Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Flour Power

I had never eaten fried okra before I met SPH. Now I could eat it every week if I let myself. Actually, recently I've let myself...we had it the last two weeks in a row. Perhaps I am trying to appease my lack of chocolate with other yummy, yet not-so-healthy foods.

I could try and spin fried okra as a way to get your child interested in a healthy new vegetable, but I won't. I will simply tell you that french fries or onion rings, on their best day, never tasted as good as SPH's fried okra.

The beauty of this recipe is that the only thing SPH uses to make his fried okra is flour, seasoning and lest I forget to mention, gobs of oil. It is the flour that makes this taste so simply delicious.

SPH's Fried Okra

Serves 4

About 2 cups of sliced okra (fresh is great, but in lieu of fresh, buy a 10 oz frozen package and thaw it buy running water over it)
1 cup flour
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground pepper
pinch of cayenne powder
2 inches of vegetable oil in a large skillet (probably a good 2-3 cups)

Heat the oil over medium high heat.

Rinse the okra:
Combine with the other ingredients (but not the oil!) in a large plastic bag:

Shake out over a colander:


Test to make sure the oil is hot enough with one piece of okra (it will bubble and fry furiously if the oil is hot enough) and then pour in the rest:


Let cook for 5-6 minutes or until the piece begin to brown. Remove from the oil and drain on paper towels:

Sprinkle with a bit more salt, if desired.

Now try and get them to a plate before you eat. them. all.


This is the meal that SPH cooked for us...any wonder why I am crazy about him?

SPC

Monday, March 30, 2009

Painfully Smiling

No big musings going on here today. Just a busy weekend and the realization that G has entered the "painful forced smile" stage.

Come on, you know this stage, right? It is when your child, when asked to smile, instead of just thinking happy thoughts and allowing a natural smile to appear on his face, makes a face that doesn't resemble anything happy.

And yes, I cooked up some G soup later that day...

R has had this face mastered for some time...



Our meals for the week:

Seared Scallops, Fried Okra, Cheese Grits and Strawberries
Slow Cooker "Roast" Chicken, Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Green Bean Casserole
Pork Carnitas
Carnitas and Chicken Enchiladas
Roasted Vegetable Lasagna

Have a good one,
SPC

PS--Oh, and Whitney? I haven't forgotten...the fried okra recipe is my next post.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Emergency Substitutions

I posted on Familyeducation.com today about emergency cooking and baking substitutions. I would love to grow this list though, so if you have other go-to substitutions (besides ordering take-out!), let me know!

On a totally unrelated side note, this "giving up chocolate for Lent" thing is proving to be quite the challenge. I have not cheated, but my chocolate cravings are getting quite intense! I took R and G to Whole Foods for lunch today with a friend and her two kids...they were giving away chocolate cupcake samples. Oh-my-goodness it took every ounce of self control to steer clear. 16 days and counting...

Hope you all have a great weekend!
SPC

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Get in my belly!

video

G, our former "string bean," is becoming quite the healthy eater and is apparently quite proud of his growing belly.

We couldn't be happier since at one point the pediatrician was concerned about his weight. Keep it up, G!

SPC

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Watered Down

I am a chronic juice waterer-downer. R doesn't mind and G doesn't get juice frequently enough to notice, so every morning when R requests juice, I top off the glass with half water.

I think this product is marketing at its finest:

I buy the Mott's for Tots Juice Boxes, but the other day when I reached for a bottle of Mott's for Tots juice, it hit me...why not make my own?

So instead of buying the M4T juice bottle, I now use these:


Pour half of the concentrate (cost $1.25) in an empty juice container (cost=$0.00) and mix with water to fill it about 3/4 full. Give it a good shake and voila, homemade "juice," at a fraction of the cost of the M4T.

I like the Old Orchard brand of juice because the lid is resealable, so you can freeze the remaining half of juice concentrate for your next batch of juice.

Sweet!
SPC

Monday, March 23, 2009

Planting Seeds

As we inch closer and closer to April, it is really starting to feel like spring around the Sweet Pea home. This weekend we planted seeds for our early spring vegetables...beets and, appropriately, sweet peas.

R and G love getting into the dirt:





And I love seeing their excitement about vegetables. Let's hope it translates into some new tastes of beets later this summer.

Our meals this week:
Carolina Pork BBQ, Corn Spoonbread and Texas Coleslaw (recipe later this week)
Corn Chowder
Baked Burritos and Refritos Frijoles
Tofu Stirfry (another new recipe)

What's cookin' on your end? Any good spring recipes to share?
SPC

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Budget-Friendly, Tasty and Heatlhy Slow Cooker Meal

R loves paprika. I am not sure he actually adores the taste, but there was a Curious George episode during which the Man with the Yellow Hat says, "who stole my paprika?" (George had buried it in the yard) and this made R laugh. Since I am always on the lookout for tricks to get R to try new foods, I have taken his interest in paprika and run...

When we make hummus, I always let him pour some paprika on top, which he loves. He will taste some, look at me and declare, "it needs a little bit more paprika." He shakes a teensy-tiny bit more on top and tells me, "now it is perfect."

This recipe is heavy on the paprika, so predictably, R quite liked it. It also tastes like home...it is Eastern European (my mom's heritage) comfort food at its finest. I altered the recipe from an Eatingwell.com version, so its been lightened and created for the slow cooker.

Slow Cooker Chicken Paprikash

3-3 1/2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed,
2 tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt, divided
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons canola oil
3-4 cups onions, chopped
Pinch of sugar
1 cup diced roasted red bell pepper
1 can (4 oz) tomato paste
2 tablespoons sweet paprika
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth
3/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream

Pat chicken pieces dry with paper towels and season with 1/2 teaspoon salt and pepper and flour.

Heat oil in a large skillet over high heat. Add the chicken and brown on each side (you may have to do in two batches). Place the chicken in a the slow cooker after it browns.



Add the onions in the skillet and sprinkle with sugar. Cook for a few minutes and then add to the slow cooker. Dice the red pepper and add to the slow cooker.

Mix the broth, tomato paste, paprika, crushed red pepper and parsley in a small bowl, then pour into the slow cooker.

Cook on low for 8-10 hours, high 4-5 hours. Immediately before serving, remove the chicken to a platter, add the sour cream and stir.

Serve over egg noodles.

Serves 4-6.


This recipe is a definite make-again for us...
SPC

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Top of the Morning (well, afternoon) to You!

Remember that Seinfeld where Mr. Lippman opened up "Top of the Muffin To You!"? Here's a muffin top recipe that won't give *you* a muffin top.

A healthy snack for you or your kiddos. R and G have been gobbling them up for snack, which thrills me since neither of them are that into carrots.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!
SPC

Monday, March 16, 2009

Cue the "Danny Boy"

Need a quick, easy Corned Beef recipe for your Irish celebrations tomorrow? Look no further...

Slow Cooker Corned Beef

3-4 pound beef brisket, spice packet included
1 -12oz beer (or chicken broth, although I highly recommend the beer)
5-6 whole cloves of garlic
3-4 cups of roughly chopped vegetables (we use potatoes, carrots, onion, chopped cabbage and celery)

Place all the items in the slow cooker. Cook on low for 7-10 hours.

That's it folks, it's that easy.


The rest of our meals this week:

Slow Cooker Chicken Paprikash
Sloppy Joes with Fried Okra
Shrimp and Artichoke Pasta
and probably some sort of Corned Beef Hash...

Happy St. Patty's Day!
SPC

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Houston Round Up

After a crazy week, I thought I'd post some quick pictures of our time in Houston. It was a full trip! A visit to the rodeo (Jenn has those pictures) and NASA-

Visits to Houston's best grocery stores-

G, riding in style on our way to an awesome Hispanic grocery store with produce like this-



But most important, time with our good friends-

Brian and Jenn's backyard is so amazing...and it looked even better with one of these in our hands-

Lone Star Cocktail


Equal parts Guava Juice and Champagne (or seltzer or ginger ale). Top with a slice of starfruit. Easy peasy, and so, so tasty!


I'll be back to my regular posting next week. Until then, have a great weekend!
SPC

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

We're back!

I should be doing laundry. Or going through our pile of mail. Or at the very least, trying to begin to think about unpacking.

But instead I am down on the computer playing a game of "can-I-write-a-quick-blog-post-before-naptime-is-over?

We're back from Texas and I am not happy. Not happy because I miss my friends already. Not happy because it was in the 80s all during our visit and currently it is, UGH, in the 30s. Not happy because it was 79 when we flew back into Columbus last night and apparently in the 70s all weekend, but the cold weather has returned. Not happy because my tummy is still recovering.

Did I mention that I capped off our wonderful visit in Houston with getting some sort of way-funky stomach flu/bug?

I try not to write about un-appetizing things on this blog seeing as though I bill it as a "food blog" and all. But suffice it to say that G and I had one heck of a time keeping anything resembling food in our bodies for a good bit. But very thankfully, we made it home with no, um, "events" on the plane.

But before the terrible tummy bug hit, our trip was full of yummy food:


and good side trips:


Ironically, R's preschool class is learning about space this week, so he has lots to share from our trip to NASA.

As for me, I have lots of great food to share, pictures and recipes. But my quick time is up, and I hear the boys beckoning...

SPC

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Headin' out

Nothing like best laid plans...

I planned to get one more post in before we leave for Texas tomorrow. But (and this really shouldn't be a surprise to me or any parent) trying to gather everything to pack and take with us is taking more time than I imagined.

So...

I'll be back next week posting up a storm about all the wonderful food, fun and adventures we shared in Houston.

'Til then...

SPC

Monday, March 2, 2009

In like a lion

So as you no doubt know, it is March. Trouble is, no one has seemed to inform the weather here in Ohio.

Yesterday I woke up, the sun was shining and I decided to go on a morning Walg (Walk-jog) before church. Trouble was, it was in the 20s, and March was truly coming in like a lion, with big huge gusts of wind. Undaunted, I donned my long underwear, neck wrap, hat and gloves and headed outside. At least the sun was shining, and since it was some time outside to enjoy being by myself, I was happy as a clam.

Backing up, Saturday we decided to take R for his first try of ice skating. I loved ice skating growing up and I think he just may have inherited my skating gene...

A little help from mom...


and off he went on his own...he did great!


I appease my inner "where the heck is the spring weather?" by reminding myself that March comes in like a lion, and out like lamb. Here's hoping that lamb arrives soon...but at the very least, the Sweet Peas are looking forward to our family trip to Houston later this week to go visit our good friends, the Goodwins.

R is super excited for the trip. He actually asked me, "do you think we will see at least one *real* cowboy when we are in Texas?" I chuckled and assured him there would be lots of cowboys to be seen, especially since we are headed to the rodeo a week from today. Add that to a planned trip to the Johnson Space Center, and R is already asking me when he can start packing.

What am I excited about? Seeing good friends, a trip to the spa with Jenn and dinners out, sans the kids. In the meantime, our meals are quick and easy this week, with the exception of a new recipe I am developing that I am excited to test...

Grilled Steaks/Veggie Burgers, Sauteed Mushrooms, Broccoli and Butternut Squash
Picadillo and Sweet Potatoes
Cuban Style Quesadillas

As for the rest of the week? We'll be off on our trip...

Have a sweet week,
SPC