Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Striped skies

I swear I've been trying to limit the amount of grainy cell phone pics I post, but sometimes it's the only gadget I have handy to capture the moment. Plus, I figure this cool photo of the Washington Monument with a background of oddly striped clouds was a bit more interesting than what I had planned to write,which was about one of my houseplants. I'll save that thrilling account for tomorrow. (Consider yourself warned.)

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Split Pea and Sausage Stew

The one good thing about this reluctant spring weather is that it’s given me a lot of time to cook.  So, I’m trying to take advantage of that, rather than being bummed that our weekend beach trip was rained out or that the footing is too muddy to take the dogs for a hike. It seems I’m also on some kind of weird mission to use these amazing chicken and apple sausages anywhere I can.  First, we ate them by themselves as an entrée with some braised cabbage on the side. Then, they started sneaking in to pasta. Now they’ve managed to totally steal the show from the poor little split peas in this soup.

And now feel free to insert your own off-color joke about loving sausage here. Don't think I can't hear your muffled giggles, Internet. You're so immature.

Split Pea and Sausage Stew
Serves 4-6 as entrée

  • 1 lb chicken and apple sausage, diced
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 medium carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and diced
  • 1 ½ c. dried split peas, rinsed
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Cracked pepper
  • 4-5 cups chicken broth

  1. Heat large pot or dutch oven over medium heat. Add sausage, onion, carrots, celery, garlic and potatoes and stir about. If mixture starts to stick, add olive oil. Cook until sausage is browned and onions starts to turn translucent.
  2. Add split peas and spices and stir. Add broth and bring to simmer, then reduce to medium-low heat. Cover and keep at a low simmer, stirring occasionally, until peas are completely soft and soup is nice and thick (although you can add more broth if you’d like), about 30-40 minutes.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Me and my boy

I don't spend a lot of time on the other side of the camera lately, so I appreciate this photo Chris took of the Peanut and me even more. Lack of make-up, ugly dining room window and all.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork

When the Pioneer Woman posted this recipe earlier in the week, I knew that making it would be in my near future. Her super easy  brisket has successfully fed many carnivores at my house, and this pork sounded like it was in the same vein. We ended up with a chilly weekend and no plans - the perfect excuse to slow cook a giant hunk of meat. Chris described it as "pretty good for indoor pork", which seems like an accurate description. For something that wasn't dry rubbed overnight and then smoked for hours over apple wood, the results were quite tasty.

I wish I had used the larger can of chipotles, as PW recommends. I was trying to ensure it would be toddler-friendly, but it could definitely have used a little more kick. I also wish I'd used more onions. At the end, I chopped up the onions and peppers and threw them back in the shredded pork. More onions would have been nice. Before serving, I reduced the cooking liquid to concentrate the flavor and make it a little thicker and I also added a bit of mustard. Overall, an incredibly simple and delicious pulled pork with a lot of versatility. We served on rolls with purple coleslaw, but it might end up on tortillas or in pasta sauce later this week.

Dr. Pepper Pulled Pork
Serves 8-10
Adapted from The Pioneer Woman

  • 1 5-8 lb pork butt or shoulder (my cut had a large bone in the center, not sure if it was mislabeled or not)
  • 1-2 large onions, cut in to wedges
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 can chipotle peppers (I used 7 oz, PW calls for 11 oz.)
  • 2 cans (or 3 cups) Dr. Pepper
  • 2 tbs brown sugar
  • 2 tbs mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Spread onions over bottom or large dutch oven or roasting pan. 
  2. Season pork liberally with salt and pepper. Place over top onions. Pour chipotles and Dr. Pepper over pork. Dissolve brown sugar in a bit of Dr. Pepper and pour over meat as well.  Tightly cover pan and place in oven. 
  3. Roast for six hours (carefully turning every hour or so),  until meat easily pulls apart.
  4. Remove meat to cutting board. Pull apart with forks, discarding large clumps of fat and bone. Chop onions and peppers and mix in with meat.
  5. Pour juices in to a fat strainer. Once separated, pour about two cups of juices in to small sauce pan. Bring to simmer and reduce to about half. When reduced, add mustard.
  6.  Add juices back to shredded meat and serve.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Snow repellent

 Or so I hope. They're calling for snow tonight and tomorrow and, as you can imagine,  I am none too impressed with that forecast.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Friday bliss: Frites and Allagash White

I met Chris for lunch at Victoria Gastro Pub today and was pleasantly surprised to find that what used to be a Bennigan's is now a pretty dang good place to eat. We started with frites fried in duck fat, topped with rosemary and truffle salt and accompanied by a draft of Allagash White Ale. The frites were pretty amazing, but the lobster grilled cheese that followed was out of this world. I'd honestly put in on par with Central's lobster burger, it was that delicious. Chris went with a boring old burger, but it was topped with caramelized onions and mushrooms, so I think he was pretty happy. We finished off with a perfectly rich chocolate cake with crushed pralines.  I was hoping it the food would be decent, but it far exceeded my expectations. Score for the suburbs!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

These are not cherry blossoms

Today I learned that a surprising number of tourists mistake magnolias for D.C.'s iconic cherry blossoms. They were so excited that  I didn't have the heart to correct them.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

19 month old monkey

Loves to play with Mama's pots and pans. Despite the room full of toys 5 feet away.

Is starting to refuse his high chair and wants to sit at the table.

Can be clingy at times.

Loves to splash.

And splash.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

A game where everyone wins!

Disclaimer: this is a very true and very stupid story. No names were changed because I deserve no protection and am not innocent. No equines were harmed, though.Yet.

For years, I have wanted a gray pony just so I could name him Twilight. And then, THEN that stupid glittery vampire bullshit phenomenon ruined my imaginary pony's clever show name. Frrrrick. My pony would have been Team Jacob, btw. And he would have sparkled way more than Whatshisname. Mostly because of the hoof polish.

Anyway, now that the Peanut is getting older, my mom wants to get him a pony for real (I know. I would settle for a 529, but who tells a grandparent not to buy their child a pony? Lack of ponies is the leading cause of child psychosis. Or so I hear.) My family is not rich, by the way. They just have rich people's hobbies. Like playing polo, scuba diving and hunting snipe.

I am excited about the opportunity to name a real live pony yet worried that I won't be able to top Twilight. Chris suggested Chalkboard. Or Graystache. This has become our new game. Like the "that would make an awesome band name" game, but for ponies. Recent entries include Burritostache (I sense a theme forming) and Colcannon.

I suppose it would be wise to acquire the pony first, but my mom has a slight tendency to announce her grand intentions long before she actually does anything, if (big IF) she does it at all. Otherwise, I would be writing this from the Key West condo that she never bought. I will keep you posted on the naming of our hypothetical-pony. Suggestions welcome! We better do it quick before the kidlet thinks he has some kind of say in the matter. Or we all realize that buying a toddler a live animal that outweighs him by 700 pounds may not be such a wise idea. Also, that whole not being rich thing.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Olives

Bacon and olives and chicken. Yes and yes and yes, please.  We had our neighbors over on Saturday night for a low-key dinner (Hi Julie & Dan! I’ll post about carrots soon!) and this came together so quickly and easily. The most time-consuming component, by far, was hacking apart the whole chicken. I can’t wait to try it again with bone-in thighs or breasts and let that damn butcher do all the work. 

Bad lighting, good chicken.

Roast Chicken with Bacon and Olives
Serves 6-8
Adapted from Gourmet

  • 1 chicken (about 5 lbs), cut in to parts
  • 1/8 c. olive oil
  • 1 tsp dried thyme (used in lieu of fresh – use fresh if you have it!)
  • 1 tbs fresh rosemary, finely chopped
  • Salt and pepper
  • 10 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 4 slices bacon, diced
  • ½ c. dry white wine
  • 1 c. pitted calmata olives

  1. Preheat oven to 450. Toss chicken with oil, herbs, garlic and good dose of salt and pepper.  Top with bacon. Roast until chicken begins to brown (20ish minutes).
  2. Add olives and wine and cook for another 20-30 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Let rest a few minutes before serving.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Remarking on the unremarkable

It's funny how the nicest weekends make the worst blog fodder. We had a great dinner with neighbors yesterday (recipe to come) and an equally lovely time taking the dogs for a hike and grilling out at my mom's today. But nothing terribly zany or remarkable occurred. And you know what? Sometimes those are the best kind of weekends.

Hope yours was perfectly boring as well!

Chris tried to capture the "Super Moon". We did not notice anything particularly super.
Visual representation of much of our weekend
Colin did NOT like his first Big Wheel experience. This face was also present on not one but two rocking horses.

Random snapshot, but hey! What is that weird orange thing in his eye?

Um, just the reflection of his own arm as he tried to grab the camera. Funniest catchlight to date.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Bowled over

Fedoras are so 2009. Bowls are where it's at.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Little leprechauns

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
This is another adorable holiday decoration that the Peanut supposedly made at daycare. I worry that our day care provider stays up late at night in the world's cutest sweat shop with a little assembly line of Oriental Trading craft kits.

Speaking of the Peanut, Tessa gave him his second haircut yesterday. And she was nice enough to let him play with the squirt bottle. Hilarity ensued. 

You can't quite tell in photos, but he is completely wet from spraying himself in the face.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Pork Chops with Rosemary Wine Sauce and Blue Cheese Polenta

Okay, I lied about doing more complicated recipes over the weekend. But at least this one seems fancier, right? Because of the wine? And the blue cheese? Regardless, it is good. I promise you that. The red wine sauce was stolen from a meal a few weeks ago. It is eye-rollingly yummy with the polenta (or “classy grits”, as I like to call them).

Pork chops with Rosemary wine sauce
Serves 4
  •   Olive oil
  • 4 pork chops (I used boneless loin chops, about ¾” thick)
  • Salt and pepper
  • 3 springs rosemary
  • ¾ c. red wine
  •   ½ c. broth
  • 3 tbs. cold butter
  • 1 tbs Dijon mustard
  1. Preheat oven to 250. Heat oil in heavy skillet over medium high heat. Season chops liberally with salt and pepper. Brown chops on both sides, until just cooked through. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in oven.
  2. Add rosemary to skillet. Deglaze with wine. Cook until wine is reduced and syrupy.
  3. Add broth and continue to reduce for a few minutes. Then remove rosemary and stir in butter, one pat at a time. Stir in mustard.
  4. Spoon over chops and serve.

Blue cheese Polenta
Serves 4+
  • 4 ½ c. water
  • 1 c. polenta (or grits or corn meal)
  • 2 tbs. butter
  • ½ c. of your favorite crumbled blue cheese
  1. Bring water to a boil. Quickly whisk in polenta. Reduce heat to medium.
  2. It will only take a few minutes for the polenta to thicken – stir frequently. When nice and thick, add butter and blue cheese. Stir until fully incorporated. Serve and smile.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Dynamic duo

I walked outside today and saw a crowd forming. Not for a new exhibit or politician or celebrity, but for this pair.

Mounted park police officers just might have one of the coolest jobs. I almost think I missed my calling. Except then I remember all the hot summer days spent shoveling stalls and cleaning tack. I hope they have interns for that.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Too much fun

Whoops! Yesterday got away from me. We had a blast at the Baltimore St. Patrick's Day Parade followed by dinner (oysters on the half shell and fried catfish) at Cross Street Market. Bmore may not turn the rivers green, but they still know how to prep for St. Paddy's Day. 

Saturday, March 12, 2011

The maternity test results are in.

This is how the Peanut spent most of his morning: wearing sunglasses, playing with an Ikea cocktail shaker and coloring. I think we've confirmed that he's mine. We'll have to cancel that Maury taping after all. 

And he now refuses to make eye contact with me when he is doing something adorable and I have the camera out. Does this mean I have officially hit momarazzi status?

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Best Tressed

The Peanut has always had a decent amount of hair. I think it's the one feature he gets from me.

It's been getting a little long lately, but I thought I would share with you our technique for maintaining silky, tangle-free locks.

Step one: Apply oil directly to the hair. Really, any food related liquid will do. Tonight, we used chicken sausage juice. It had just the right amount grossness.

Step two: Massage in to scalp.

Step three: Rinse thoroughly.

Step four: Revel in your new 'do.

And for extra fun, vintage Peanut (with tamer tresses):

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Potatoes, peas and an apology.

First, I'm sorry. I am painfully aware of how simple, brainlessly simple, the recipes on this blog have been lately. You guys are too nice to say anything, but I know.

I have a few valid reasons for taking the easy route so frequently. For one, I do most of my cooking in the evenings and things are quick and easy by necessity (a hungry toddler is a miserable human being). Secondly, the more complex meals I've made recently, like gumbo, pot pie, and a tagine, just haven't turned out all that great. Not flops, but not worth recommending. Regardless, I'm going to make it a point to whip up some more interesting things on the weekends, I promise!

And now on to yet another quick weeknight side dish! I hope your repertoire isn't full of them already. This was an interesting twist to regular old roasted potatoes. A word of caution, though, if you prefer your potatoes to have a nice crunchy exterior - the peas kind of ruin that. They add great nutritional value but make the potatoes a tad soggy.

Blah! That photo of the actual food isn't so great, so I'll give you a bonus shot of the cool bowl it's in:

I love this glaze. So pretty.

Spicy Potatoes and Peas
Adapted from Everyday Food, March 2011

  • 4 good sized Yukon gold potatoes, scrubbed and diced
  • 1/2 tsp cumin
  • 1/2 tsp coriander
  • 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
  • extra virgin olive oil
  • About 10 oz/2 cups frozen peas, thawed. 
  • Preheat oven to 400. Line a baking sheet with foil.
  • Combine spices in small bowl. Toss potatoes with spices and a good glug of oil. 
  • Roast for 20-30 minutes until easy to pierce with fork, stirring once or twice.
  • Add peas, stir and return to oven until peas are hot (just a few minutes). Remove from oven and serve.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011