Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts
Showing posts with label kitchen. Show all posts

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

"take a deep breath, mama"

Dinner prep did not go well this evening. I'm back to monthly meal planning, and tonight's dinner was tacos. Here's the thing about tacos at our house: I have to make everything from scratch. Everything. I dream about those taco kits from the store ...

Taco night is tricky because I need a long stretch of time to make dinner. Like two hours if I do it all in one go. I usually make the tortillas halfway while the kids are resting then finish them off while I am making the filling and fixings, but today during rest time I crashed on the couch with my Bible and a chocolate bar.

I started with the taco seasoning, which I knew I needed to make more of. A few spices, shake the jar up, done. Then I began making the tortillas. When I went to add the baking powder I discovered an empty jar. Gah! I quickly mixed up a batch of baking powder (we don't buy it from the store because we don't eat corn).

J and I had recently discussed why the tortilla recipe had sugar in it. We concluded that it was for flavoring purposes so I decided to leave out the sugar, but the end result was so sticky I ended up throwing the batch away. I told B, "We don't normally do this - in fact Daddy would never do this - but if Mama doesn't throw this away and start over she is going to start yelling."

While I was mixing the tortillas Ainsleigh was screaming as loud as she could because a) I wasn't giving her peas fast enough, and b) that's what Ainsleigh does. Queen Squawkers is the perfect nickname for her. I think the Lord thought it would be helpful to make her super loud so that all of my worries about her verbal skills failing to develop well because of her hearing loss wouldn't have a leg to stand on.

Then B joined in the yelling, because he is three. And then I yelled, because I am human.

I was mixing the dough, getting more and more frustrated, and then B, who was standing in his helper tower, looked at me and said, "Mom, you need to breathe. You need to take a deep breath, mama," because that's what I say to him when he gets frustrated.

The tortillas did not come out perfectly, but I got enough done and pressed that we could have dinner. I threw them onto silicone mats then pulled the griddle out so I could cook them. Two weeks ago when I made tacos I had two silicone mats full of beautiful little circles all laid out and ready to cook as soon as J got home from work. This time I wanted to throw all the tortillas out the door, or have J fix the problem - which he is brilliant at - but I knew J was going to be home late and I didn't want to make him walk in the door and fix dinner (foreshadowing!)

Tortillas done. Spanish rice started. Taco meat started. Fixings done. J almost home. I thought I was home free.

Oh, wait! While I was busy cooking Ainsleigh was pushing the kid chairs and table all over the dining room, which I thought was no big deal because she does that all day every day. But little miss was scheming and plotting and when I peeked in the dining room I saw this:

She used the small chair to climb on the big chair and was doing her best to get up on the table!!

J finally came home and whisked the kids upstairs with him to change/bounce on the bed. I put dinner on the table. I taste tested the Spanish rice before putting it on the table since it was my first time making it. SPICY!! I tried to figure out what I did wrong while eating cheese to ease the burning in my mouth.

"Something is wrong with the Spanish rice," I told J. "You can try it if you like, but it's really spicy."

I served the kids then made myself a taco. I took a bite, then my eyes began watering.

"J! This is SPICY! B, stop! STOP! Don't eat the meat."

He tried a bite. His eyes got huge.

"Eat some cheese, baby!! Quick! It helps!"

"It must be the chili powder, J! The chili powder we bought from the bulk bins this weekend."

"There's different kinds of chili powder?" he asked.

"I don't know! I guess so."

Then another thought crossed my mind.

"Oh my word, that's a pound of grass fed beef!" 

"Stop freaking out, let me try to fix it."

And he did. Mostly. Of course. He used his science brain to add a certain ratio of fats to the meat to tame the spice, then he rinsed it out, and it was edible. Ish.

I just put my head in my hands and ate a plain tortilla.

Monday, February 25, 2013

fatten the baby muffins

Fattening B up is our primary goal and mission right now. We've done away with normal meal times - and normal food, really - and focused on offering food every two hours. I'm not going to force B to eat, but I am trying to be intentional about offering food on a near constant basis.

A few days ago I made my first recipe from scratch! I mean, I went in the kitchen, put together some ingredients and created these strange tasting muffins B loves. I can't believe he likes them, but it's a good way to get him to eat avocado, coconut and pea protein so I'm not complaining.

B is currently 16.4 lbs. We are down a pound from his December weight, which is not the direction we went to be going in. He was 16.8 lbs prior to that nasty bout of flu. I'm trying to stay positive and calm. I know we'll figure this out. I know B will be fine.

Even though I don't find the muffins tasty I am going to share the recipe because it's my VERY FIRST completely made up recipe, and the fact that it's edible has to count for something. Sweetening these up with honey or agave nectar may help a little. And using regular flour as opposed to gluten free flour will reduce some of the graininess. I don't think anyone else is in my position, but if you need to fatten your baby up (or if you just want a healthy muffin recipe for your little) here it is:

Fatten The Baby Blueberry Banana Muffins


1.5 cups gluten free flour

6 oz vanilla coconut yogurt

1/2 cup heavy coconut cream

1/2 cup blueberries (frozen or fresh)

1 ripe banana

2 Tbs groundflax seed 

6 Tbs warm water

1/4 cup coconut milk

Pinch of xanthan gum (only if using gluten free flour that doesn't already have xanthan gum)

1 Tbs pea protein

1/2 avocado


Preheat oven to 350

Mix ground flaxseed and water. Set aside.

Blend avocado and banana - if your little one is picky. I just mash it together with a fork. B likes the banana chunks and doesn't mind the avocado if he doesn't taste it.

Mix flour, flaxseed mixture, xanthan gum.

Add coconut yogurt and coconut milk.


Add banana, avocado mixture and pea protein. Mix well. If too thick add 1/4 cup water.

Stir in blueberries.

Bake 25-30 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.

If you brave this recipe, let me know what you think!

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

fall recipe: roast chicken, two ways

September is a warm time, if not the warmest time of year in the Willamette Valley. This morning I stared at the 10 day forecast with dismay, but I know the rain will fall soon. When I did a quick read through of blog posts this evening I saw no fewer than three 'fall is coming' posts so I know it is almost upon us.

I love fall to pieces. It's my favorite season, which I've told you 1,000 times, I know. I hate cooking during the summer because it's hot and we don't have air conditioning and when it's hot I don't feel like eating. But then fall comes along and eating soup by a fire becomes not only appropriate but necessary (ten months of the year I am chilled to the bone) and hot chocolate in the morning starts to sound good every morning.

This year, as in somewhere around February, I tackled making a whole chicken for the first time. I'm 29. Is that shameful? I think it is. I found a fabulous easy recipe for rotisserie chicken in the slow cooker and I make it once a month, if not twice. I think I've shared the recipe here before. I'm so tired (mastitis, seriously) I'm beginning to think I've already written this post, but I don't think that's the case ...

So that's recipe number one. It is so easy. Go try it. And when you have that one tackled take on this next one. I found this recipe in the Bon Appetit Cookbook by Barbara Fairchild. Somewhere in the last year I became someone who flips through recipe books for fun. To think, it all started with a bit of innocent meal planning.

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme chicken


1- 4-1/2 lb whole chicken
2 tsp dried rosemary
1-1/2 tsp ground or dried sage
1-1/2 tsp dried thyme
bay leaves
5 tbsp olive oil, divided
4 small russet potatoes, quartered lengthwise and sliced into wedges
8 large shallots, peeled
1-3/4 cups chicken stock
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
6 tbsp butter
minced parsley


Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Rub chicken inside and out with salt. Combine rosemary, sage, thyme and generous amount of freshly ground black pepper in small bowl. Rub herb mixture inside chicken. Place 1 bay leaf inside. Tie legs together with string to hold shape. Brush chicken with some olive oil. Sprinkle with half of remaining herb mixture.

Place chicken in heavy large roasting pan. Surround chicken with potatoes, shallots and any other vegetables you are roasting. Sprinkle vegetables with remaining herb mixture and salt. Add remaining bay leaf and mix well.

Roast chicken until juices run clear when thigh is pierced with fork (about 60 - 75 minutes depending on size of chicken). Every 20 minutes or so baste chicken and vegetables with pan juices throughout cooking. Remove chicken and vegetables from roasting pan and tent with foil to keep warm (aerating so skin stays crispy).

Pour pan juices into large glass measuring cup and spoon off fat from top. Add enough chicken broth to measure 2 cups. Add vinegar to roasting pan; set over 2 burners and bring to boil over medium heat, scraping up any brown bits. Boil until reduced to glaze (4-6 minutes). Add broth mixture and boil until reduced to 1/2 cup (about 10 minutes). Reduce heat to low and whisk in butter 1 piece at a time. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Stir in parsley. Pour sauce over chicken and vegetables and serve.


I admit, this one taxed my brain a bit, but it was so good I will make it again. And to be completely honest, the first time through a recipe always taxes my brain a bit. To make this post even more exciting I'm going to add a third recipe: homemade chicken noodle soup. This won't be very precise because I make it up as I go along, but it's a great way to use every bit of a whole chicken.

When you've finished supper remove as much meat as you can from the bone. Place the chicken carcass in a large pot. Fill the pot with water until the carcass is just covered.


Carrots and celery, roughly chopped.

Salt (however much you like).

A dash of apple cider vinegar (pulls minerals from the bone).

Fresh rosemary and thyme (if you have it, if not dried will do).

Set it to simmer for a good long while (at least two-three hours).

Remove and discard the chicken carcass (you can pull more meat from the bone at this time).

Pour the broth into a large bowl (or two) through a sieve. Or use whatever you have on hand to make sure you don't wind up with vegetables and herbs in your broth.

Put it in the fridge overnight.

In the morning skim most of the fat off the top, but not all of it! Fat is good for you.

Chop up carrots and celery. Add.

Add rosemary and thyme.

Set it to simmer.

I like to let it simmer all day, but a couple hours is plenty of time.

When you are a few minutes from supper time make noodles separately and then add them to the soup. They go all mushy otherwise.

Taste for flavor. Add salt or chicken broth if you like. I only recently have managed to make a soup that I don't feel needs a bit of chicken broth added to make the flavor stronger.


So there you have it.

Roast chicken, two ways, and a soup recipe.

If you're thinking you can't handle raw chicken I promise you will be fine. I gag through the entire process, but I make it through.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

friday night, pizza night

I'm sticking with our monthly meal planning.  It hasn't been easy - and didn't go perfectly last month - but we knocked out our smallest school loan on the first which motivates me to keep going.

Now that I've been at the monthly meal planning for a while I've started being less focused on having varied meals with few repeats.  Now that I've mastered homemade pizza crust and sauce I think Friday will be pizza night.

image from here

I love pizza.  LOVE IT.  When I was pregnant with Charlotte we ate so much pizza J said he couldn't look at it for a while.  I could not get enough of pizza and pasta with her, whereas Bennett's pregnancy was all about meat.  I ate SO many bacon cheeseburgers during his pregnancy it's almost shameful.

I like that we can have pizza once a week without spending much money.  And we control the ingredients! I'm getting a little obsessed about ingredient control now that Bennett is eating with us.

Here are the recipes I've been using to make dough and sauce.  One quick note, you will want a pizza stone if you plan on making your own.  I use it to bake bread on as well.

I found the pizza dough recipe on Annie's Eats.  There is also a tips and tricks page which has helped me a lot.


Tips and tricks

The sauce is from someone at J's work.  I believe they got it from a restaurant they love.  I'm not quite at the - start by growing tomatoes stage, but maybe that's coming soon ...?


1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 12 oz can tomato paste
1/2 tsp thyme
1/2 tsp rosemary or basil
1/2 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 bay leaves

Simmer 2-4 hours. Enough for four pizzas.

The dough freezes really well, as does the sauce, and it makes enough for two pizzas.  We always bake one, freeze one since it's just the three of us (and B isn't allowed pizza, darn food allergies).

This month I am going to make a double batch of dough and sauce (recipe says it's enough for four pizzas, but two and a half is more accurate for us) in one go, which means I will have four meals DONE in a short amount of time.

I'm really excited about this.  My kitchen skills are improving, but I still don't enjoy cooking. And I like being able to eat a food I love without guilt about cost or ingredients.  It's fun to make pizza together too. We talk while J does most of the prep and Bennett plays around the floor by our feet. It's good family time, and when Bennett gets a little older I think he will enjoy making his own little pizza.

If you try making your own - and I encourage you to do so! - let me know how it turns out.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


I made ravioli this afternoon.  Last night after B went to bed I made, rolled, cut the dough.

I need a ravioli cutter, using a post-it-note to measure worked, but it was time consuming.  I stacked the dough between bits of parchment paper, placed it in the fridge, went to bed.

After my mom cleaned my house and helped me with shopping (I've gone to the grocery store every day but one this week; can't get it together) I put B in the Ergo and prepared dinner.

I made the ravioli filler.

I made dough for rolls.

I took the ravioli from the refrigerator, peeled it from its parchment home, filled it with spinach and cheese, brushed the sides with olive oil, placed a second piece on top, pinched the sides, set it back on the shelf.

Worship music drifted softly into the kitchen from the dining room.

B fell asleep.  I shifted him around a million times, he preferred head thrown back utter outness to neck saving resting on mama's back.

I made pasta.

I made rolls.

I didn't cry.

I wanted to, but I pushed the tears down - from my eyes to my neck to my shoulders to my arms to my hands.  I worked the pain and sorrow into the dough until I couldn't feel it pressing against my eyelids.

I made dinner from scratch for people I love.

I wouldn't have tried this a year ago.  I wouldn't have believed myself capable.

Losing her has made me more comfortable with failure.  Sometimes you try your best, you put your whole heart into an endeavor, only to watch it crumble and fade.

Results don't always equal efforts even when you follow the directions, do as you're told, adhere to standards.

Sometimes we fail.

Sometimes we fall.

Sometimes a comfortable life becomes a life unexpected.

In my unexpected I've found a new side to my soul, one that finds comfort in warm kitchens and flour soaked hands on sad spring days.

Tomorrow I will wake up, nurse B, put him on my back, prepare and bake my first cake.

I'll whisk sorrow into sugar, blend pain with flour, fold memories into frosting. And when the tears threaten to spill over I'll reach back, grab the chubby foot gently kicking my side, and squeeze until the pressure abates.


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