Monday, November 29, 2010

Back in the Saddle

"Back in the Saddle Again..."

R caught the bus to school this AM.

G is off to preschool.

SPH is back to work.

Me? I'm ready to tackle this new week, and some new recipes, as well. I've been searching for a good mole ("mol-ay," not the rodent!) recipe for months, maybe years. This weekend I hope to perfect it to share with you.

Oh, and if you have any extra turkey from last Thursday, go ahead and freeze 2 cups of the leftovers, because on Wednesday I have fantastic recipe for your leftovers.

Hope your Turkey Day was yummy. Our turkey was smoked by SPH and looked lovely:

And how 'bout them Bucks?! A great football game was followed by our annual sojourn to Easton Town Center to see the tree, lights and holiday trains:

We even managed to go with Grandma and Papa to get our Christmas Tree, which as I type, is up and if I do say so myself, beautiful.

It's been awhile, but here are our meals for the week:

Shrimp and Parmesan Grits, Greek Green Beans
Pasta Puttanesca
Falafel and Hummus, Tzatziki
Slow Cooker Moo Shu
White Chili

Let the Holiday Season truly begin!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Let the Cooking (almost) Begin!

I spent four hours (yes, four!) grocery shopping today with G. I love to go to the grocery, and G blessed me by being a super trooper. It certainly helped that the three places we went had good samples and lots to keep us both entertained.

Our new local grocery store is the Market District and shopping there is not so much a place to get what you need off your list, as it is a foodie's dream shopping experience. We ate in the cafe before we shopped (it served as a great rest in the middle of our grocery marathon) and were able to choose from sushi, pizza, tandoor items, rosti, crepes and pho, just to name a few options. I've been to this store about a half dozen times since it opened last month and I feel like I am just scratching the surface.

Here's a picture of a recent trip to the Market District with R's Cub Scout Den:

And check out this uber-cool produce I found there:

If you live in Central Ohio, and love food, you need to make a pilgrimage to experience the Market District.

But with our grocery shopping complete, I'll begin our cooking for the big feast tomorrow. This year we're hosting SPH's family and my parents, and are excited about creating our first big Thanksgiving memory in our new home.

Our menu this year:

Cranberry Salsa Rounds
Pumpkin Butter and Grahams
Horseradish Cheese and Pumpernickel Sticks
Olive/Relish Tray
Vegetables and Dip

Main Event
Smoked Turkey
SPH's Homemade Gravy
Oyster Dressing
Cornbread Stuffing
Sweet Potato Casserole
Corn and Apricot Quinoa
Green Bean Casserole
Champagne and Sparkling Cider

Pumpkin Cheesecake
Apple Cranberry Pie
Peanut Butter Chocolate Pie

When I really stop and consider all the blessings in my life, I am so very, very thankful. Giving thanks this year may be easy or more challenging, depending on your current circumstances. No matter what you're experiencing, I pray you'll be able to soak in the goodness of life and truly feel blessed this Thanksgiving holiday...and beyond.

With my warmest Thanksgiving wishes, and a big "gobble, gobble,"

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Buckeye Buckeyes

It has struck me this week that we are, holy cow, a week away from Thanksgiving and about a month from Christmas. I don’t feel stressed with the upcoming holiday celebrations, just more than ever, blown away with the fact that the holidays are already here.

This year has been super fast for the Sweet Pea family, and as I finish our preparations for our Thanksgiving meal and begin to think about Christmas decorating, I also have in the back my head the other holiday we celebrate this time of the year: the Ohio State-Michigan game.

True, a football game is not a celebration of plenty or a Savior’s birth, but in this part of the country, you might wonder if some folks put Buckeye Football on par with miracles and bounty. Buckeye Football is B-I-G stuff here, and no regular season game is bigger than Ohio State-Michigan.

To celebrate a big Buckeye game, I love to make my favorite game day treat, Buckeyes. There are a few variations out there on this classic peanut butter and chocolate classic, but I like to think my version and technique holds its own. After all, I have rolled and dipped hundreds and hundreds of these babies, and in the process, learned a few tricks that do help making these treats more of a breeze.

Buckeye Making Tip #1 (and this is *key* to make the process easier): Stick a toothpick in each peanut butter ball and freeze the balls before you dip them in the chocolate. This will prevent the balls from dropping in the chocolate, and makes dipping a super-quick process. Read below for my tip to remove the toothpick hole from the finished Buckeye.

Make these beauties for the upcoming holidays (Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukah, OSU/Michigan, take your pick!) and you will be the hit of your gathering!

Buckeye Recipe from a Buckeye Blogger

1 cup creamy peanut butter
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2-3 cups powdered sugar
12-16 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

In a large bowl, mix the peanut butter, butter and vanilla extract. Stir well to fully incorporate.

Add two cups of the powdered sugar. Mix well. Check the consistency of your dough (you are aiming for slightly more firm than play dough). Add more powdered sugar as needed.

Roll the peanut butter dough into ¾ inch balls. Place on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or a Silpat Liner (optional, just makes clean-up easier). Repeat with remaining dough.

Place a toothpick about ½ way into each peanut butter ball. Freeze for at least 30 minutes or overnight.

While the peanut butter balls are chilling, pour the chocolate chips in a microwave safe dish. Cook on HIGH for 1 minute. Stir, repeat. Keep cooking for 1 minute increments until the chocolate is fully melted.

Remove the peanut butter balls from the freezer. One at a time, dip one ball about 2/3 of the way into the chocolate. Place back on the cookie sheet to cool. Repeat.

If at any time the chocolate gets too stiff or cool, place the chocolate back into the microwave for 30 seconds.

Dip all the remaining peanut butter balls. Remove the toothpicks. Dip your finger in water and gently press each Buckeye where the toothpick was extracted. This will smooth the hole and make it disappear.

Makes about 4 dozen Buckeyes.



Saturday, November 13, 2010

Teacher Winners

CarrieC and Josh, you both win a $25 gift certificate from Del Monte! I have two, so email me at your address and I will pop it in the mail to you!

Have a sweet weekend all-

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Calling All Teachers Giveaway

I volunteered in R's classroom for a good hour or so yesterday. It reminded me of how most teachers easily best me in the patience department. I love volunteering in the classroom, but I am not sure if I could do it every day.

So, teachers, I have a special giveaway for you and only YOU.

Del Monte is sponsoring a giveaway for teachers and has shared a $25 gift certificate toward the purchase of any Del Monte products. In addition, Del Monte is sponsoring a "Teacher Monday: Cash for Classrooms" online contest to award ten teachers to win $1000 for classroom supplies and fresh fruit for their students.

If you are a teacher, enter a comment below, sharing your best teacher tip. I'll pick a random winner by Friday, November 12 at 9pm EST.

Thank you to all the wonderful teachers out there that have touched so many lives!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Baked "Whatever You Have on Hand" Couscous

I'm ignoring the dishes in the sink and writing this blog post. Just hoping I can squeeze it in before the boys' television show ends...

This is one of SPH's favorite dishes and I love it because it is so versatile. I've made this many times, and it is always a little bit different.

Need an easy, different side dish? Here's your answer (just omit the protein)...

Need a one dish dinner with protein, whole grains and vegetables? Here's your answer...

Need a dish you can tweak with whatever you have on hand? Here's your answer...

If you have:

couscous (or quinoa, brown rice, orzo or other small pasta)
one 15 ounce can of broth
1 egg
1 1/2 cups of cheese
some vegetables and/or protein
some common pantry items (ie, salt, pepper, onion, garlic)

You have everything you need to alter to your family's food preferences!

Baked "Whatever You Have on Hand" Couscous

1 - 15 ounce can broth*
3/4 cup couscous
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 small onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups vegetables, chopped (we used butternut squash)
2 links chicken sausage or about one cup of protein, diced (if using)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1 large egg
1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (we like a mixture of romano and mozzarella, but have used cheddar too)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

In a microwave safe bowl, bring 1 cup of the broth to a boil. Add the couscous and cover. Let sit 5 minutes and fluff with a fork.

(*if using quinoa, rice or a small pasta, you will only need 1 cup of broth, and will omit the step above, instead, cook quinoa, rice or pasta according to package directions)

Meanwhile, in a large skillet over medium high heat, heat oil and then add onions and garlic. Cook 2 minutes. Add the vegetables. Cook until the vegetables are tender; cooking time will depend on your specific vegetable. If using sausage or other meat, add at this point, and cook until browned.

Add the salt and pepper, rosemary and thyme. Remove from heat.

Mix the couscous (or pasta, rice, or quinoa), vegetable mixture, and half the cheese.

In a medium bowl, wisk the egg and add the remaining 1 cup broth. Pour over the couscous. Spread into a 9x13 baking dish and top with the remaining cheese.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until the cheese begins to brown a bit.

Serves 6

The show is over and the dishes are still waiting for me-

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Snowville Creamery

This is our favorite milk and I want it to be yours too:

No, I am not getting any kickback to write about Snowville, it is motivated by pure love of this milk. Formerly only available in Ohio, I had to share that it is now available in my former hometown of Washington, DC too.

I first tasted Snowville a couple years ago at the Clintonville Farmer's Market on a hot summer day. The skim milk I tasted was more reminiscent of ice cream than any milk I'd ever tasted. Rich, smooth and almost sweet.

It is produced by free range, pasture grazed cows, or as Snowville puts it, "Milk the Way it Used to Be." Watch this video if you want to learn more!