Herbed Orzo

December 30, 2009

I’m loving the Jan/Feb Everyday Food issue with lots of light dinner ideas. I tried the Herbed Orzo. This is possibly the simplest recipe in the world. Boil a cup of orzo. Add 3 tbsp chopped herbs (any kind) and 2 tsp lemon juice and salt and pepper. That’s it. I did add some olive oil to the cooking water which keeps the orzo from sticking together and gave it a little flavor. We grated a tiny bit of Parmesan cheese on top when we ate it. This was nice and light and fresh and was pasta without being a heavy pasta dish. Orzo cooks so quickly since it’s small that this is perfect for a last minute thrown together dinner. You could dress it up with some sauteed spinach or cherry tomatoes if you wanted some more veggies.

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Back on Track: Parchment Paper Salmon

December 29, 2009

Hello everyone. I’m back. Or mostly back. I was really thrown for a loop when I pulled all of my stomach muscles on the right side lifting a laundry basket. It was so ridiculous. I couldn’t believe how badly hurt I really was. Almost two weeks later, I am back to normal activities for the most part.

For my first real foray into the kitchen since the injury (Mr. MarthaAndMe did all the Christmas cooking as I sat on a stool and offered instruction), I made a recipe from the Jan/Feb issue of Everyday Food. I am a subscriber, but this issue came to me early from MSLO. There’s an interesting section on parchment paper cooking I wanted to try out. I made Salmon with Green Beans and Lemon Zest. I remember trying parchment paper cooking once when we were first married and it got a little scorched!

This dish was easy to put together – put your salmon fillets on the paper, add green beans, lemon zest, some capers, salt and pepper and  a little olive oil. Fold the paper over and twist the ends. Bake at 400 for about 10-12 minutes. That’s it. I was actually pretty impressed with it. My salmon got a little overcooked (the problem with this is you can’t check it for doneness without ripping the paper), but other than I did enjoy it. We squeezed some lemon juice over it when we ate it since it needed more lemon flavor. I actually liked the capers and enjoyed the green beans with it. I like having most of dinner in a cute little package like this  – it’s very appealing somehow.

I want to try some of the other parchment paper recipes, so check back for those results in the coming days.

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A Short Break

December 26, 2009

Hi everyone. I’ve been busy with Christmas and a ridiculous abdominal muscle pull that has rendered me practically unable to function! I hope your holidays are enjoyable. I’ll be back with a new post very soon!

Heirloom Sugar Cookies

December 22, 2009

My grandmother made the world’s best sugar cookies. I’ve never tasted any like them, ever. Her cookies are soft, moist, and delicate. Because I grew up eating these, I have been spoiled and don’t care for the harder sugar cookies most people seem to make. The key ingredient is buttermilk, which makes for a soft dough, but is also responsible for the texture and flavor. Because of the soft texture, you need to make this dough, then freeze it completely before you attempt to roll it out and cut it out. There are many family stories about this. One year my aunt took the entire batch out to a table set up in the garage and rolled them out in the garage where the dough would stay cold. The first time I attempted it, I didn’t freeze it long enough and I ended up with a huge mess.  The other trick is picking the right cut out shapes. The dough spreads and softens as it cooks, so many shapes become unrecognizable. I’ve found that stars work quite well. Candy canes also work. Santas, snowmen and trees tend to just blur and become blobs. My grandmother often just made these as circles.

As my Christmas gift to you, dear readers, I’m going to share this special family recipe.

Gai’s Sugar Cookies

1 cup unsalted butter

2 cups sugar

2 eggs

2 cups buttermilk

4 cups flour

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp salt

2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar. Add egg and vanilla. Alternate adding dry ingredients with buttermilk. Freeze the dough for several hours. Roll the dough out using lots of flour on the counter and on the rolling pin because it will stick if you aren’t careful. Roll this out a bit thicker than you would with regular sugar cookies – you want it to be about a 1/2 inch thick. Flour the cookie cutters. Place on silpats in a oven preheated to 375 degrees. Bake for 10-12 minutes. You want to take them out when the bottoms are just beginning to brown.  Don’t let the top of the cookie get brown or it will be too hard. Let them rest on the baking sheets until cool and then remove them.

I usually make a simple frosting of butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and milk (which you can color with food coloring if you want different colors) and then we decorate them with colored sugar. As you can see in the photo, my kids really get into it!

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Martha Radio

December 22, 2009

If you heard me on Martha Stewart Radio, Morning Living Live this morning, will you drop them an email and let them know?  I believe the show is replayed over the weekend, so if you missed it, you can catch it then.

Martha Mondays Schedule

December 22, 2009

We’re going to hit the pause button on Martha Mondays until after the holidays. Some members have suggested it and I agree. So the next Martha Mondays will be Jan. 4. Pru Singer from My Life Pru Singer has made her pick for that already, so you can plan ahead – Silver Dollar Pear Pancakes. We’ll push everyone else’s assigned dates back a week from there on out.

I’ll still be posting through the holidays. For one thing I am determined to make a croque en bouche. Fingers crossed on that.

Martha Stewart Radio Tomorrow

December 21, 2009

I’ll be on Martha Stewart Living Radio Morning Living Live on Sirius tomorrow morning at 7 a.m., so please tune in if you can.

Martha Mondays: Vinegar Glossed Chicken

December 21, 2009

Martha MondaysHello and welcome to Martha Mondays this Christmas week. I hope all of you are ready, or almost ready for the big day and if you celebrate Hanukkah, I hope you had a nice holiday.

This week’s project, Vinegar Glossed Chicken,  was chosen by Sara at Sassy Suppers. I was excited to try this since it is a Lucinda recipe and I usually like her recipes a lot.

This recipe was pretty simple to put together. I used boneless chicken breasts instead of a whole chicken cut up since no one here likes dark meat. You start by browning your chicken in some oil. Once that’s done, add the chicken stock which you reduce by half. Next add in the vinegar which has been mixed with garlic and rosemary. The recipe says to swirl the pan and cook it down till it forms a glaze.

This did not work out very well for me at all. I followed the amounts exactly and ended up with a pan of very sour vinegar – cooking it down make it thicker, but did not change the flavor. There was no way I could feed that to my family so I set about doctoring it up. I added about a cup of more chicken stock and then added Wondra to thicken it. I added sugar to cut the taste of the vinegar – several teaspoons. I also added some water at the end and more Wondra to try to thin out the taste of the vinegar. No one really cared for this. I served the sauce/gravy separately so people could control how much they got. The chicken did turn a pretty color. I wouldn’t try this one again. I guess maybe if you love the taste of vinegar this would appeal to you, but it just tasted horribly sour to me. The kids complained about how it made the house smell. It was just overwhelming. Lucinda, you’ve failed me!

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My Martha Mantel

December 19, 2009

Martha has definitely inspired me to take decorating more seriously. For years, I’ve been moaning about how I don’t like some of my Christmas decorations. I’ve finally started to get rid of the ones I don’t like and focus on collecting things I do like.

Last year when I was shopping the after Christmas sales, I picked up three glass tree toppers are bargain basement prices. this year, I added a mercury glass tree topper I found at Target and a smaller pink vintage German topper I bought on eBay. I’ve got them displayed on my mantel in front of the mirror and I’m thrilled with them. I hope to keep adding to this collection.

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Definitely Not Martha

December 18, 2009

I just had to share with you these cookies, made by Teen Martha. Shhh, don’t tell Martha. Teen Martha had these at school and was craving them. They’re called Funfetti Cookies. You buy a box of Funfetti Cake Mix and there’s a recipe on the side of it to make cookies with it. For those of you who are unfamiliar, Funfetti is a white cake mix with multi-colored pieces in it – almost like jimmies. I don’t buy cake mixes, ever, so I was pretty unfamiliar with this myself. Teen Martha insisted it was good though. She whipped them up and and ta-dah – Funfetti cookies. I have to admit they were kind of good, in a this can’t be good for me, it’s so filled with chemicals kind of way! They are a crunchy sugar cookie and the colored pieces are kind of pretty.

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