Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Bozo Pic of the Week...

It's been so long since I've posted a Bozo Pic, I thought it was about time. I've been taking plenty of photos, but just haven't been taking the time to compose something with them. But this week I wanted to share some shots from my older son's 10th birthday party. His actual birthday was over a month ago - but we held off throwing a party until after hockey season had ended. He really wanted a skating party and waiting until post-season, when the rink rates drop, made it possible to get the whole rink and invite as many guests as he wanted...all for a very reasonable price. Yay! After all, turning double digits is a big deal, right?
Because we had the whole rink I decided to open the invitation up to the siblings of anyone invited - I figured the more kids skating and having fun the better. Mixing all those ages and skating skill levels did get quite chaotic at moments, and there were many times I counted my blessings that no one was injured {seriously injured, anyway} - but in the end it was a super fun birthday celebration!

Friday, March 23, 2012

Savory & Sweet Waffles

When I saw this recipe in the most recent issue of Bon Appetit I was literally transfixed with the idea of making a batch. What had me so drawn to it, other than the fact that it was a recipe for Waffles filled with salty goodness, was that I knew it would be a perfect 'Breakfast for Dinner' meal. Of course, when I started making a batch and realized just how rich, salty and butter-loaded they were, I decided they would make a great once-a-year 'Breakfast for Dinner' option.
We do have a family waffle batter recipe, although I'm not the one who usually uses it. In our house - waffles are my husband's domain. We have a very antique waffle iron, which I believe he found at his parents house and quite frankly, I'm usually intimidated by the idea of using it. Plus, we store it in a spot that's not at all easy to access and it requires too much clean up for me to ever bother with. So, I'm perfectly fine with the waffles being his thing.
However, this recipe motivated me to lug out the dinosaur iron and get to work making some savory {yet sweet} waffles. Our standard waffle recipe does contain about half the butter this recipe does - but I'm also fairly certain it makes about half as many waffles.
The thing is, there's a reason waffles use so much butter {or oil} - when compared to let's say, pancake batter. Aside from the fact that it makes them taste so mind-blowingly delicious, it also helps the waffles puff up light and airy inside and crispy on the outside.
Some changes I made to the original recipe, which I will share with you should you decide to do the same are...
I didn't have any buttermilk so I whipped up an at home substitution. If you ever find yourself in the same predicament, combine 1 tablespoon white vinegar {or lemon juice} with 1 cup of milk. Let the mixture sit for 5 minutes before using, then measure out the quantity you need for the recipe.
I also decided to omit the sugar from the original recipe...mostly because I wanted to see what 'savory' waffles would be like and I knew that serving these waffles with maple syrup would make them plenty sweet enough. In my opinion, they were perfect without it. 
One thing I love about adding the flavor additions in at the end {instead of adding them into the batter itself} is that I have control over what I add to each person's batch or whether I add anything at all. So, for folks who may have a picky eater at home, you can easily make a batch of plain waffles for them. I did this for one of my boys and they were perfectly sweet enough using just the maple syrup.
I also didn't bother with measuring the savory additions {in this case, I used sliced & diced 'black forest smoked' ham and shredded cheddar cheese}. I used yellow cheese because that's what I had on hand and honestly, there's not enough of a difference between the two to warrant a trip to the store.
I thought the smoked ham was perfection and the cheese adds a little touch of creamy saltiness. In fact, I would call these waffles insanely good and I hope you'll try a batch next time you want to show people just want an amazing cook you are! Enjoy!
Some other breakfast or 'Breakfast for Dinner' options you might like - Ricotta Pancakes | Ham & Asparagus Strata | Penne Frittata | Skillet Eggs & Potatoes

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Happy Weekend //

It's been a few weeks since I posted a Food Blog Love post. Things have been busy - but also...anyone who's been a regular reader will know that the term 'weekly' has a very loose interpretation around here. Instead of saying a post is part of a weekly series, I should call it an inspired series - because really, that's where it comes from.
Regardless of all that - I couldn't let St. Patrick's Day come and go without sharing some of my favorite recipes or posts from around the Web. So, here they are...
{1.} irish car bomb jell-o shots | baker's royale via endless simmer {2.} irish car bomb moon pies | eats well with others {3.} broccoli potato and bacon hash | steamy kitchen {4.} beef and guinness stew | food republic {5.} lamb shanks in irish stout | edible ireland {6.} irish coffee cupcakes | martha stewart {7.} black velvet baby cakes | sarah cook via good food {8.} irish soda bread | kitchen confidante {9.} irish cheddar and bacon soda bread | homesick texan {10.} chocolate guinness cake | healthy green kitchen {11.} avocado pie | how about orange {12.} mint chocolate chip ice cream terrine | baked bree

Friday, March 16, 2012


Last week I posted a round-up featuring the Irish recipes I've shared here over the years. While most of them have been my adaptations of the classics, versus passed down family recipes - many of them would have been welcome additions to our St. Patrick's Day dinners growing up. This recipe, however, would not have been received so gladly.
You see, I come from a family of mashed potato purists - and I can guarantee you that adding anything to plain ole' mashed potatoes, other than the basic additions {butter, milk and salt} - would not be welcomed {I think someone even tried that once and it didn't go over well}.
But now - I'm all grown up...I have a family of my own. And if I want to add greens to my mashed potatoes, I certainly can. In fact, the idea of making a batch of Colcannon has been speaking out to me for a long while. When I saw this version in a cookbook my father gave me, called The Country Cooking of Ireland, by Coleman Andrews, I knew I would try a batch this year.
I happen to love greens. Kale, chard, spinach, rapini, or collards...you name it, I like them all. So, this recipe is my kind of side dish. Yes, there's loads of butter in there. Yes, there's also whole milk and it's basically a 'carb-laden' mound of comfort in a bowl. But St. Patrick's Day comes but once a year - and yes, I do feel a bit better about it when the recipe involves a big pile of greens too.

Like any other traditional dish of Ireland, there are as many variations on this recipe as there are Irish Mamos. I've seen recipes that are little more than potatoes, milk, butter and kale. Some add in chopped cabbage, some add other greens - such as spinach or green herbs, like sorrel or parsley. However, my research has lead me to one conclusion - it's really just a way to use up whatever greens you happen to have on hand, or that happen to be in season. If cabbage is abundant, you would use that - same goes for kale, or any other green. Best of all, you can add in more than one type of leafy green - so it's a good way to use up the drips and drabs you might have leftover in the fridge.
I followed the recipe author's instructions for the most part. But I did decide to throw in some fresh parsley leaves...for obvious reasons. I also decided to use baby kale.
For those of you who have not tried baby kale yet - I really love it. Earthbound Farms sells containers of mixed baby kales in a clam shell container - just like their lettuce greens. So it's all washed and ready to use {super convenient}. The young leaves are very tender and much less bitter than mature kale. So it's a good option for those who may not be the biggest 'bitter greens' fan.
In this recipe, the russet potatoes are steamed with their skins on...which is a new technique for me. Usually, when I make mashed potatoes, I peel them ahead of time. Then, I chop the potatoes up into uniform sizes and boil them until tender. But by doing so, I'm boiling away and draining off all the potato flavor. This technique is a tad more involved than simply boiling potatoes, but I encourage you to try it. While potatoes are very bland in general, this technique will help extract as much flavor as possible from them.
Another great flavor maker in this recipe is scallions. The scallion greens are minced and steamed with milk and butter. This gives the milk a vichyssoise-like flavor...for those of you who have had vichyssoise {basically potato leek soup} you'll know what I'm talking about. It's seems scallions {or chives and leeks, for that matter} were destined to marry potatoes...because they're simply meant to be together.
You can read more about the traditional way to serve this dish in the recipe below - but I'll give you a hint: it has something to do with the pool of melted butter in the center.
I recommend serving Colcannon along side the other traditional Irish-American St. Patrick's Day staples of Corned Beef & Cabbage and Soda Bread. If you happen to have any leftovers, try making Colcannon Cakes - you can use this recipe for Boxty {Irish Potato Pancakes} and substitute the Colcannon for the plain mashed potatoes. If you're Irish, or if you just enjoy celebrating St. Patricks' Day and the food of Ireland, I highly recommend you purchase The Country Cooking of Ireland cookbook. It's as much an encyclopedia as it is a cookbook and it's so gorgeous, it will end up on your coffee table instead of a bookshelf. Enjoy!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Strawberry, Granola & Yogurt Parfaits

I've been wanting to post this delicious, healthy treat for a long time now. I actually almost didn't, because things like this don't really require a real recipe, right? They sort of don't. But even though it's not a technically challenging meal to make, hopefully this post will serve as the inspiration you need to go make one!
The inspiration I needed to finally get this post up here for you was my son's fourth grade class. This past week and a half the students at his school have been busy taking their Connecticut Mastery Tests and each year the parents are rounded up to volunteer their healthy snack making skills. It's hard to make sure each kid in the class has a balanced breakfast on test days, so having a Mom in charge each morning helps spread the good nutrition throughout. It's amazing how rough hours of testing can be on 10 year olds - or any aged person, for that matter. Having a healthy, preferably protein packed breakfast, or morning snack, before testing can make a big difference in how well their brains perform that day.
The first day of testing was my turn. Unfortunately, I completely forgot about it until the morning of! We'll blame it on mommy brain. I jumped in the car with the kids, scrambling for some ideas on what to bring...it had to be something I could buy from a store at that point.
The idea of bringing greek yogurt parfaits came to me - so we ran to grocery store and picked up some Greek yogurt, a fruit plate and some plain granola. I set up a little 'parfait' bar in the classroom and helped all the kids make one for themselves.
I was unsure of how they would like them, as I think many kids who are used to fruit flavored yogurt, which tends to be super high in sugar, don't necessarily transition well to plain yogurt. I brought some vanilla flavored too and maple syrup as sweetener, just in case - but I was amazed by how many of the kids liked the yogurt as is.
When I picked my son up from school that day he told me that everyone loved the snack and many were asking if there was more to be had. That same afternoon, my little guy wanted some for himself too - and it was that day when the 'yogurt, granola and fruit after school snack' phase began.
Since then, it's become a cataclysmic disaster when we run out of plain yogurt. I've been buying the big huge tubs of Fage 2% plain Greek yogurt - which is by far my favorite yogurt brand. Not only do I love the texture and taste, but I also love that it has 23 grams of protein per cup! However, you can use whatever brand, or type of yogurt you'd prefer...it doesn't need to be strained 'Greek' yogurt either.
This isn't the first phase of yogurt parfaits in our house either. The first time was after the Frigidaire event we went to last June. They served something very similar to this recipe, called Strawberries with Mint, Yogurt & Honey, at the event and my guys went bananas for them. The fad eventually wore off, only to be re-born again this Spring.
The version I made here is slightly different from the one's I make my kids because it has some slivered almonds added in {they both hate almonds}. For grown-ups out there, or adventurous kids, these are also great with some fresh mint added in too!
Try making these parfaits with homemade granola by using this Cherry, Pecan Granola recipe and substituting fresh cherries for the strawberries above. Here are some other Breakfast recipe you might enjoy too! - Banilla Smoothies | Breakfast Quinoa with Berries & Bananas | Mini Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins | Ricotta Pancakes | Strawberry Ricotta Muffins.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

St. Patrick's Day Recipes

Over the years I've accumulated quite a few St. Patrick's Day recipes here! With the Irish holiday right around the corner, it's time to break out the shamrocks, leprechauns and pots of gold...and to share some of my favorites with you. Scroll down to find links for them all!
{above: Cheddar & Guinness Dip}
{left: Guinness Beef Stew | right: Boxty}
{left: Irish Brown Bread | right: Brown Butter Soda Bread}
{left: Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner | right: Guinness Mustard & Horseradish Cream}
{left: Reuben Sandwiches | right: Homemade Russian Dressing | and for Dessert? not pictured: Guinness Gingerbread}

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Some Things I Just Love...

Things are finally beginning to settle down in our household. I'm anxious to get back in the kitchen - cooking up something delicious to share here. For the time being though, I wanted to share some recent products I'm lusting after. Ever since my little guy was old enough to speak, he's called anything gold - 'golden' [which I love!] I've been going through a gold phase lately...so here are some of my favorite golden goodies from around the web.
1. | horizontal arrow necklace 2. | glitter tote bag 3. | 2012 leather diary 4. | quincy coin purse {love this too!} 5. | flawed gold-plated bowls 6. | gold triangle drinking glasses 7. | diy party animal candle tutorial 8. | royal old-fashioned tumblers