eating habits (mostly posted b/c I love this picture!)

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Shrimp and havarti quesadillas?  Um YES.

Perfectly cooked shrimp, sauteed mushrooms, my favorite cheese, and a bit of sweetness from the apricot preserves.  Um YES.  YES. YES.  YES.  Make these.  And you will be happy.

(And dinner will be on the table in 10-15 minutes.)

Havarti Shrimp Quesadillas
From Taste of Home June/July 2010, p. 22
Prep/Total Time: 25 min.
Yield: 2 dozen

1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, chopped
1 T. canola oil
1 T. butter
6 T. apricot preserves
6 flour tortillas (10 in.)
6 oz. Havarti cheese, thinly sliced
1/2 lb. cooked peeled deveined shrimp, chopped
2 T. butter, melted

In a large skillet, saute mushrooms in oil and butter until tender.  Spread 1 T. preserves over half of each tortilla; top with cheese, shrimp and mushrooms.  Fold tortillas over.  Brush both sides with melted butter.

Grill quesadillas, uncovered, over medium heat for 1-2 minutes on each side or until golden brown and cheese is melted.  Cut each quesadilla into four wedges.  Serve warm.

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