Monday, October 27, 2014

Farm Stand Chicken Pot Pie

Yup. dig in. Because this stuff is fantastic. And healthy. And helps fight colds (chicken stock base and such). And did I mention yummy?

Michael Symon strikes again. I pretty much followed his recipe this time, except I used what I had veggie wise. Plus, hubbs does not like mushrooms. So we subbed in peas. And we didn't have chard so we used kale.

So homey and yummy and comforting and made my whole house smell fabulous.

Honestly, I could have just eaten it all just like this. But when the man says to make a mashed potato crust, you make a mashed potato crust. Yes sir.

It's soupy goodness wrapped in mashed potato heaven, broiled to perfection. I am not exaggerating. Hubbs said he now can never eat any sort of chicken soup again because I've ruined it for him. This is all he will want now. Pretty high praise. Woot woot!

And the recipe says it takes 1 to 2 hours, but that's because he's including the time it takes to roast a chicken. Since I already had chicken that I roasted and pulled off the bones, it only took about an hour to put together. Or you could just use chicken breasts or thighs and not roast a whole chicken. But when you can make some delicious stock from the bones why would you not just roast it?


creamed kale pie

This is essentially a mash up of all the different forms of spinach pie I love. My mom's, my Aunt Stella's spanakopita, and all the fabulous spinach dips I've ever eaten. And I'm sure you'll never guess who's recipe this is....of course it's Michael Symon's. I'm nothing if not consistent.

He used a pre made pie crust. I had phyllo dough that I had to use up. Which means that in between each sheet of dough you butter it. Also butter the bottom of the pan. I didn't and it stuck. oopsie.

Also, I used kale. Cause it's what I had. Still delicious. Just put a few sheets of dough down, then throw in half the filling. Then fold over a few of the sheets. Then put the rest of the mix in, then fold over the rest of those sheets. Then add a few more sheets on top. Remember, butter between each one.

And then, awesomeness ensues.


Saturday, October 25, 2014

Sundried Tomato Sicilian Pesto & a new Foccacia!

Rainy days always make me hungry. Especially dark, cold rainy days. And I always want pasta. So I grabbed Mario Batali's recipe for this pesto, and yup. It's delicious. I tweaked it a bit. I kind of combined his classic pesto with this Sicilian one for the most fabulous pesto ever. In my humble opinion.

The changes I made. Instead of using mint, I used basil, because it's what I had on hand. I didn't bother getting almonds with no skin cause that's annoying, so I used the almonds I had already. And I have no idea what cheese he was talking about, so I just used Parmesan. It's what I had, and it is the undisputed king of cheeses, so I figured Batals would be ok with it. That's right. I totally just nicknamed him what Michael Symon calls him. Cause in my head, we're just that close. And also, he just made pepperoni bread on the show, which is my mom's famous dish and I've never heard anyone else ever call it pepperoni bread, so I feel like we're family. Totally logical.

Anyway, it's amazing. I followed his directions as far as cooking, or not cooking, it. Because I trust he knows exactly what he's talking about. I used fusilli, again because it's what I had. I'm trying to ensure that I only make meals that I don't have to go out and buy special ingredients for unless it's a special occasion, or we just happen to need to go grocery shopping. That whole sticking to a budget thing.

Also, because hubbs just got home from London, I made him some bread. I've done the other foccacia recipe a bunch of times now and I'm bored, so I decided to do another search. And I came across this blog/ recipe. And she's right. Foccacia is so bogus here. So I thought I'd give hers a try. And I'm pretty sure I'm never going back. I still add the rosemary on the top because I just heart it, but her recipe is pretty bad ass. it is literally the best bread I have ever made ever. Ever.

So there you have it. Comfy Italian food for a rainy gloomy day. And pasta face.


Feeling all the feels; a toddler story

Spending a month away from your home and your stuff and your hubbs can bring out the worst in you and your kiddos. Obviously. And there's no better way to test this theory than to spend that month in hot and humid. And so, we did.

And here are some lessons I learned, some tidbits I discovered about myself and my babygirl, and some other general nonsense that I find amusing.

First up. Babygirl does NOT fair well without daddy. 2 weeks with him gone made her a sobby mess almost every morning. So we decided that we'll have to cancel our plans to fly to Jersey for Thanksgiving and stay through the Christmas season while daddy travels back and forth. It does nothing but frustrate everyone involved. And also? If I come home to more piles of cat vomit again, there's a good chance that they will not survive.

But this brings me to my next point. The sobby mess. The LOUD sobby mess. I felt awful that my poor brother got stuck in a room with no door and missing a wall, and subsequently had to hear the screaming and crying all early. And I realize that it's not a pleasant sound. especially when it lasts for what seems like forever. But I'm SO grateful that she expresses her emotions. I'm beyond thrilled that she feels comfortable enough to just let it rip. And so. I don't stop her. I did try to take her into a different room so she wasn't waking the dead, but I did not try to shush her, or tell her it was all ok (because for her it wasn't), or tell her to quit her crying before I give her something to cry about. I let it roll. And I hugged her when she wanted a hug. And I just sat in the room when she wanted her space. And when she said "I want take a calm", we took a few nice calm breaths, and then we talked. And then she went about her day. Was it loud? Yup. Was it probably annoying to those around us? Yup. Did I care? Maybe a little, cause I don't like causing other people distress, but I'm finding as a parent that I care a LOT less about others' perceptions of me when it comes to my kids. And, let me be clear, no one suggested I should, but I am SO glad that we decided not to just smack the emotions out of my child. Because I'm sure from the outside, it just looked like I had a defiant child who was having a tantrum because I told her no or she couldn't have something that she wanted, and her screaming was perceived as just being an undisciplined brat. I know that's what I would have thought prior to having children. And I would have added "they should just spank her". My my my, I owe a lot of people apologies for my judgey-ness pre-kiddos.

And that's the thing. You, dear outsider, have zero ideas what my child is going through at that moment that you see tantrum. That you see "defiance". So you, dear outsider, don't get a say in how I tend to that child. And I'm sorry that your sensitive little ear drums just couldn't handle the 5 seconds you walked by us and witnessed chaos. But trust me, the 30 minutes that I dealt with it were no picnic. But let me assure you, I'm not about to do something I don't believe in to my child because you don't like her behavior at that moment.

Which brings me to my next point. "No". There's not one other word in the English language that your kiddo can say to you that gets your blood boiling like this word. But. I love it. Maybe it's cause I have a girl. Maybe it's because of my inability to say this word to people my whole life. Especially when it came to boys, and what they wanted to do, and what I didn't want to do, but didn't ever feel like I had the power to simply say NO. To say NO to the jokes at work that offended me, or the constant barrage of IM's, phonecalls, following and cornering me into talking to you because you really wanted to, even though I repeatedly tried to avoid you at all costs. NO to the date that bought me dinner so thought I owed him something.

Stay with me here.

Do I love the fact that my daughter says "NO" to me as often as she does? Of course not. I'm a parent, and I want her to know that she has to listen to and respect me. HOWEVER. I want her to use that NO. I want her to wield it's power. Often. I want her to know, without a shadow of a doubt, that she is allowed, ENCOURAGED, to say NO when it makes her uncomfortable. Uneasy. When it's her body. When it feels wrong, even if it's a trusted adult telling you to do it. Use that NO. Yell it if you have to. Even if it's to daddy or I. Sometimes, she says no just to try it out. Says no, but does what I ask. And sometimes, she says no, stands her ground, and I realize that she's right and she can say no. I pour her a drink and she says NO because she wanted water, not milk. It's her body. She's right. Bring on the no.

If someone could tell me where the switch is to flip on and off your perception of when you're able to use NO when you're 3, then by all means, I won't let her say no to me anymore. But since that doesn't actually exist, I'm gonna go ahead and let her say it. I don't ever want to take that power away from her. Don't get me wrong. When we want her to do something, and she says no, we get on her level, look her in the eye, and explain that she needs to do what we're asking (put away toys, don't spit water at your brother, etc). And she usually does it, as most toddlers usually do. But I don't tell her "You're not allowed to say NO to me". Because that's not what I want for her. And it could just be my sensitivity and issues with it that lead us to parent this way. But either way, it's how we roll.

And her volume. Oh, her volume. When she gets excited, this girl can out-scream a shrieking monkey. It's loud, kind of hilarious, and at times, a bit much. But I'm not about to kill her excitement, her pure joy, for the sake of my ears. So we roll with it. And we roll NOTICEABLY, because loud. But, when you take a look at her face (and little man's face, because of course he got the screamy gene as well), and you see the pure elation. Well, you don't ask them to dampen it down. You just can't.

I started writing this post about a week after we got home from Jersey. That was at least a month ago, if not more. It felt angry then. And like I was desperately trying to justify my parenting, our behavior, our perceived errors. So I held off. But now, rereading? I love it. And I'm sticking with it. Because it's how we choose to parent our kiddos. And it's working for us. Quite well, actually. I love that they feel all the feels, because I never did. I always wanted to be perfect. I hate confrontation. So regardless of how I felt, I buried it down and pushed through. Never talking to anyone about my true feelings, sometimes getting really frustrated, and finally exploding until the point of no return, which resulted in ended friendships and lots of tears. I'm working on this. I'm working on finding my voice, for the sake of my kids. But I'm making sure they always know they can use theirs.


Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Mexican Pot Roast Tacos. Just Say Yes.

Yup. I love these. They are one step down from the amazing pork carnitas recipe I recently stumbled upon (because I love a pig. I do I do). But this is amazingly delish, and super easy to throw together. The meat is a fairly cheap cut (beef chuck roast), and you do a whole bunch then have leftovers, with which to make nachos, or sandwiches, or just eat it cold out of the fridge....You can cook it in a crock pot, but I really hate those things, so I did it in a dutch oven.  I used Tyler Florence's recipe because I wasn't finding anything I really liked in my "authentic Mexican pot roast" google search. And I love his dimples. So, of course.

You start by browning the meat. Then add some onions and garlic. I should note that from the burek I made the other night, I had leftover 1/2 lard, 1/2 oil- so I cooked the meat in that.

Then you add all the liquid and spices and bring to a boil. I didn't have ancho chil
i powder, but I had dried ancho chilis, so I just added a little warm water and used the blendtec to get it to a paste. I also used maybe a quarter of the amount of cayenne pepper he said to and the liquid was still CRAZY spicy....but not the meat.

It simmers for 3 hours then looks like this.

Then you remove from the liquid and break apart with a fork. You of course "taste test" the entire time you're doing this.

And then you thank the Lord that you made a triple batch of tortillas and froze a bunch so that you simply need to heat them up in a pan and BOOM. Pot roast tacos.

And tomorrow, pot roast nachos.

Done and done.


Burek & Baklava- the Serbian/ Bulgarian Life

UPDATE. Michael Symon has a recipe for baklava, because of course he does. It is the best I've ever eaten. And it's pretty too....
this was my second time making baklava, first time making his recipe. the directions were easy and the result was amazing!

So. Hubbs is the big 35! And to celebrate, I made him a feast of his heritage. Although I know I didn't quite do Tete Yovanka justice, I tried as best I could. And here's how I did it.

I used blogs and the Bulgarian cookbook hubbs' parents got for us to make these.

For starters, to make my own phyllo dough, I used this blog. There is a Bulgarian dish called Bonitza that is very similar to burek, but I think the dough is thicker. Which is why I made my own. (I cheated for the baklava and used frozen, organic phyllo dough). I don't use this blog's filling because it's not how his aunt makes it. And feta > cottage cheese any day of the week.

So here's the recipe I used for the meat and cheese burek:

about 1 lb ground beef
1/2 lb ground pork
1 white onion
1/2 cup chopped parsley
salt and pepper
1 egg

I cooked the meat, onion and parsley. remove from heat then add the egg.

the cheese filling is just 1 lb feta (Bulgarian sheeps milk feta is the best, but French feta is a close second. Greek feta is not creamy enough).
2 eggs
Mix together

Then, you follow the directions from the blog as far as shaping and filling the dough. Do fold the dough over each layer. I did not do that and there was not nearly enough dough in the pie for all that meat and cheese. I made one layer meat, the other layer cheese, with a teeny bit of meat sprinkled on top.

In the cheese pie, the filling is a bit different. I added a cup of yogurt to it. And another 1/4 pound of cheese.

As I said, make sure you fold the dough over the layer instead of leaving it hanging over the side like I did.

Then follow the baking instructions from the blog. Once it's done cooking, cover it with a kitchen towel while it sets...hubbs' said that's how you keep the top soft.

And now for the Baklava.

I had to get creative since I didn't have enough walnuts, so we used half walnuts and half pistachios, which is actually quite delicious. And I thought that there was honey in it, but the Bulgarian calls for a sugar lemon syrup which you make instead of honey. Still delicious.

You will need six sheets of phyllo dough if you only want one layer, which is what the recipe calls for, but I'm sure you could double it easily.
about 2 cups of butter, melted
about 2 cups of chopped walnuts
1 tablespoon cinnamon
1 1/2 cups sugar
lemon juice

grease your baking pan
make the syrup by bringing sugar and 1 1/2 cups of water to a boil and cook for 10 minutes. turn off heat, then cool and add lemon juice, to taste. let cool.
layer 3 sheets of phyllo, buttering each one
mix the walnuts with the cinnamon and spread over the sheets
(at this point I added a little bit of the syrup I made because I thought it'd taste good over the nuts)
cover with the next 3 sheets, spreading melted butter on each one.
Bake at 400 degrees until top is golden brown.
Remove from oven and pour syrup over the top. Let it stand for 24 hours to soak.

I of course could not wait 24 hours to try it. So I had some and it was still delish. But I'm looking forward to my piece tonight that's been soaking!

Love, Eastern European style.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Why I'm Pissed off today- Germ/ Bacteria Edition

Let's have a chat for a minute, shall we?

Can we just for one second take a nice deep breath, as a nation, and just CALM. THE. EFF. DOWN.

Seriously. The media is NOT doing us any favors here. In order to grab headlines, they take the most obscure, every day, common sense things, and turn them into THE SKY IS FALLING EVERYONE IS GETTING SICK AND GOING TO DIE OH MY SWEET LORD JUST STAY IN YOUR HOUSE AND WRAP YOURSELVES IN BUBBLE WRAP AND NEVER EVER LEAVE EVER!

Today, a total of 3 TIMES before noon, I saw a "story" on the news. A story about why you need to change out your toothbrushes regularly. And not keep them directly next to the toilet. Because germs. And bacteria. AND YOU COULD GET SICK! AND DIE!

Ummm. #1. DUH. change your toothbrush.

#2. germs and bacteria are not all bad and scary. If one is never exposed to germs and bacteria, then one can never build up any sort of immunity and hence will just get sick all the time. Which is why they've done all those studies about how all of the anti-bacterial hand sanitizers, soaps, cleaners, etc etc have actually made us worse for the wear.

People. We do not live in our own sewage anymore. That was taken care of in the first half of the 1900's. Back then, yes people died from things that are considered easily curable now. Mainly because they lived in their own filth, worked 16-18 hours a day (men, women & children), never saw the sun because of those jobs, and were malnourished.

But we're way past that stage. And now, the pendulum has swung WAY too far in the other direction. And part of the problem is the 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, WE NEED HEADLINES THAT GRAB media that we live with. Because there are just not that many tragedies to keep up with. So they decide instead to try to scare the crap out of us. With nonsense.  It hurts my brain.

Typically, I don't have the TV on. Except for when both of my children have plotted against any sleep I might have wanted the night before. Then guess what? A little GMA and Kelly and Michael is required. Except now I'm tired AND pissed off. So there's that.

The point is. There is some scary shit out there. Terrifying really. The stuff that my blog typically deals with (Big Pharma, Big Ag, Government essentially treating this country like lab rats with all their science disguised as food and medication....), parents getting arrested for doing things that our parents did without a second thought. We don't need to make shit up. Or turn toothbrushes into death sentences.

Perhaps there could be a news station that broadcasts the correlation between our complete and utter fear of germs....and our inability to fight off viruses, like the new enterovirus.  Or the flu. Don't even get me started on the pure lunacy of the flu vaccine. Our bodies were created to fight off these things. When we were growing up in the 80's and early 90's, the flu sucked, yes. But it did not kill people. It was not considered an epidemic. Enter the all sanitized, all the time generation and guess what? FLU is picking people off. Superbugs are now around that we can't kill. We are filled with pesticides and toxins and plasticides and chemicals and phthalates and synthetic hormones and antibiotics and on and on and on....

And now? Well, we're paying for it. And for once, I would just like to see someone, somewhere, talk about this issue without being called a quack. Or told that there's no science to back that up. Correction. There's no science that was funded by the government and the big companies producing this garbage to back that up. Because money.

So honestly. Let's stop being sheeple. Let's stop sucking up what they're selling. Let's stop pretending that the reason we're so sick as a nation is because we're not eating enough of the "diet and health" food they're selling. Let's stop pretending that we know the long term effects of the newest science experiment they're pushing on us without us knowing.

And let's just stop watching the news.

Side note. Please don't send me nasty comments about how terrifying Ebola is. I get it. It is scary. But please remember. It doesn't kill everyone that gets it. In countries where clean water is hard to come by, then yes it's a lot harder to fight off. And do I want to get it? No. I do not. But this post is not really about Ebola. The end.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Moussaka, you get in my belly

Oh Michael Symon. My hunky Greek iron "the chew" chef crush. I heart him SO. MUCH. My dream is to be asked to cook on The Chew with him. this would be a hell of a lot easier if I still lived in Jersey, as it tapes in NYC, but I digress....

This man has NEVER EVER EVER created a recipe that wasn't pretty much the best thing I ever tasted. No wonder he's undefeated on Iron Chef. The man is foodie gold. And this recipe?? Uhhh, yeah. I made this recipe for my Greek uncle. Who not only absolutely loved it, but gave some to his neighbor, who's from Turkey, who said that that Moussaka was better than his mother's!!!!! WHAT!?!?! That's crazy sauce. But I'll take it!

The reason is because this recipe is so phenomenally fantastic. Seriously. I hate casseroles. I'm not a big fan of stews. And every other time I ever ate moussaka, I hated it. But the hubbs comes from that part of the world, and so as a favor I made it for him. And of course, I turned to my buddies on The Chew for a recipe and I got this gem. It's so good that Carla Hall STILL gets teased 2 years later for going into the backstage fridge and taking Michael's leftovers that he was saving for his wife. Just STRAIGHT UP TOOK THEM because that's how good it was. I follow his recipe exactly, except I use both eggplant and zucchini because I love them both and some people find too much eggplant a little bitter.

First you make the meat part of the dish. Oh yeah, I use dried cranberries instead of dried currants because cranberries in everything I say. And then you pan fry up the eggplant. I tried to put it in the oven to roast instead, to save myself some time. Epic fail. So I gave in and did it the long way. That's the only way to get that nice brown on it and not have it dry out.

Then you make the bechamel. Which for this is a goat cheese, lemon zest and honey bechamel. And you use egg yolks to get it uber creamy. I could eat this by the spoonful. But I didn't. Instead, I used some of the baguettes I made from the other day as a utensil to shovel it into my mouth. DO. NOT. JUDGE. ME.

Then you do the layering. Eggplant, meat, eggplant, meat, top with bechamel. He's pretty specific with his instructions which is really nice. Especially if you didn't happen to watch that episode. But I totally did, so there.

And that, my friends, is the beautiful, nicely crusty topped all done and baked moussaka. Stupid good. So good that I made 2 extra pans of it to freeze because it takes about 3 hours to put all this together if you're wearing a giant baby and amusing a toddler, and dammit I'm only doing it once in a while but I want to eat it always all winter long.

So yeah. There you go. I know it's been a while since my last post (my meals have been repeats and/or lame lately), but this one totally makes up for that. Promise.

And you know. It's greek. So if you hurt yourself while you're cooking, just put some windex on it.


PS. Just a reminder, since it's been forever and a day, that all of the ingredients I use are organic, never from a can ever ever ever, and are as processed free as humanly possible. I mean, I obvs don't churn my own butter, but you get the picture.