Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese

I wanted to make dinner for Maw and Paw (my husband's grandparents) while we were visiting, so I brought along a recipe to try. They enjoyed being a part of my cooking endeavor. My friend Shannon came to eat with us too. It was a great dinner.

Mediterranean Macaroni and Cheese
Serves 6

If you like, add canned tuna, browned ground meat, or cooked chicken when you stir in the feta. This dish is delicious right out of the oven or at room temperature.

* Course salt and ground pepper
* 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, plus more for baking dish
* 1 can (14.5 ounces) diced tomatoes, drained
* 1/3 cup pitted Kalamata olives, chopped
* 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
* 8 ounces elbow macaroni
* 1 garlic clove, minced
* 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
* 2 cups whole milk
* 8 ounces feta, crumbled

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Set a large pot of salted water to boil and butter an 8-inch square baking dish. In a small bowl, combine tomatoes, olives, and oregano.

2. Cook pasta 2 minutes less than package instructions; drain pasta and return to pot. Meanwhile, melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium. Add garlic; cook until fragrant, 1 minute. Whisk in milk, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; simmer, whisking constantly, until sauce thickens, 3 minutes. Remove from heat; whisk in 4 ounces feta. Stir in tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture over pasta; stir to combine.

3. Pour pasta mixture into dish and top with 4 ounces feta. Bake until sauce is bubbling and cheese begins to brown, 20 to 25 minutes.

found in Everday Food Magazine April 2010

From My Experience:

This recipe appealed to me because I LOVE olives! When I was pregnant, I craved salty things and green olives hit the spot. For this recipe, I didn't have Kalamata olives plus I wanted more of them in my dish so I used 1/3 cup each of black and green olives, sliced. I also always try to cut calories whenever I can, so I used 2% milk instead of whole and reduced-fat feta (which still has the tangy bite I love). I didn't see the need for more fat by buttering my dish so instead I used plain old cooking spray. I served it with seasoned chicken tenders, salad, and garlic bread.
Overall the macaroni was very easy to make and quite tasty; everyone loved it! I think I needed some more salt on my portion and Jake (my husband) ate his 3 helpings with chicken on top. Maw thought it would be an excellent dish to take to a potluck get-together. Paw didn't have much to say, but he enjoyed in nonetheless. And Shannon said she was surprised, she liked it more than she thought initially. She said the black olives won her over. So my taste-testers agreed that the recipe was delicious and the hubby said I could make it again for us at home. I'd say it was a success!

Trip to Beaumont

Last weekend, Jake and I took Sloane to Beaumont to visit his grandparents. They came to see Sloane when she was a newborn but hadn't seen her since except through pictures online. Maw and Paw needed a pick-me-up and we wanted to go see them before school started, so it was the perfect time. They had a great time spending the weekend with their only great-grandchild.

Paw held Sloane and entertained her when the others were busy. Maw got to feed and bathe Sloane.

Sloane was the center of attention.

And when Sloane got sleepy, Maw would sing nursery rhymes to her while rocking.

We had a fun weekend at Maw and Paw's.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

6 Months

Well today Sloane is 6 months old! We went to see our friend Dr. Dudley this morning and here are her stats. She weighs 14 lbs. 15 oz. which makes her in the 25th percentile. Her length was 27 inches which is the 90th percentile. This has pretty much been the average; her weight is usually 25-50th and length 75-95th. Sounds like we are on track for a tall, thin beauty! Her head circumference measured 42.4 cm, 40th percentile. Dr. Dudley said she is in definitely on track in her development and doing awesome. Next step for Sloane will be introducing vegetables and fruit twice a day.

Here are some of the things Miss Sloane can do at 6 months:

* roll over both ways
* transfer objects from hand to hand
* bear weight when held in standing position
* almost sit with no support (she is close to accomplishing this goal)
* laugh and smile
* notice her bottle and reach for it
* recognizes when others are eating or drinking
* babble (right now it sounds like ba-ba or ma-ma)
* if in the mood she can imitate sounds

She is still sleeping 11-12 hours at night with 2-3 naps during the day although they are getting shorter. She likes her pacifier or sucking her thumb; doesn't seem to have a preference and really only does this when she is sleepy. She also likes to sleep with her little handheld blankets. She eats 7 oz. 4 times a day and cereal once in the afternoon or evening. Now we are going to start eating a variety of things. For enjoyment, she plays on her mat laying on her tummy which she is enjoying more now that it is easier. Sloane also jumps and plays in a stationary jumper, and likes to get in her swing in the evening when I need to start fixing dinner and she wants to be held. She is becoming more interactive these days. She talks when she is playing by herself or when she gets upset. Sloane also touches your face and reaches for other interesting things like hair and jewelry. Her expressions have broadened too. Not only does she smile, but she frowns and pooches out her lips when she is frustrated. She also starts to breath heavy when she gets excited or smiles and then turns her head away shyly. Jake and I are having so much fun watching her grow each day.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Sweet Mustard Barbecue Sauce

Today Jake started his official inservice for school, so yesterday we decided to grill for dinner. I had a pork tenderloin in mind but needed a marinade or rub to enhance the meal. I had been whittling down my collection of magazines that day also and cut out a barbecue sauce that paired perfectly (so it said) with pork that we decided to try.

Sweet Mustard Barbecue Sauce
Makes about 2 cups

1 cup cider vinegar
2/3 cup prepared mustard
1/2 cup sugar
2 Tbsp. chili powder
1 tsp. white pepper sauce.
1 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. ground red pepper
1/2 tsp. hot sauce
2 Tbsp. butter or margarine
1/2 tsp. soy sauce

STIR together first 8 ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat; bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in butter and soy sauce.

From My Experience:

I had to make some changes because I ran out of regular mustard. I decided to squirt some ketchup to the mix in it's place because I know that is commonly used to make barbecue, however then I found some spicy brown mustard and put a spoonful of that in too. Total my mustard combination equaled 2/3 to 1 cup. Then I switched the black and white pepper for my ground peppercorn medley. Who really has white pepper by itself? Instead of ground red pepper, I added Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning because I really like the stuff! As I was stirring and heating up my mix, I was very unsure of the outcome. The smell was a very strong tangy scent, and you could see little ribbons of yellow mustard revealing the difficulty I was having getting the sauce to mix together plus it wasn't as thick as I remember barbecue sauce to be. Nevertheless, I forged on in the process. After adding the final ingredients, I put the raw pork loin in a ziploc bag and then filled it with the sauce. We marinated it for a while, then Jake used the sauce to occasionally baste the pork as he grilled it. He cooked it on the grill using charcoal and mesquite chips for 3 hours with indirect heat (smoking) at 300 to 350 degrees. He was in the grilling mood as you can tell. When he brought it inside, I was still skeptical but it was absolutely yummy! It had a definite mustard taste but it was spicy and sweet as well. I ate way more than I intended because I "sampled" quite a few pieces while he was slicing the loins.

We paired the pork loin with wheat rolls and asparagus that Jake had grilled in a foil packet for the last 10 minutes of cooking. On the asparagus, I sprinkled more of the Spicy Montreal Steak Seasoning (love the stuff!) and the juice of one lemon. It too was very tasty.

I will definitely make this delicious barbecue sauce again to use as a marinade. Although it thickened after cooling, it wasn't enough to make it a dipping sauce. Maybe I'll try it on chicken next time...

The Joy of Being a Mom

What a sweet girl! I love the feeling of Sloane's head on my shoulder. She has started to be aware of her surroundings including people. It is awesome to see her smile when she notices you looking at her.

Here is another cute picture of Sloane I took yesterday. Her hair is curly when wet, and getting longer everyday. She had just taken a bath and her hair formed one big Elvis curl down the middle of her head.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Open-Faced Turkey Joes

Open-Faced Turkey Joes
Makes 6 servings

1 (19.5 oz.) package of Italian turkey sausage, castings removed
1 (8 oz.) package of mushrooms, quartered
1/2 green bell pepper, finely chopped
1 (15.5 oz.) jar of spaghetti sauce
1 garlic clove minced
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
1 tsp. dried onion flakes
1/4 tsp. pepper
1 (12 oz.) French bread loaf
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup (1 oz.) shredded mozzerella cheese

1. Cook sausage in a Dutch oven over medium heat, stirring often, 10 minutes or until meat crumbles and is no longer pink; drain. Add mushrooms and bell pepper; cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, 5 minutes. Stir in next 5 ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and simmer, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes.
2. Preheat oven to 400. Cut bread in half lengthwise. Place bread, cut side up, on an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet. Bake 5-6 minutes until toasted.
3. Spoon sausage mixture onto toasted bread, and sprinkle with cheeses. Bake at 4oo for 5-7 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly.

Found in Southern Living Magazine, June 2008

From my experience:
This was a recipe that I had tagged to try when I first got the magazine but then never put my plan into action until now. Last week I needed something quick and easy since we were getting ready to go to Laredo with family for a long weekend getaway. Most of the ingredients I had on hand, so this was perfect. The Turkey Joes ended up tasting more like a heavy pizza, which in my opinion beats a sloppy joe anyday. I will definitely make this again; in fact because I was only making it for two, I froze half of the turkey mix for a later date!

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Recipe of the Week: Scripture Cake

Since I love to cook and collect food magazines, cookbooks, and random recipes, I am challenging myself to actually use them. Each week I will attempt a new recipe and then blog about it. This week I chose a dessert for our small group potluck. I thought the name of the cake was fitting and as you will see each ingredient had a scripture reference which made the recipe interesting to investigate. It was found in a cookbook collaborated from the families at my mom's church in Liberty Hill.

Scripture Cake

1/2 C. butter of margarine, Judges 5:25 3/4 tsp. cinnamon, 1 Kings 10:10
1 C. sugar, Jeremiah 6:20 1/2 tsp. cloves, all spice, nutmeg
3 eggs, separated, Isaiah 10:14 1/3 C. milk, Judges 4:19
1 T. honey, Exodus 16:31 1/2 C. blanched almonds, chopped,
2 C. flour, sifted, 1 Kings 4:22 Genesis 43:11
1/2 tsp. salt, Leviticus 2:13 1/2 C. dried figs, chopped, 1 Samuel 30:12
2 tsp. baking powder, 1 Corinthians 5:6 1/2 C. raisins, chopped

Preheat oven to 35o. Cream butter. Add sugar gradually, beating until light. Add egg yolks, one at a time, beating thoroughly after each. Beat in honey. Sift together flour, salt, baking powder, cinnamon, cloves, all spice, and nutmeg. Add alternately with milk and beat only until smooth. Stir in nuts and fruit. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites and pour into loaf pan (5x3) or a greased and floured 10x4 inch angel cake tube pan. Bake for 1 hour or until done. Cool cake in the pan for 5 minutes. Turn cake over to remove it from the pan. Turn cake right side up to cool.

From my experience:
I looked up all of the verses before making the cake, and found only one to be confusing since it didn't seem to relate to the particular ingredient. With that said, the concept was still intriguing and made the cake seem special since all of the ingredients were mention throughout the Bible.
For the recipe I made some switches base on what I already had in my pantry. For example I used sliced almonds instead of blanched and didn't chop them plus I used dried cranberries instead of figs. I also used half whole wheat flour and half regular baking flour and did not sift my dry ingredients. I baked my cake in a bundt pan and left it in the oven for about 5o minutes which might have been a little too long. Overall the cake had an appealing spice taste which everyone loved, however it came out dry and crumbly. If I tried using the whole wheat flour again, I would add maybe some applesauce to give it more moisture.