Monday, January 26, 2009

Dinner Impossible!

So, it used to be that I would actually think about what we were going to have for dinner. I remember scouring cookbooks on the weekends for hours, looking for the most perfect dish to use the remaining ingredients in our fridge. Post-baby, Frank does most of the scouring for recipes, and I am grateful for anything that comes my way that's not cheerios or cheese slices.

However, during this semester, I actually have cooking duty on MW. With crawling, curious, and post-daycare clingy baby. Fun times.

Here are my requirements for a meal:
1) Has to be done very very fast -- either with prep hours beforehand or with no-chop ingredients.
2) Has to be able to be eaten with one hand -- Knives + babies do not mix.
3) Has to be healthy, preferrably possible to feed to baby.
4) Did I mention it has to be made very fast?
5) Cannot require constant attention -- risotto is right out.
6) Preferrably can be prepared with one hand.

So with those thoughts, I am trying to find the easiest food imaginable to prepare. Today I'm going to try salmon in a teriyaki sauce with frozen veggies. Wish me luck!

Update -- apparently I didn't actually publish this yesterday, so I can tell you how it went :). We had a good meal -- the fish was very easy (here's the Recipe). I made twice the sauce in the baking dish before picking up K, then K and I went out to the store to get salmon and frozen veggies. At home, salmon went flesh-down in the baking dish in the fridge to marinate, until we were ready to eat. In went the salmon with the bread coated in Pam olive oil spray (yay Pam!), veggies were made while we waited. It took an extra 4 mins to cook the fish in our oven, but that's pretty much par for the course for our oven anyways.

So, all in all, tasty dinner done in 20 mins. Could be done one handed, very pleased!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Baking Day

Hi All --

I promised Mom my muffin and granola recipes, so here they are for everyone:
Jam Muffins:
Muffin pan (butter and flour pan (use PAM for baking-- EASY))
2.5 cups of AP flour
1.5 tsp cinnamon
.5 tsp Allspice
.5 tsp salt
.25 tsp ground cloves
3/4 cup buttermilk
3/4 and a pinch more baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, slightly firm
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 large eggs
1 cup of jam/preserves of your choice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup of nuts/dried fruit
Coarse sugar (like turbinado sugar) -- big crystals for garnish

1) Position rack in the lower third of oven, heat oven to 325
2) In a large bowl whisk together flour, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, salt and cloves
3) in a little bowl combine the buttermilk and baking soda. Let it stand for 7 to 8 mins
Cut butter into 1/2 inch cbes and blace in the bowl of the kitchenaid with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium speed until smooth and lighened in color, about 2 mins. Add the sugar 1-2 tablespoons at a time, taking about 3 minutes to get all the sugar in there. Add the brown sugar next, taking 2-3 mins in the same manner. Scrape down the side of the bowl regularly to get all the sugar to combine with the butter.
4) Add the eggs, oneat a time, beating for 1 minute before adding antoher egg.
5) Add in the jam and vanilla. The mix will look curdled but it will look a LOT better once the flour is added.
6) Reduce mixer speed to wlow, add the flour mix alternately with the buttermilk mixture -- flour, buttermilk, flour, buttermilk, flour (divide into parts). Mix until just blended after each addition. Scrape down the sides of the bowl as needed.
7) Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold in your nut/fruit mix.
8) Spoon the batter into your butter/floured muffin pan. Give it a tap to make sure the batter settles. Take your good large-grain sugar and sprinkle on each muffin -- this will give you a nice hard top.
9) Put in oven -- it takes about 35 minutes in my oven, but check after 20. They are done when you can stick a knife or fork in one and it doesn't come out goopy.
10) As soon as they are done, give them about 2 mins to settle in, then pop them out over a metal rack (or a dish towel). Let them cool, then pop into a tupperware or freeze them individually.

You need a flat rimmed pan
Wet and sticky ingredients -- 1 cup
-- you can use maple syrup, molasses/water, honey (not for kids under 2), etc. Vanilla extract is nice (1/2 cup)
The flakey stuff: 8 cups
--Rolled oats, wheat/rye/millet flakes, bran flakes
The nuts and seeds stuff -- 1 cup
--hazlenuts, almons, pecans, sunflower seeds, sesame seeds, etc
The fruits -- 1 cup
--cranberries, raisins, currants, blueberries, dates, apricots, mangoes, whatever

1) Heat the oven to 250.
2) Mix the flakes nuts and seeds into a big bowl (no fruit yet). Stir in the gooey stuff -- eyeball it, you want some pieces to clump together, but not all of it, you also want it not to be all liquidy. So add dry and wet ingredients so you have a clumpy/individual ratio that you like in your granola.
3) Spread the mixture out on your flat sheet. Bake in the oven for about one hour - check every 20 mins or so and stir up your granola. When the granola is slightly brown, take it up.
4) While it's still warm, drop it into a bowl with the dried fruit. Cool it off, then put in airtight containers. Works great with yogurt, soy milk, milk, ice cream, etc.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Hi All --

Sorry for not posting photos of our holiday trip pronto. Between work eating up my free time, two daycare closure days, and the fact that all of my electronics died as soon as I came back from HI, it's been difficult to get anything useful done.

However here are the pictures: