Have You Tried….Korean Butter Pears?

March 30, 2012

I recently brought home some Korean Butter Pears from the grocery store to try. In the past, I’ve had something that looked similar, but wasn’t quite as big as this and was not called a butter pear. We sampled them one night for dessert. The skin has the texture of a pear, kind of thick and not smooth when you chew it. The flesh of the fruit tastes a lot like melon to me. It has that watery crunch to it that melons do, but it is also very pear-like. I didn’t think it tasted anything like apples (though it is supposed to be a combo of apples and pears). My son liked it a lot, so I will be buying more of these when I shop next. Have you tried this variety? Do you have any suggestions for things I should be trying?

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GIVEAWAY!

March 28, 2012

I’m celebrating the publication of my new book, The Muffin Tin Cookbook, which has 200 recipes for all types of dishes made in muffin tins: appetizers, entrees, sides, breakfast, desserts, mini-pies, breads, and much more, as well some muffin and cupcake recipes. Muffin tin cooking is great for portion control: one “muffin” cup is one portion, so there’s no fooling yourself into having just a little bit more.

This kind of cooking is also guaranteed to get your kids interested in new foods. Kids have been conditioned to believe that anything cooked in a muffin/cupcake tin is fun and delicious, so they are excited to try the recipes.

This makes a great Mother’s Day gift, and it’s also a great shower gift.

If you would like to enter to win, follow this link and read the table of contents (click on “search inside this book” underneath the book cover) and come back, leave a comment, and tell me which recipe you would like to try. You’ll be entered to win a copy.

You must enter by midnight ET on Sunday April 15. I’ll randomly and blindly select the winner by random number drawing (numbers assigned in order of comments here). Sorry, offer limited to U.S. addresses only and entrants age 18 and up only. One entry per person. You will not be entered to win unless you enter the name of a recipe from the book in your entry. Winners notified by email given when entering, not responsible for email transmission problems. You are responsible for notifying me of your correct mailing address if you are selected as a winner. Contest closes at midnight Eastern time on 4/15/12. Prize is nontransferable and may not be redeemed for cash. MarthaAndMe reserves the right to announce the name of the winner on the blog.


Almond-Crusted Asparagus

March 28, 2012

I buy asparagus just about every week. It’s one of my main go-to vegetables, so I’m always trying to come up with new ideas for it. This week I decided to whiz up some sliced almonds for a crunchy coating and it came out very nicely!

Almond-Crusted Asparagus

1 bunch asparagus, trimmed

1 cup sliced almonds

1/8 teaspoon ground dry mustard

1/8 cup panko

salt and pepper to taste

1 eggs

1/8 cup skim milk

Lemon wedges (optional)

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking sheet with cooking spray. Place the almonds, dry mustard, panko, salt and pepper in the food process and process until very fine. Transfer it to a plate. Mix the egg and milk in a bowl long enough to fit the asparagus stalks. Dip the asparagus into the egg mixture, then into the almond mixture and place on the baking sheet. Spray the asparagus with cooking spray. Bake for 15 minutes, or until the asparagus is as tender as you like it and the coating is browning.  If you like, serve with lemon wedges to squeeze over the asparagus.

It was easy and very tasty. I really liked the taste of the almonds with the asparagus.


Martha Mondays: 4/2

March 27, 2012

Pru has chosen Hot Crossed Buns with Dried Cherries  for next week. Should be fun to try!


Martha Mondays: Leek, Bacon and Pea Risotto

March 26, 2012

Today’s project was leek, bacon and pea risotto, chosen by Sassy Suppers.  I liked this a lot, even though I usually don’t care for leeks.  It had just the right balance of flavors. Adding that spurt of lemon juice at the end is genius I think. It was creamy and flavorful and just hit the spot. Two thumbs up on this one, even if I find all the stirring a bit tedious! I’ll be interested to hear if everyone else enjoyed it as well.


Spring Flowers

March 22, 2012

We’ve had almost a week of unseasonably warm temps here (in the 80s), so all of the bulbs we planted in the fall are growing by leaps and bounds and I’ve got some gorgeous flowers out. It’s so early in the season, but I’m so glad to see them! Has spring come early for you?


Aruba

March 20, 2012

We just returned from a trip to Aruba. It was shorter than we planned because Continental/United completely screwed up. Forgive me for venting before I share the fun stuff. First our flight from Buffalo was delayed because the flight crew got in late. Then there was a problem they were fixing. We finally got on the plane 2 hours or so late. It took off, flew for 15 minutes and turned around and came back to Buffalo with another mechanical problem. They could not get us to Newark in time for our connection. So they flew us there later in the day and stuck us in a hotel overnight and we were to fly out the next morning (to console ourselves, we took the train into NYC and ate at Basta Pasta, where they make a pasta dish that they mix up inside a wheel of Parmesan cheese). Late at night, the toilet in our room broke and we had to change rooms. The next morning we went to the airport and somehow they had canceled our tickets! They were able to get us on the flight, but not sitting together. We finally arrived in Aruba about 26 hours later than planned, losing an entire day.

My vent is over. Aruba is beautiful. It’s a desert island with palm trees, cacti and the famous divi divi tree (which always bends west due to the wind). It’s windy there but the wind felt good in the heat and kept the bugs away. The island is very Americanized, disappointingly so we thought. There are American chain restaurants everywhere. All the signs are in English. You can pay in American dollars everywhere. The high rise hotel area was tacky and crowded (fortunately our hotel was just past this nonsense).

Divi divi tree

We stayed at the Marriott Stellaris in a gorgeous oceanfront room. It was huge with a huge bathroom. One of the most comfortable rooms we’ve ever been in. The resort was beautiful with a huge pool and wonderful beach. The sand is soft, there are no shells and only a few pieces of coral. The water is an amazing turquoise and was saltier than any ocean water I’d been in before. It was about 87 during the day and 77 at night.

Natural bridge

We visited the donkey sanctuary, saw the natural bridge, and drove north to the lighthouse. We walked the beach, swam, slept on the beach, and had a good time. The shopping was horrendous. There are lots of cruises so there are lots of designer stores and jewelry stores. There were NO artisan shops or galleries. The only nice shop was the mopa mopa store. Mopa mopa is a special technique. Boxes or figures are carved out of wood. Resin from the mopa mopa tree is boiled and stretched by hand and then hand applied to the boxes. It is colorful and amazing. We did track down one art exhibit at an art school where nothing was for sale other than little painted plates, so I bought one of those. I also bought soap at the donkey santuary (made from donkey milk) and a nice

Mopa mopa box, donkey soap, magnet and a handpainted plate

magnet.

The streets have no signs. NONE. There are no street numbers. And GPS is unreliable, going in and out all the time. Even though the island is only 20 miles long, we got lost several times. It was very frustrating. Even the concierge desk gave bad directions.

Flying Fishbone

The people were friendly and the food was quite good. We enjoyed two dinnersat restaurants that have their tables right in the sand at the water’s edge. You kick off your shoes and eat with your toes in the sand. One illuminated the water (Flying Fishbone) which was pretty and the other(Passions) had tiki torches. We had lots of fish–Caribbean lobster, wahoo, grouper, shrimp, and crab. We also went to the The Old Cunucu Housefor lunch. A cunucu is a country house made of thick adobe type walls. This one was 150 years old. This restaurant serves tradtional Aruban food and we were anxious to try it. Bitterballen were deep fried meatballs. Pastechi were like empanadas filled with cheese. We also sampled deep fried chicken leg and the national dish keeshi yeni, described as stuffed cheese. It wasn’t really though – just shredded chicken in a sauce covered with cheese.  There are lots of types of cornmeal sides – deep fried, pan fried, etc. We enjoyed this

Fried chicken leg pieces

taste of real Aruba, except we think my son had some bad shrimp (he had a shrimp cocktail) which meant we weren’t able to go out to

Keeshi yeni

dinner our last night because he was ill.

The last day we were there was Aruba’s national flag and anthem day (think 4th of July). To celebrate, the hotel had a special brunch with native dishes, so we went to that. They had a deep fried cornmeal and cheese side called funchi that was fantastic. They also served oxtail stew (Mr. MarthaAndMe grew up on oxtail soup) and several other traditional dishes. It was fun, but a bit heavy for 8 in the morning, we thought!

Pastechi

When we travel to other countries, we always go to a grocery store and this one was very interesting. There are different types of grocery stores – many with Asian names and others that have English names. We went to one called Super Food. It was filled with Dutch people (Aruba is part of the Dutch Commonwealth, although it is now an independent country – similar to the relationship between Canada and the UK). People were speaking Dutch and many, many food items had Dutch packaging. Gouda is practically the national

Funchi (left)

cheese of Aruba (any dish you order with cheese has Gouda in it) and I was surprised to see they sell it sliced and packaged like we sell American cheese. We bought some Dutch cookies and chocolates. My son was excited by the potato chip flavors – it was Lay’s but they had Cheese and Onion, Paprika, Ham and Cheese and others we have never seen.

Overall, we had a nice time, but it was too short due to the airline screw up. I

Pastchi, bitterballen and some kind of cheese and veg fried item

wish we had had more time to explore or get out on the water.


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