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.
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.
January 19, 2010
The pick for Martha Mondays for 1/25 as chosen by Maryann at Stirrin’ It Up is Maple Granola (page 24 of Feb Martha Stewart Living – let me know if you need the recipe). This should be a fun one to try.
January 18, 2010
This week’s Martha Mondays was chosen by me. I’ve never made a dessert souffle before. I do have a recipe for a broccoli cheese souffle I make occasionally.
Martha has a recipe for lemon souffle on the back page of January Living. The recipe says it feeds six. I cut it in half and it was plenty for 4 people.
I started by mixing 1 tbsp lemon zest with 1 tbsp flour, 4 yolks and 1 tbsp sugar. I boiled 1/2 cup milk then whisked it in to the yolk mixture. Next I cooked it until it thickened, then I strained it and added 1 tbsp butter and 1/8 cup plus 1 tbsp lemon juice. The next step was to beat 5 egg whites until foamy and add 1/4 cup and 1 tbsp sugar. I worked at those until I had stiff peaks, then I folded it with the yolk mix. Martha says to butter and dust your ramekins with powdered sugar. I used 4 pyrex custard cups which were the perfect size. I baked at 375 for 16 minutes as directed, but they weren’t quite done, so I gave them about another 3 minutes. When they came out, I dusted the tops with more powdered sugar.
This was easier to make than I expected. My broccoli souffle recipe requires a water bath, but none was needed for this. You always hear about souffles falling and how delicate they are, but this seemed pretty sturdy to me.
Everyone enjoyed this. Dude Martha said he wants me to make it for his birthday. I thought it was a little eggy tasting – too much like scrambled eggs. I also thought it needed more lemon flavor, so I would use more zest and juice next time. So, with some tweaking, I would make this again. And I’m no longer afraid of dessert souffles.
If you made this, post and let me know how it went!
January 16, 2010
Thanks to all of you who expressed concern (and sent good wishes!) about ongoing family medical issues. For the second time in two months, we had a false positive radiology reading. First it happened to me in December – the ER outsourced the reading of a CT scan at night overseas and they sent me home telling me I had a mass that was likely cancerous. The CT was reread in the morning by a hospital radiologist who determined it was simply a burst ovarian cyst. This week another family member was told there was a pancreatic cyst on an ultrasound with all sorts of horrible possibilities. A CT then showed everything was completely normal. Whew. We’re all relieved and completely exhausted. On the one hand, of course I want radiologists to identify possible problems, but gosh, I am so sick of being alarmed and panicked over what turns out to be absolutely nothing. I wish there was a way these folks could be a little more careful.
So, I’m scraping myself off the floor, taking a deep breath, and moving forward. In other good news, this has helped me to identify a toxic person in my life – a friend who was intent on seeing only the negatives in every situation. This opened my eyes to that and I feel like a weight has been lifted. I have a whole new positive outlook on life. It has also made me realize I need to widen my circle of friends.
I just got the February Martha Stewart Living in the mail and I am so excited by it! There are lots of recipes I want to try as well as some crafts (and it is rare for me to get excited about crafts!). I think the next couple of weeks are going to be fun as I try some things in the magazine and share it with all of you. Thanks again to everyone who supported me throughout all of this. Onward and upward!
January 15, 2010
Can I be honest here? I am not a fan of coconut. But I knew my son would enjoy this, as would Mr. MarthaandMe’s office, so I made Martha’s Coconut Cupcakes, from her cupcake book, as part of the MS Cupcake Club. The cupcake part wasn’t a problem (once I threw myself on the mercy of the grocery store customer service desk to please locate the unsweetened coconut milk – it ended up being in the Thai section but they didn’t have unsweetened so I bought “lite”), but the frosting just about killed me. How hard can frosting be? Apparently quite challenging. First of all, let me explain I was not completely together as I made this. I had just read an ultrasound report regarding an immediate family member and was waiting (and waiting, and waiting) for a call from a Dr. I thought baking would distract me. Clearly, I was not together enough to do this.
I’ve made Martha’s 7 minute frosting before without a problem, but this time I just couldn’t do it. First of all, I thought I would experiment and see if I could use white Egg Beaters (not the yellow kind that are supposed to substitute for eggs) instead of egg whites. That was a failure, so I got out the eggs. Somehow I got yolk mixed in with the whites and had to throw it all out. So for the third batch, I had the whites in the bowl and was mixing them. The sugar was boiling and was almost to the temp I needed. Then the phone rang. I was waiting for the Dr so I turned it off and answered it. Not the Dr. I tried again, heating it up and beating the eggs and just when I reached the right temp, you guessed it, the phone rang AGAIN. And again, not the Dr. So I heated it up a third time and this time successfully got it mixed into the egg whites. No surprise, of course, that this was just a bowl of liquid glop. It never set up as frosting. I finally gave up (really, I wanted to hurl it across the kitchen but I restrained myself). I dipped the tops of the cupcakes in the frosting liquid and then pressed the tops into the coconut. I got enough frosting to at least get the coconut to stick.
They actually look pretty good I think. I did choke a bite down just to sample this. It didn’t taste much like coconut (once I scraped the flaked coconut off the top). So that is my tale of the coconut cupcakes!