Quinoa for Breakfast?

January 29, 2010

Martha wrote her personal column in Feb Living about her favorite breakfast dishes. One that caught my eye was breakfast quinoa. Quinoa is a grain that is similar to barley or Israeli couscous.  I’ve experimented with it a few times as a side dish, but never would have considered it for breakfast. So, one morning, I decided to try it. The recipe has you cook the quinoa in milk and it says it should take 23 minutes total. You add brown sugar and cinnamon for flavor.

I cooked mine for 30 minutes and it was as hard as pebbles. I had to abort since I had to get going, so I just covered it and turned the stove off. When I got back home an hour or so later, I added more milk and turned it on again for about 15 minutes. Still too hard. I put it in the fridge and got it out the next morning. This time I added a lot more milk  – all in all I would say I at least had to double the amount of milk this called for – and cooked it for another half hour. Finally, finally, it was soft enough to eat.

It tasted a lot like steel cut oatmeal, especially with the cinnamon and sugar, which is how I make oatmeal. It was something different, but I would probably rather have oatmeal.

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Lemon Icebox Cookies

January 28, 2010

Looking for a yummy lemon cookie? This is a good one. Lemon Icebox Cookies from Jan/Feb Everyday Food were a winner here. I made half a batch of this since it said it made 60 cookies. You make the entire thing in the Cuisinart which is a nice quick solution that I loved! You do have to chill the dough after you make it, which adds some time to this. Once the log of dough is chilled, Martha says to roll it in sugar, then slice it. I think if I made this again, I might do something to the cookies after slicing – they looked pretty plain with just a little sugar on the sides.

They were wonderful though. They taste like a lemon shortbread, but just a bit lighter. They would be wonderful with tea or to serve to people after a nice lunch.  I enjoyed them a lot and everyone in the house gives them a thumbs up!

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Raspberry Cupcakes

January 27, 2010

When I was ready to pop with baby #2, my Dr took me off work and put me on disability because I had contractions every time I stood up. This meant I had several weeks at home with nothing to do. At an earlier point in my pregnancy I made a raspberry cake mix upon my daughter’s request. She was 5 and everything had to be pink or purple. For some strange reason, at that late date in my pregnancy I desperately craved that raspberry cake mix. I think I made it several times. Christmas  hit and I wanted to send something in to the people I worked with at the courthouse. I made raspberry cake mix in the shape of stars (I guess I had little star shaped pans I used)  and wrapped them in colored cellophane (no frosting) and Mr. MarthaAndMe delivered them. Looking back now I’m pretty appalled that a) I thought store bought raspberry cake mix was good, b) I thought it was good all by itself with no frosting and c) I actually sent it in to people I worked with. I plead pregnancy insanity.

All of that came rushing back to me when I saw the raspberry cupcakes in February Living. These are REAL raspberry cupcakes though- made with real raspberries. Teen Martha is a raspberry fan, so I knew she would enjoy these. I am not such a big raspberry fan. I find the berries too tart and can’t stand all the little seeds, but I do like raspberry flavor.

To make these cupcakes, you puree one carton of raspberries and coarsely chop another. The recipe does call for red food coloring. I debated about this. I really hate food dyes since I don’t want those chemicals going into my body.  However, since I planned to give most of these away, I did go ahead and add a little of it.

Martha said these cupcakes would make 2 dozen. I had tons of batter left over. I ended up using some of it in a mini loaf pan and the rest I just dumped. I think you could get almost 3 dozen from this.

The cupcakes did turn out sort of pink. The batter tasted fantastic, but as with many of Martha’s cupcakes, I found the baked cupcake didn’t taste as amazing, although it was still very good. And definitely much better than raspberry cake mix!

Then there was the frosting. I am just about ready to skip all of Martha’s frostings from now on. I don’t know if I just am incapable of making them or what. If you read my recent debacle with the coconut cupcakes, you know I’m already at the breaking point. This one just about put me over the top. The recipe is for a pink buttercream frosting. First you cook egg whites and sugar and salt in a double boiler. You’re supposed to get it to 160 degrees. Mine got to 158 degrees and then immediately fell to 150. I had the heat on high, the water was boiling and I was whisking, but I could not get that temp back up no matter what I did. I gave up on that and went to the mixer stage. You’re supposed to beat this for about 11 minutes to get stiff peaks. I cut this recipe in half and so had a hard time with the mixer since all the egg white stuff just flew to the sides of the bowl and I had to constantly scrape. I let this go for about 14 minutes and then I threw in the towel. No stiff peaks to be seen. I added the butter and some food coloring and it turned out ok.

I frosted the cupcakes and sprinkled with pink sugar. I think they looked pretty. They were pretty good, but I’m not wild with love for them.  This is definitely a cute thing to make for Valentine’s Day, so I recommend it for that. And you can feel somewhat righteous since there is actual fruit in the cupcakes!

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Shepherd’s Pie

January 26, 2010

I usually prefer pot pie to shepherd’s pie, but I decided to try out Martha’s Shepherd’s Pie from Feb Living.

This is made with ground turkey and lots of veggies. I had to doctor this one a bit. You cook the turkey and veggies (celery, onion, carrots and peas – I also added green beans)  and add some water and cornstarch to make the gravy, but there wasn’t nearly enough of it and it wasn’t thick enough for my taste. So I added chicken broth and flour to thicken and increase volume. The top of the pie is potatoes mashed with parsnips and yogurt. I was surprised that I really liked the mash. The yogurt really worked for a creamy texture and the parsnips gave it some added flavor. This was a fun dish to make and it came together very quickly.

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Martha Mondays: 2/1

January 25, 2010

Sarah at Mum in Bloom has chosen Personalized Postcards for next week’s project. Should be a fun project!

Martha Mondays: Maple Granola

January 25, 2010

Maple granola. Yum. You can thank MaryAnn at Stirrin It Up for this week’s recipe, which is on page 24 of Feb Living.

I like granola a lot, but have not been eating much of it lately since I can’t eat a lot of nuts. This only elevated my craving for this recipe. I have to admit, I was a little leery of it since it has coconut (the recipe says to use coconut chips – no idea what that is, so I just used regular coconut flakes) and raisins in it, neither of which I am a fan of. This granola has lots of yummy stuff in it – rolled oats, pecans, maple syrup, olive oil, sesame seeds, nutmeg, and brown sugar. It takes about 50 minutes to bake this slowly in the oven, but it is really worth it.  I loved it. It is delicious and amazing (once I picked the raisins out).  Everyone in the house gave this a thumbs up. Mr. MarthaAndMe groused a little, saying he expected bigger pieces of granola, but he got over it once he tasted it. I would definitely make this again.

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Lamb Chops Supreme

January 22, 2010

The other night I made the best lamb chops EVER and I thought I would share it with you. It’s easy and incredibly flavorful (ok the picture looks weird – I attempted to cut a chop open and pour sauce over it but somehow it came out looking like a train wreck).

I rub my chops with rosemary and salt and pepper and grill them (I have a Jenn-Air, but you could use a grill pan or just roast them in the oven). While that was cooking, I got out a large saute pan and melted 1 tbsp of butter and added 1 chopped clove of garlic and 1 tsp of dried rosemary (use fresh if you have it – I didn’t).  Once the garlic begins to soften, pour in one 16 oz bottle of Pom pomegranate juice.  Reduce the sauce until it is thick and syrupy (about 10 min). Don’t worry if you walk away and it reduces too much – just add a little chicken broth to bring it to the consistency you want. I like mine very thick.

That’s it. Serve your chops with the sauce. It is amazing. Sweet, slightly tart, fresh, and rich. I even ended up putting some on the mashed potatoes and parsnips we had with it. Mr. MarthaAndMe was practically licking the plate to get all of the sauce. Even Dude Martha enjoyed it.

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Donn’s Waffles

January 21, 2010

Sunday mornings are the “big breakfast” day of the week here. We usually make pancakes, waffles, omelets or sometimes we splurge and get donuts. We used to be awakened by the kids, but nowadays, we’re up first and have breakfast made before they open their eyes.

Buckwheat pancakes are hands down my favorite big breakfast item, but the kids don’t like them.  I think one of my grandmothers used to make these when I was little and I had them again for the first time as an adult at a little restaurant on Chautauqua Lake. My  in-laws rent a cottage there for a week every summer and we sometimes go down for the night. There’s a little breakfast place we like to walk to and one day when I was pregnant with Dude Martha I ordered buckwheat pancakes. It was right at the end of my first trimester and I had just gotten my appetite back. Oh, that was possibly the best big breakfast I’ve ever had! On Sundays at home, I often make plain pancakes and put blueberries (and cinnamon) in the adults’ pancakes. Waffles do make it into the mix sometimes, but mostly they annoy me because it takes so long to make them each individually (why don’t they invent a Belgian waffle maker that has several layers of griddles so you could make 4 at a time?).

I like to make organic uncured bacon (nitrate-free) and organic apple maple chicken breakfast sausages with our big breakfasts. And of course we have real (no Aunt Jemima fake stuff!) New York state maple syrup. We once went to see maple sugar being tapped and made and it was fascinating.

Martha is excited about breakfast in the February issue of Martha Stewart Living. Her own personal column is all about different breakfast recipes (I don’t think I’ll try the salmon and avocado any time soon!). And she didn’t even mention that hideous green juice she insists on drinking every morning. I decided to try Donn’s Waffles out and see if they are better than my recipe.

The recipe says to use milk and vinegar – I had buttermilk so I used that instead. Sour cream is used which is interesting and there is also a small amount of cornmeal to add some crunch. The recipe contained no sugar, so I added a tbsp.

The waffles were pretty easy to mix up and they cooked nicely. However, when they came out of the waffle iron, they were not crisp. They were pretty mushy, despite being nicely browned. They tasted fine, if a bit soft for my tastes. The cornmeal did add some crunch, but overall they were softer than we are used to.

I prefer my recipe:

1  1/2 cups flour

1 tbsp sugar

3 tsp baking powder

1/2 tsp salt

3 eggs, separated

1 cup milk

4 tbsp melted butter

Mix the dry ingredients. Add yolks and milk and mix well. Add the butter.  Beat the whites until stiff, then fold into batter. Cook on a Belgian waffle maker. Makes about 8 waffles.

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Crafty for Valentine’s Day!

January 20, 2010

Spray on glue

Woot-woot! I did a Martha craft and it went really well!! Ok, here’s the scoop. In March Living, Martha suggests embellishing roses with glitter. She shows two methods. In method one, you mix 3 oz of water with 4-5 squirts of craft glue. Mix it up and spray it on a rose from 8 inches away. Sprinkle glitter over the rose and shake it off. This went well for me. The only tip I would offer is to use roses are not tightly closed. It’s hard to get glitter down in it if it is.

Method number two involves using glue that has an applicator tip. You’re supposed to trace glue around the edges of the petals. Well, I didn’t have an

Directly applied glue

applicator tip. My glue had a brush in it (just like the rubber cement we used to in art class – that took me back!) so I brushed it on gently and then sprinkled the glitter.

It really worked! I was tickled pink (get it?). Now, the question is would I really ever do this? Um, no, probably not. I think roses are beautiful by themselves and adding glitter is sort of tacky. I did say to Mr. MarthaAndMe that this might be something sort of fun to do for a centerpiece for a party if you wanted something a little glitzy and exciting, so I can see doing it in that setting. Maybe white roses with silver glitter for New Year’s Eve.

You can see I used pink roses. That’s a rule in our house. I don’t do red. Period. So Mr. MarthaAndMe has been trained to only bring home pink roses for Valentine’s Day.

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Chicken Parmigiana

January 19, 2010

I’m loving the February issue of Living. There is a terrific section about healthy comfort foods. I dog eared every single page of that section! My first test drive was with chicken parm. This isn’t something I make often, but I do like it.

The first thing I like about the recipe is Martha says to use chicken breast halves. I’ve decided I am going halve my chicken breasts (length-wise, so you cut the thickness in half) all the time from now on. A whole breast is too much for one person, plus they take forever to cook because they are so thick. So, thanks Martha, for making me realize this.

The breading for the chicken is made from Triscuits, which struck me as very non-Martha! I dutifully went out and bought a box though, which made Mr. MarthaAndMe extremely  happy. One of his most favorite snacks in the whole world is Triscuits with American cheese and pepperoni, heated in the toaster oven. This always strikes me as such a 70s suburbia snack! Maybe I should have bought him some Tang to go with it.

You pulverize the crackers in the Cuisinart with parsley, oregano and salt and pepper. Dredge the chicken in egg white, then in the cracker mix. Martha says this recipe makes 6 chicken breast halves. My cracker mix was barely enough to coat 4 halves. Fortunately, I was only feeding 4 people, so I poached the rest of my chicken and saved it for lunchtime salads later in the week.

Martha has you make your own tomato sauce for this – canned diced tomatoes, onion, garlic and salt whizzed in the Cuisinart. Brown the chicken in the oven for 10 min at 425 then pour the sauce over it and sprinkle mozzarella cheese and bake for 20 min. The recipe worked perfectly (other than the glitch with the crackers). The chicken was perfectly cooked. The sauce tasted ok. I served whole wheat spaghetti with this and fortunately I had the foresight to open and heat a can of jarred spaghetti sauce because there wasn’t enough for the pasta. I prefer the jarred sauce. I do like to make my own spaghetti sauce in the summer when my dad brings me a bushel of his tomatoes. It’s a lot of work and you end up with such a small amount, but it tastes wonderful. Martha’s sauce didn’t compare to that summertime sauce or to the jarred kind. That being said, this is a nice, pretty quick, healthy recipe for chicken parm, but I would probably just use jarred sauce next time.

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