Martha’s Find: Raye’s Mustard

September 22, 2009

rayes mustardLast week, on one of the new season’s episodes of her tv show, Martha introduced viewers to her latest ‘find’ – Raye’s Mustard, which she discovered in Maine. She showed several varieties and raved about the mustard. So of course I had to try it. I ordered a 4 oz jar of the Down East Schooner Mustard. The jar was $2.75 (reasonable) however the shipping was $9.95!

Despite the outrageous price tag, I kept an open mind about the mustard. And I’m glad I did. Because it was good. In this house we have several mustards in the fridge – store brand yellow, Gray Poupon country style Dijon, store brand honey mustard and Nance’s sweet hot mustard. In general, I am not a big mustard fan, but Mr. MarthaAndMe is. We sampled this mustard and while it is a basic yellow mustard, it was much, much better than store brand yellow mustard. It had a purer mustard flavor and had no aftertaste. We really liked it. I’ll give this find a thumbs up (but I probably won’t be footing the $10 shipping cost again).

Bookmark and Share


Martha Mondays: Donation Bag

September 21, 2009

mondaysThis week’s Martha Mondays assignment was a donation bag. I loved this idea.  I try to take a bag to Goodwill once a month or so but I generally toss items into a closet and let them pile up and then stuff them into a bag when I’m ready to take them.  Martha’s suggestion was to designate a bag you keep things in. This actually is a really donation baggood idea. Not only does it keep it all together, but it makes it easy to grab and go when you get a chance to drop it off. Seeing the bag hanging there also reminds you to look for items to put in it and to regularly take the bag to be donated. Inspired by this, I’ve also designated an area in my pantry to pile up food pantry items. In the past I’ve tried to make mental notes of what I should donate from my pantry but I almost always forget. Now I’ve got an area set aside for those items so I won’t forget. I’ve also designated a shelf in a cupboard in my office for book donations to my local library. It’s amazing how a very simple project like this can make you feel so very efficient!

I haven’t heard back yet from the Martha Mondays member who is scheduled to choose for this week, but when I do, I’ll post her pick.

Bookmark and Share


Halloween Blondies

September 20, 2009

blondieI have a long history with blondies. My friend Jean, who lived down the street from me, used to make the best blondies. We would bake them together all summer at her house. I have fond memories of mixing up blondies, putting them in the oven and swimming in her in-ground pool (such a big deal!) while they baked. We would get out dripping wet and eat them while watching General Hospital. Heaven.

I thought they were so good, I shared the recipe with my home ec class in junior high when the teacher gave extra credit for bringing in a recipe. I still have the original piece of notebook paper I wrote the recipe on and took to school.

Mr. MarthaandMe is a big blondie fan. He doesn’t like chocolate a lot (I know, I still can’t accept that), so blondies have always been one of his favorites. My kids have grown up eating Jean’s blondie recipe too. So we’re definitely blondie aficionados here.

With that history, obviously I had to make the Halloween Blondies on the last page of October Martha Stewart Everyday Food.

The recipe was quick and simple – butter, sugar, egg, vanilla, flour, salt and fall colored M&Ms to put on top. I couldn’t find those fall colored M&Ms though! I did find Reese’s pieces in orange, yellow and brown so I bought those.

This is the first Martha recipe I’ve ever made that was done before the time it said. These were ready for me in about 40 minutes, as opposed to the 45-50 minutes the recipe says.

As you can see from the photo, the hungry hands in this house got into these before I could even take a photo. These were pretty good, but first of all, using the Reese’s pieces was a mistake. It really needs chocolate. Secondly, this recipe has too much salt. I would cut it in half.  Other than that, these were good. And the colored candies on top are really cute. This would be a great bake sale item.

Because Martha would, I’m going to share Jean’s recipe for blondies with you, which I think is better than Martha’s.

Jean’s Blondies

2 cups flour

1 tsp baking powder

1 tsp salt

2/3 cup unsalted butter

2 cups brown sugar

2 eggs

2 tsp vanilla

1 cup chopped nuts

1 cup chocolate chips

Heat oven to 350. Melt butter, add sugar and stir till dissolved. Add eggs and vanilla and stir. Mix in flour, baking powder and salt. Pour into a rectangular baking pan. Sprinkle chocolate chips and nuts on top. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes.

Bookmark and Share


Spinach with Nutmeg and Lemon

September 19, 2009

spinach lemonI was thrilled to see the section on side dishes in October Martha Stewart Everyday Food. I get tired of making the same old veggies the same old way. Spinach with Nutmeg and Lemon caught my eye since I love spinach.

This is a very simple recipe  – you just wilt your spinach, add salt, pepper and nutmeg. It says to serve with lemon wedges (and never says to add lemon juice) so I added it into the dish itself. The lemon juice intensifies the spinach flavor, but I found it to be a little too sour for me. The nutmeg is a nice flavor to add though. As you can see, some of my spinach turned brown, which was really weird. I may not have checked it over as thoroughly as I should have.

Bookmark and Share


Chicken Potpie

September 18, 2009

Chicken potpie is definitely a fall dish. As the leaves start to show some color and the air grows cooler, I’m definitely in the mood to make warm comfort foods like this. Martha’s got a whole section on comfort foods in October Martha Stewart Everyday Food.

Carrots and onions

Carrots and onions

The chicken potpie recipe is pretty easy and almost identical to the way I usually make it. Martha says to start with cooked chicken, but I needed to poach some breasts. Once that was done, I cooked onion and carrot (next time I would slice the carrot thinner or parboil it – it was a little crunchy in the final product). Make a roux, add chicken stock and cook till it thickens. I added more flour than the recipe calls for because I like to have a very thick gravy. Then add in the chicken, add seasoning (the recipe calls for thyme, but I also added rosemary).

Roux

Roux

This recipe makes individual potpies, which is a good idea. Potpie always looks so cute but then you go to serve it and it runs all over the plate. Making individual bowls worked out well. You top your potpie with puff pastry (sometimes I make a pie crust and add cheddar cheese to it).

The most annoying part of this recipe was the refrigerating steps. You’re

Filling

Filling

supposed to make the filling, then refrigerate it. Then you’re supposed to cut up the puff pastry, assemble it and refrigerate again. It just adds in so much time to do these steps.

I made this on a crazy week night when I was running in and out of the house driving kids around. I made the filling in the afternoon and then put the lids on at one stop back at the house and refrigerated them while I was gone and baked them when I got back. I forgot to brush the tops with egg, but they still turned out nicely I think.

Ready to eat

Ready to eat

Everyone ate this, which was amazing. It tasted good, but was so identical to the way I normally make this that no one was wowed by it.

This recipe says it serves 4, but I filled these 4 generous sized bowls and had a lot left over. I could easily have fed one or two more people. I froze the extra and will break it out some night when it’s just Mr. MarthaandMe and me for dinner.

Bookmark and Share


Martha’s Recipe Contest

September 17, 2009

The folks over at Martha Stewart Living Radio asked me to help get the word out about this:

Martha’s got a new book on the way– Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home— and it’s all about simple, delicious and seasonal meals that you can quickly whip up in your own kitchen.
In a true “Dinner at Home” spirit, Martha Stewart Living Radio on Sirius XM is having a recipe contest! We’re asking you to submit your best dinner dish. The recipe should be one dish (not an entire meal) and can include up to 8 ingredients (not including spices). The meal also has to be easy and breezy — it shouldn’t take longer than 45 minutes to prepare and cook. Lastly, don’t forget to include a photo of your delicious dish.
We’ll be accepting recipe submissions until September 24, 2009. Please email all recipes to radio@marthastewart.com. Two winners will receive signed copies of “Martha Stewart’s Dinner at Home: 52 Quick Meals to Cook for Family and Friends” and a radio prize package. (You can find all of the details on our radio page).
Once we go through all the submissions, we’ll post our top 10 recipes in the span of two weeks. During the week of September 27, 2009, we’ll post the first five recipes on the radio blog. Vote for your favorite dish! “Everyday Food” host Sandy Gluck will make the dish that garnered the most votes and discuss it on air. During the following week, starting October 4, 2009, we’ll post the remaining “top 5” dishes, and you can vote on your favorite dish. Good luck dinner divas!

Stovetop Mac and Cheese

September 17, 2009

mac cheeseMy October issue of Everyday Food arrived yesterday and I dove right in. I had to try the Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese. Mac and cheese is always a big hit in this house.

It starts with cooking some onions, creating a roux and then adding milk. This recipe created a very milky sauce – 4 cups of milk to 3/4 lb cheese. I wasn’t happy with this at all. I ended up dumping in some Velveeta I had lying around (necessary for my grandmother’s cheese potatoes recipe which I made a few weeks and Velveeta never dies – seriously I think it would survive a nuclear attack). This helped it a lot. The recipe also calls for some Dijon mustard and Worchestershire.

I made the sauce and went to add it to the pasta and there was WAY too much. I only used half of the cheese sauce (I stuck the rest in the fridge and will use some on cauliflower tonight I think). I did add Velveeta, but I didn’t add that much, so I don’t know why this was so out of whack. I would suggest making it with a lot less milk – possibly just 2 cups.

As for taste — Eh. It was just eh. Personally I think the mac and cheese recipe Martha has in her Cooking School book is the best one there is, so I would stick with that in the future. This was easy to make and it was good, but not the best I’ve ever had.

Bookmark and Share


Whitewashing Gone Wrong

September 16, 2009
Before

Before

Martha had a section in September Living about whitewashing wood. I actually love the look of it and was inspired to try some myself. Now, I’ll admit up front I didn’t do much research into the hows of this.

I took a cabinet at the family lake house that is hideously orange. When we ordered it, it was described as “natural” color, but it definitely is orange. It needed help. We put it out in the sun and found some off-white pain. At first I thought I would just dry brush it on, but that didn’t work. So I ended up using a wet rag. It worked well in some places, but not others. I think the sun caused it to dry too quickly, so I couldn’t really wipe much off in some places.

After

After

The bottom door is the worst – the drawers actually turned out quite well.  The paint on the door dried too quickly for me to wipe much off. I’m going to have to do more work on this the next time we’re out there. Now I’m wondering if I maybe I should just paint the whole thing white and be done with it.

Bookmark and Share


MS Cupcake Club: Zucchini-Spice

September 15, 2009

I recently joined the Martha Stewart Cupcake Club – a group of bloggers who together make a recipe from Martha Stewart’s Cupcake Book each month and post on the 15th. What fun to be joining this group. This is my first post for the club. This month’s pick was Zucchini-Spice Cupcakes. Timely indeed, considering I have some zucchini lying about and I’ve run out of ideas for them. I recently made Martha’s Lemon-Zucchini Cornmeal Cookies (Sept Everyday Living) and was happy to have another Martha zucchini baked item to make with zucchini.

The batter

The batter

These were easy to whip up.  The recipe uses vegetable oil and brown sugar, and includes cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg as spices.  Other key ingredients are walnuts (I used pecans instead) and some lemon zest which is an interesting touch. As always, I cheated and did my wet ingredients and then dumped in my dry ingredients without sifting. I know Martha would be appalled.

I grated the zucchini in the Cuisinart (which is on its last legs I think, since it is now over 20 years old – a wedding gift). I think that if you wanted to be

Out of the oven

Out of the oven

sneaky, you could peel the zucchini so there wouldn’t be any telltale green in these cupcakes to give you away to your kids. I was tempted to do that, but ultimately I was too lazy to peel.

I filled 24 cupcake holders and put it in the oven to bake…..and bake…. and bake. I always have this problem with Martha’s recipes. It took an extra 10 minutes for these to finally be done.  When they came out they looked and smelled great.

The book says to use the cream cheese frosting recipe from the back of the book, so I did, but I used light cream cheese and organic cultured butter. Cream cheese frosting is just evil. It tastes so darn good on anything. You can fool

Frosted

Frosted

yourself that zucchini cupcakes are healthy until you slather on a mound of cream cheese frosting. This frosting recipe made far too much in my opinion, even after I mounded it on the cupcakes.

Results? Excuse me while I wipe the cream cheese from my upper lip. They were good. Really good. They were like a light spice cake. The nuts are a nice addition. They were so good that I had to get them out of the house (this is part of my Martha philosophy – Martha Stewart makes desserts, but she has one serving and then shares the rest and gives it away). Bye-bye cupcakes! I know you will be enjoyed by people at Mr. MarthaAndMe’s office!

First bite

First bite

Bookmark and Share


Read Me on Open Salon

September 14, 2009

I put a piece up on Salon.com’s Open Salon about my Martha experience. I would love some traffic, comments, Stumbles, etc there.

http://open.salon.com/blog/brettesember/2009/09/14/martha_and_me_living_the_martha_life


%d bloggers like this: