Monday, March 29, 2010

Kitchen Challenge – Week 4

Up this week we have Beef Wellington.

Beef Wellington

I used this recipe (they say it’s Julia Child’s recipe – I don’t know for sure).

My first issue was Monkey.  While making the marinade, she managed to get into my spice cabinet and got the garlic powder open and decided to add some to the pot cooking slowly on the stove.  I do believe that is all she got in – and I do believe it was just a small shake. 

Then Monkey decided to help with the mushroom mixture.  I got the wine set up to the side, waiting to put it in when the mushrooms were ready.  I turned around to give Little Man more pieces of sweet potato and she took her opportunity to grab the wine and dump it into the mushrooms – way earlier than it should have gone in.  I cooked off all of the liquid and added another splash in hopes of it having the right concentration of wine flavor in the mushrooms.

And THEN Monkey took it upon herself to dump the marinade mixture into the mushroom mixture (again, while I was tending to her little brother).  Monkey had it in her head how this dish was supposed to be done and she didn’t like my way, apparently.  I think I did a good job salvaging it when I took out as much as I possibly could with a spoon. 

I’m not sure if the sauce should have been strained.  The instructions said nothing of it, but I would have preferred the sauce without the extra chunky bits from the marinade in it. 

SO, even with all of that working against me, it turned out delicious.  The individual sections of this dish were really easy.  Doing it all at once with a cranky (sick) baby and an extremely mischievous 2 year old…  I wouldn’t recommend it. 

How did yours turn out (Is anyone else trying these? Anyone?  ANYONE?)? 

Remember the rules – you need to post a picture and the recipe you used on your blog and post your post link in the comments (or for non-bloggers, on the LTRLT fan page on Facebook).  Deadline for submitting is Friday.

This week is Napoleons.  I’m very much looking forward to this one.  I do believe I’ll be making the puff pastry at the same time instead of buying it – meaning this week will probably be a two-fer. 

Enjoy your kitchens!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Squeaky cheese…


I’ve done it, dear readers.  I’ve gone and made cheese.

During my semi-weekly blog perusal, one of my regulars made some mozzarella cheeseThis is a different recipe than the one I had seen in the past and had originally planned to use but followed it instead.

Do yourselves a favor: If you plan on attempting to make cheese, be sure you have a thermometer that registers temperatures as low as 90.  Mine started working at 80 degrees on the initial run on heat.  When I put the mixture over heat a second time, my thermometer registered “HI.”  Friendly bugger – a lot of good that did me.

Everything I’ve read about making cheese says to not use ultra-pasteurized milk and local milk is better.  I used a gallon of Hood whole milk (it’s not ultra-pasteurized).

Other than the thermometer snafu, it was remarkably easy.  It probably took me closer to an hour and a half to make, start to finish – but for a first time run, I don’t consider that bad (I was tending to the tots at the same time, so I always have to factor in extra time right there!).  Also, I forgot to add the salt but a friend suggested storing it in water and putting a little of my cheese salt into the water.  (I’m going to do that as soon as I’m done here).

A better thermometer is on my list to pick up this weekend.  I will be making this again – probably quite often.

Another thing off of my winter check list…  even though it’s technically spring. 

Enjoy your kitchens!


I’ve linked up over on Funky Junk Interiors Saturday Night Special!


Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Sweet Treats

AB Cocoa Brownies

A few weeks ago, I made some treats to deliver to a friend.  I decided to try Alton Brown’s Cocoa Brownie recipe.

I was traveling them to Fort Kent so decided to use my muffin tin instead of putting them in a square pan.  It also made it easier for me to taste test one rather than stealing a square (I couldn’t bring a treat to someone untested!).

I know Alton says to sift everything, but I didn’t.  I was packing for our long weekend and just started throwing this together – and threw everything into the mixer before focusing on “sift” in the instructions. 

They were really good and really easy to make.  I like the cupcake servings, too.  It’s a much neater presentation than all of the crumbs you make when cutting up a brownie.  I intend to make these again – many times.  Boxed brownies should be outlawed because it didn’t take any longer to put these together than a box and they are much better tasting!

Enjoy your kitchens!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Kitchen Challenge – Week 3

Week 3 was mole. 


No, not the rodent. 

Mole is a Mexican sauce.  This one posed a problem for me.  I couldn’t find dried Ancho peppers at the grocery store.  That’s part of the fun cooking in the boonies.  After a search online, I found I could substitute 1/2 teaspoon of chili powder for each pepper.  Probably not quite the same, but I didn’t have many options without zig zagging through the city of Bangor for something I more than likely wasn’t going to find at the other stores, either.  (I checked 3 different ones).

I used the Rick Bayless Smoky Peanut Mole recipe – made by Cookin’ Canuck with Pork Tenderloin (found here).  I paired it with Saffron rice (from a pouch – I’ve got 2 kiddos not feeling well and needed easy peasy!) 

The mole itself really wasn’t difficult – nor time consuming since I was skipping the dried peppers step.  The smell while it was cooking reminded me of cabbage rolls, which made me nervous because I don’t like cabbage rolls!  It didn’t taste like them, though.  It was ok – not something I’d want to make on a very regular basis, but we thought it was pretty good (Monkey didn’t try it – sick kiddos and all that – she doesn’t have much of an appetite). 

How did yours turn out (Is anyone else trying it out?)? 

Remember the rules – you need to post a picture and the recipe you used on your blog and post your post link in the comments (or for non-bloggers, on the LTRLT fan page on Facebook).  Deadline for submitting is Friday.

This week is Beef Wellington.  I’m looking forward to this one.

Enjoy your kitchens!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Flat Stanley does Maine

For those of you who don’t know Flat Stanley… (From Wikipedia)

Stanley Lambchop and his younger brother Arthur are given a big bulletin board by their Dad for putting pictures and posters on. He hangs it on the wall over Stanley's bed, but during the night the board falls from the wall, flattening Stanley in his sleep. He survives and makes the best of his altered state, and soon he is entering locked rooms by sliding under the door, and playing with his younger brother by being used as a kite. Stanley even helps catch some art museum sneak thieves by posing as a painting on the wall. But one special advantage is that Flat Stanley can now visit his friends by being mailed in an envelope.

Remember those imaginary friends I told you about?  One of them was given Flat Stanley by her niece (or maybe nephew?  Drat…  I don’t remember) for a school project.  He’s been to Portugal, St. Martens, Denver, Boston.. and most recently, Maine.

Flat Stanley fed the chickens:

IMG_1414Then he snuggled in the car between the kids for a 4 hour drive to Fort Kent.

Flat Stanley enjoyed the Can Am Sled Dog Races:


Flat Stanley saw the end of Route 1:


Flat Stanley went on a hike to Fish River Falls (He considered going for a dip and then decided it looked too cold):


Flat Stanley then went to visit the 10th Mountain Lodge (home of world cup biathlon):


It turns out, Flat Stanley is a lousy shot:


Flat Stanley then went to visit the Blockhouse (the Fort in Fort Kent, you see):


Flat Stanley enjoyed Mt. Katahdin in the distance  (I couldn’t chance stopping for a better picture because we had 2 sleeping babes in the back seat – waking them could have been disastrous for the level of peace for the remainder of the ride):


Flat Stanley really wanted to see Paul Bunyan and Stephen King, but we kept forgetting to bring the camera and he really needed to head out to his next destination… 

See you next time, Flat Stanley!  Safe travels!  (Sad – the camera ate my picture of him driving off on a big rig.)

Monday, March 15, 2010

Kitchen Challenge – Week 2

Week 2 was coq au vin. 

Coq Au Vin

Once again, I went to Alton Brown.  This was by far one of the most labor intensive meals I have ever prepared.  Like the soufflé, I didn’t find it difficult.  It just took a long time (not to mention it sits in the fridge overnight).

I used frozen pearl onions, eliminating the first step (boil & peel).  And I used Cabernet because we happen to have quite a few bottles in our “wine cellar.”

It got great reviews around the table (well, minus Little Man – he refuses to move past 2nd foods, so he’s still on jars until I can start grinding my cooking for him.  Stubborness.)  I can see making this again down the road – perhaps when we have visit for dinner.

How did yours turn out? 

Remember the rules – you need to post a picture and the recipe you used on your blog and post your post link in the comments (or for non-bloggers, on the LTRLT fan page on Facebook).  Deadline for submitting is Friday.

This week is mole.  I’ll admit, I’m nervous.  It doesn’t sound very enticing to me.  But, I’m willing to give it a whirl!

Enjoy your kitchens!

Life changes….

You can probably tell by now that something big is happening in my life when I’m quiet. 

Some of you who know me may already know this…  others probably don’t have a clue.  It’s not something I’ve ever really talked about..  it’s one of those really personal things that isn’t a secret..  just that I tried to not think about it. 

The abridged version: My mom had me young.  She didn’t stay with my biological father (who was also young).  When she married my dad when I was 4, they got my biological father to sign adoption paperwork and that was that.  He had never been involved in my life – but dad had always been there…  and at that age, I didn’t really fully understand everything going on.  At this point, it doesn’t really matter.  It is what it is. 

Last week, I got up one morning to find a Facebook notification in my e-mail inbox saying I’d received a message from Bio-F.  Shock, tears, complete emotional upheaval ensue. 

I didn’t know what to think.  I didn’t know how to feel.  I always knew he was out there – I guess I just didn’t expect him to be right here. 

After a few days of letting it sink in and a heart to heart with my dad, many long phone calls with my mom and even lots of talking it out with my “imaginary” friends online (different perspectives – and some of them have been in similar situations), I’ve found peace within again. 

God wouldn’t have brought him into my life for nothing.  Everything in life happens for a reason.  I may not be able to see why right now, but it doesn’t really matter.  Our experiences mold us, make us who we are.  We don’t stop growing once we become adults…  if anything, I’ve grown more (figuratively) as an adult than I did as a child.  And I wouldn’t have been emotionally ready to hear from him earlier.  I’m at a good place in life now.  I can handle this. 

We’ve been e-mailing back and forth – just getting to know each other.  It’s weird to see that though I’ve always said “Nurture over Nature”….  nature really was at play in my life anyways.  Guess where I got my love to cook?  Or how about liking to talk?  I’m sure we’ll uncover other things in common as time goes on.

Who knows where we go from here…  but at least there is peace.  We’ll cross that bridge when we get there.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Kitchen Challenge – Week 1

Time to check in on the kitchen challenge!


Week 1 was to  make a soufflé.  I used Alton Brown’s Cheese Soufflé recipe

My soufflé turned out perfectly.  It puffed up just right and didn’t deflate until I scooped out servings.  I have to be honest and say I didn’t find it that difficult to make.  The most difficult part about it was having the kids on my feet, which was completely my own fault.  I should have made it on Sunday like I had originally planned so T could entertain the kids for me (I won’t make that mistake again!).

My non-egg eater (T) was a champ and gave it a try.  He obviously didn’t like it.  Monkey didn’t eat much of it but she’s been eating like a bird for the past couple of weeks.  I was also not a fan.  I’m not that big on eggs either and have to be in the mood for them.  The consistency of this was a major turn off.  I think for anyone who enjoys eggs the dish would be delicious, though.

How did yours turn out? 

Remember the rules – you need to post a picture and the recipe you used on your blog and post your post link in the comments (or for non-bloggers, on the LTRLT fan page on Facebook).  Deadline for submitting is Friday.

This week is coq au vin.  Chicken.  Wine.  How could this not be good?

Enjoy your kitchens!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Recipes of the week(s)

I didn’t share any last week.  Just when I’d gone and gotten myself all caught up, too.   I’ll keep it simple because I have a lot to share.


First, do you remember my green bean concoction from a few weeks ago? 

I sautéed a chopped shallot in a splash of olive oil. I then added green beans and a splash of chicken broth and cooked it until it was warmed through. I added a handful of toasted pecan pieces to the finished product. It was really tasty. I will say my green beans were a little soggy - but I would expect that since I was using some of my frozen garden stash. With fresh beans, I'd cook them to crisp tender. I also had a thought yesterday that adding a small handful of chopped prosciutto before serving would be another good variation to this. YUMMY!

I used almond slivers this time.  I can’t wait to have our fresh garden stash as opposed to the ones I have frozen from last summer!   There are endless variations you can make of this.

Chicken, Mushroom and Radicchio Lasagna was pretty good.  It’s the first time we have radicchio and I’ll admit we were both nervous when we tasted it after it was wilted/mixed into the mushrooms.  It was really bitter, but that bitterness baked off.  It was really time consuming to put together, though.  I’m still up in the air as to if I want to save it or not because it was so labor intensive.


Barbecued Chicken Pizza was really easy and really yummy.  It was a spur of the moment dinner so I didn’t have any zucchini but I put mushrooms instead.  Delicious.

Baked Pasta e Fagioli was alright.  Monkey wasn’t crazy about it, but T and I liked it well enough.  I’m not sure if I’m going to save this one either, though.  “Well enough” doesn’t mean an automatic spot in my recipe box.


I was very “meh” about Chicken Pot Pizza.  T enjoyed it and Monkey picked out what she wanted (the chicken and crust).  I found the sauce needed something.  I’m going to try it again and maybe add some thyme or wine to the sauce to give it something extra. 

Broccoli Calzones were pretty tasty.  T didn’t like the Pastry Crust dough the recipe called for so I’ll probably use my own pizza dough when I try the other filling recipe we were interested in in that article.


Image from Fresh Magazine

Beer-Braised Kielbasa with Cabbage and Mustard Sauce was really good.  I think I’ll make it again on St. Patrick’s day because it just feels like a good Irish dish. 


Okinawan Gyoza was shared with me by one of LTRLT’s fans on facebook.

  • 4-5 leaves chinese cabbage, minced
  • 1 bunch nira, minced (I used chives)
  • 2 large green onions, minced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small piece of ginger, grated
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp white pepper
  • Dash of Japanese soy sauce
  • 1 tbs sesame oil
  • 1 tbs peanut oil
  • 1 pound ground pork
  • 4-5 minced shitake mushrooms
  • Gyoza skins (wonton wrappers)

Pour boiling water over cabbage and allow to sit for 30 seconds, then drain and rinse with cold water.  Combine with remaining ingredients and mix coarsely with fingers.  Place a tablespoon of filling in gyoza skins and crimp edges.  Place a small amount of oil in frying pan and heat.  Place gyoza in pan and fry over medium heat until lightly browned on one side.  Add 3 tbs of water to pan and cover.  Allow gyoza to steam a couple of minutes.  Serve with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and sesame oil.

My wrappers only took a teaspoon of filling.  I ended up cooking up the remaining filling at the end because Monkey didn’t like the skins but loved the filling.  We also found it salty, but I may have put more than the recipe called for (not sure – it was a hectic evening).  I also over browned them – like I said, it was a hectic evening.  This is an absolute keeper.

Last but not least is Pork Roast with Sherry-Plum Sauce.  This is a slow cooker dinner.  I had no plum sauce on hand and didn’t want to go to the store and a friend suggested I try blueberry jam instead.  T RAVED over dinner.  I got lots of “This is REALLY good.” as opposed to the usual “It’s fine.” comments.  Monkey loved it, too.  This is also an absolute keeper.

Also, don’t forget about the kitchen challenge!  Make your soufflés this week and we’ll check in on Monday to see how they turned out!

Enjoy your kitchens!

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