Lucinda’s Veggies

February 28, 2009

On the Feb 17 Martha Stewart Show, Lucinda Scala Quinn made two vegetable dishes from Everyday Food I was dying to try – Carmelized Green Beanswith Nuts and Buttery Broccoli with Parsley. Can I just say that I love Lucinda? When she comes on the show it is like a breath of fresh air. She is so calm and controlled and she is also beautiful. I like Sarah Carey, but Sarah always seems a little ill at ease with Martha. She’s always apologizing for making a mess or not doing it Martha’s way, but Lucinda and Martha act like they are equals and are very comfortable with each other and in tune. I also think Lucinda has very good taste, so I was excited to give these a try.

brocWe eat a lot of broccoli in this house. It’s one of the few vegetables everyone will eat. Also, Teen Martha’s boyfriend (Shorty) is mad about my broccoli. He just loves it, so whenever Shorty stays for dinner, I try to make it. Usually I boil or steam my broccoli, similar to the method Lucinda uses. This recipe then says to add butter, parsley and some white vinegar to the broccoli. I really did not feel the parsley did much at all. And I was not wild about the vinegar, and in fact didn’t feel you could really taste it very much. I’ll stick with my regular broccoli I think. When I want to dress up my broccoli, I add some toasted pecans and brown butter.

Now, the carmelized green beans are another story. This is a completely newcarmelized-gr-beans method for me. Lucinda says to heat some oil and then add your beans and cook on medium low, partly covered, for 30 min. At the end, you add some pine nuts. The beans become sliglty brown on the outside and very soft. The process really did make them sweeter and easier to eat. I loved it! Teen Martha even liked it and she normally does not like beans. This was a true hit and I will be making it again. Thanks Lucinda.

Teen Martha Bakes

February 27, 2009

My teenage daughter eagerly awaits the delivery of each issue of Martha Stewart Living. She goes through the magazine and makes a list of all the things she wants to make from it, then never has time. Yesterday, though, she wanted to make cookies, so I suggested she try the Peanut Butter Chocolate Chunk cookies in March Everyday Food.

pb-choc-chip1She mixed up the sugar, peanut butter, and butter then added eggs, vanilla and dry ingredients. The dough was very crumbly and did not come together at all. She stirred in the chocolate chips (we didn’t have any chocolate to chop) and then tried to use the little cookie scoop we have to make the cookies, but it would not form. Finally she ended up forming them by hand, but as you can see in the photo, they were very crumbly.

She made them larger than the recipe called for, because it was nearly impossible to get smaller ones to stay together. They took longer to bake than the recipe said because they were so large.

pb-choc-chip2As they baked, they did not spread at all, which we thought to be surprising. The end result was a very nice cookie. Since they didn’t spread, they remained nicely formed. The peanut butter flavor was very mild and you might not realize it was a peanut butter dough right away. They were just the right mix of crunch and softness. A good thing! Nice job Teen Martha!

Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes

February 26, 2009

I’ve been through March Martha Stewart Living and this issue is primarily about gardening. I’m not a great gardener by any means, so I do want to learn from it, but it’s winter in Buffalo with snow on the ground. There isn’t going to be any gardening to be done around here for months yet, so Martha has left me with not much to do in this issue! Therefore, I have turned to Everyday Food and will be making several recipes from there this month.

The recipe for Baked Penne with Chicken and Sun-Dried Tomatoes looked good and it looked pretty easy. That is until I went to the pantry and discovered the box of penne I have is more than half empty, so I substituted rigatoni. A small cheat.

Now, can I just say that my definition of easy, everyday cooking does not involve three pots for one dish? In this recipe you’re supposed to cook the pasta in one, cook the chicken breast in another, and make the sauce in a third. That’s a lot of clean up in my opinion.

Despite that, this was a snap to make. I boiled the noodles and while they drained, I made the sauce in that pot (thus getting down to 2 pots which definitely made me happier!). The sauce was quite easy to make – cook garlic and flour in butter ( used half olive oil and half butter – trying to be heart healthy!). Then whisk in milk (I always use skim milk instead of the whole milk Martha uses in every recipe and never have a problem). Next you add mushrooms and sundried tomatoes, then cheese. Add the chicken and pasta, put it in a dish, sprinkle some cheese over it, and in it goes into the oven.

I cut this recipe in half – Martha wants you to make two pans of it and freeze one. I love doing that, but I won’t do it with a new recipe because then you could end up with double the amount of inedible food!

chicken-penneI regretted that decision though because this was DELICIOUS! Really, truly fabulous. I was a little nervous when I scooped the first spoonful out (which is when I remembered to take the photo, so pardon the messy area), because at first it seemed like it might be a little runny, but it actually was not.

This was creamy, cheesy and just perfect. I usually do not like sundried tomatoes, but in this recipe they worked wonderfully. I think I might like a little more chicken than it contains. There is only one chicken breast in the whole pan, so increasing that would make this feel a little more like a main dish. I cannot wait to have leftovers for lunch today.

So now kids, this is what I’m wondering. This is one of my first forays into Everyday Food and it was a home run (truly a “good thing”). Do we think maybe those recipes are better in general? What are your thoughts?

Twitter With Me

February 25, 2009

MarthaandMe is now on Twitter – @MarthaAndMeBlog.

Are you on Twitter? If so, I’d love to follow you. Send me your username.

Fat Tuesday

February 25, 2009

In recent years, I’ve begun doing something special for Mardi Gras. It was never something we celebrated as a kid, but I find that by this time of year, everyone can use a little celebration to help them get through the winter doldrums.

paczkiLast year I made a king cake. This year, I bought paczkis.  Never heard of these? I’ll bet Martha has since they are a Polish tradition (a search of her site didn’t turn anything up – so I say Martha needs to do a show about these).

You used to have to go to a few specific bakeries in our area to find them, but now our grocery stores carry them for Fat Tuesday. Paczkis (pronounced “poonch-keys”) are similar to a jelly donut, but have a different texture. They are a bit heavier – like fried dough. They are filled with jelly or custard cream and are glazed, sugared, or powdered sugared. They are incredibly delicious!

I found this recipe online, although I haven’t tried it myself. If you’ve made them, let me know. Maybe next year I will make them myself.

Pantry Prep

February 24, 2009

On the Feb 17th Martha Stewart show, Martha talked about pantries – what should be in yours and how to make inexpensive meals using pantry items.

My messy pantry

My messy pantry

When we moved to this house I was so excited to actually have a real pantry. It’s a closet built over the basement stairs and it has lots of shelves and space to keep food. Almost all of my dried and canned goods are kept in this pantry.

Martha and guest Anna Last (Everyday Food Editor) talked about what should be in your pantry and I thought the list was good. I have every single item on the list!

– Canned tomatoes

– Tuna

– Black beans

– Chick peas

– Breadcrumbs

– Panko

– Pasta

– Rice

– Mustard

– Vinegar

– Olive oil

– Chicken stock

– Mustard

– Salt

– Pepper

– Capers

– Anchovies

There are a few other things that are always in my pantry. Martha might not agree with them though!

– Mac and cheese. I know. Martha would think it’s gross, but when you have kids, sometimes they really do want the orange box stuff.

– Beef stock

– Bouillon cubes. Sometimes I add these to soup when it is tasting a little weak.

– Tomato paste

– Spaghetti sauce. I like to make my own, but it is very labor intensive to peel 50 tomatoes and then end up with enough for only one or two meals.

– Dried herbs. Are we all pronouncing the ‘H’ in herbs? I have a pretty large collection of herbs and spices.

– Different salts. My family loves exotic salts from around the world and they are especially good on steak.

– Balsamic vinegar. Mini-Martha will only use this as a salad dressing and nothing else.

– Tamari sauce, hoisin, fish sauce, teriyaki sauce, and rice wine vinegar are my Asian must-haves in the pantry.

– Canned soup. I always have a can or two of soup around, organic if possible, because you never know when someone is going to get sick and really want a bowl of soup.

– Kidney beans. I use these in chili and other Mexican dishes.

– A jar of minced garlic. I know, Martha would yell, but fresh garlic doesn’t last forever and I like to have a jar of this just in case.

– A jar of pesto. Another item Martha would disparage, but I love the way it tastes and fresh basil is not easy to come by in the winter.

What are your must-have pantry items? Do you agree with Martha?

Didn’t you love how Martha was doing a show about affordable meals and yet mentioned how she goes into her grocery store and buys every single type of pasta (over 30 types) that they sell?! She can afford to do that, but most people watching her show can’t. And even if they could, who has the space to store over 30 types of pasta?Things like this make me wonder how in touch Martha is with the rest of us. Does she not realize not everyone can do this? Or is she aware, but simply doesn’t care how extravagant it makes her look?

I also loved how Martha told Margot Olshan how she has a rosemary tree and Margo said something snarky like “I’m not surprised”. I actually had a rosemary plant I kept in the house for a few years, but then eventually I killed it.

Vacationing with Martha

February 23, 2009
On the Beach

On the Beach

While I was away, I thought a bit about Martha. Now obviously, I can’t whisk myself away to a top notch spa or to a private island as Martha has recently, but I did try to approach my time off with some Martha attitude.

One big thing I did was exercise. Usually I see vacation as a time to just sit, but I’ve gotten to the point where I have trouble sleeping if I don’t exercise regularly. On this break, I swam every day for 30 to 45 minutes and it was wonderful. Usually I walk for exercise and it was a nice change. Unfortunately, I did not have a pool boy holding a towel and a cool drink for me when I got out of the pool, but it felt luxurious nonetheless.

Another thing I did that was very Martha was eat out a lot. It sounds like Martha eats in restaurants more than she eats at home, to hear her talk on the show. I love getting away from the kitchen and having someone else cook for me, but unfortunately, I suspect I am a lot like Martha in that I am very, very picky. I can’t stand wasting my time or money on bad food. We had some very good meals in restaurants and others that made me roll my eyes. I did cook a few nights, mostly because there are some things (particularly seafood) I want done absolutely perfectly right. My mother says that if you want to lose weight, eat out a lot and she’s right because you cannot count on getting delicious perfectly made food, even in the most expensive of restaurants.

I was thrilled to be able to shop at a Whole Foods while we were away, since we don’t have any in our area, but disappointed to find that the organic produce was really quite limited.

I did a little shopping and bought a few things for our almost done newly remodeled bathroom.

The March issue of Living was waiting for me when I got home, so I’m all set to dive in!

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