Thursday, July 28, 2011

I'm kinda famous, or at least getting there...

So the Maryland Gazette did a story on me and my book.  I really appreciate that they thought the book news-worthy, and thanks to Kathy Shatt for making me sound good (I have to thank my photographers, husband Ken and friend Steve for actually making me look good).

The person I really need to thank, though, is Ann "Grannie Annie" Golueke.  I neglected to give her credit in the article for the strata recipe.  Ann and I often share recipes and ideas; building off each other to create our own thing.  Ann actually started the strata kick.  So Ann...I'm sorry and I thank you, and mostly Ken thanks you--he loves the strata!

A strata is basically a savory bread pudding, but sooo simple to make.  Ann has her favorite combinations of meats and veggies to put in, and even her favorite type of bread.  I've had her's yummy!  The one I like best of hers involves Italian bread, bacon, asparagus, onions and some southwest seasoned egg substitute.  For me, the strata has become a method for which we clean out the fridge the day before shopping day.

You have to start the night before as strata needs to sit in the fridge overnight.  You'll need some bread, milk, eggs and cheese.  Choose your casserole dish size according to how much of each ingredient you have.  A loaf of bread, a dozen eggs and a cup or two of milk makes a very hearty 9 x 13 pan full.  As for the other ingredients you put in, just use what makes you happy.  I'm using some nice round numbers in the recipe below to make an 8 x 8 pan (about 4 servings).  I never measure when I cook and this method is very forgiving if you have too much or too little of something.

1/2 loaf of bread of any type (or some garlic herb gotta try it!)
6 eggs
1 cup milk
salt, pepper, ground dry mustard, hot sauce or any other seasonings you like in eggs
1 cup cheese (your favorite)
1 cup chopped, cooked meat (any breakfast-ish meat will do)
1 cup chopped vegetables (fresh or thawed-frozen)

Spray pan with cooking spray.  Beat eggs, milk and seasonings to taste. Tear bread and place in pan. Layer cheese, meat and veggies on top and lightly toss with fingers.  Pour egg mixture on top, pressing down on bread so that it soaks up the eggs.  Cover and refrigerate overnight.  In the morning, let strata rest on counter while oven preheats to 350.  Bake covered 30 minutes.  Uncover and bake 15-25 minutes more until center is set and strata is golden brown.

The last strata I made had honey wheat bread, maple sausage, broccoli, mushrooms, onions, red pepper, cheddar cheese, pepper jack cheese and garden vegetable cream cheese.  Ken said to me "honey, this is the best one yet!"  The problem is, I'll never have those same ingredients in the fridge at the same time again!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter 2011

My 2-year-old daughter learned how to use a knife on Easter.  It started with Daddy really needing a nap...

The baby (8 months old) was up at 12:30am and my wonderful (occasional insomniac) husband got up with her and even though she want back to sleep immediately, he was up until 3:30.  So at 8:30 am, he really needed a nap!  We had finished the egg hunt and the "opening" of the Easter basket and the consumption of enough M & M's to not want to eat the scrambled eggs and ham Mommy had cooked for breakfast.  Daddy had fallen asleep on the couch, so Dani (the 2-year-old) needed something quiet to do as to not wake him up.  (And Mommy needed to start Easter dinner so that she could get a nap when Daddy did wake up.)

Let the Deviled Egg preparation commence!

First of all, my planning ahead paid off!  Hubby Ken could not figure out why I was buying 18 packs of eggs every time I went grocery shopping for the past month.  Here's why--in order to peel hard boiled eggs easily, you have to use old eggs.  Not stinky, green old, just old enough to be at or a few days past the "sell by" date.  So I had plenty of eggs to work with on Friday when I cooked them.  On Sunday morning, the peels slipped right off and we only "lost" one egg to a stubborn peel.  If you haven't perfected your own hard boiled egg cooking method yet, try mine:

  1. Use old eggs (see above).
  2. Start with a wide pot with a lid.
  3. Place eggs in a single layer in bottom of pot.
  4. Cover with cold water (if your eggs are cold).
  5. Place on stove, covered, and bring to a boil.
  6. As soon as the water boils, turn off the heat and set the timer for 15 minutes (my sister says 20 minutes).
  7. When the timer goes off, drain the eggs and put them in a bowl (or the sink) filled with water and ice.
  8. Leave until cool then refrigerate until ready to use.

Second of all, my casual attitude about food with Dani paid off, too!  I really wanted to get some protein in her after all that chocolate (well, it wasn't so much, but it was the first time we've ever eaten candy before breakfast!).  I had been suggesting to her all kinds of food all morning, in which she was not interested.  As soon as she peeled that first egg..."mommy, I eat it?  Put some sauce (she means salt) on it." and she gobbled up probably 1 1/2 eggs by the time we were done.

Dani's job was to help peel the eggs, then after I rinsed them, she was to dry them and hand them to me one-by-one for slicing and yolk ejecting.  I have no idea where this came from, but after the first couple of eggs it was "here mommy, here is your artichoke!" 

I don't follow a recipe or measure anything when I make deviled eggs, I just add how much and what I think will make it taste better.  So I again needed something for Dani to do while I worked my magic.  I thought about having her stir, but did I mention that we were in the dining room and oh, she's two?  That being said, some may question my idea to put a knife in her hand!  Don't worry, it was just a butter knife that came in her toddler silverware set.  We talked about knife safety (don't ever put it in your mouth and when you are not cutting, it stays on the cutting board) and how to hold it with the blade straight up and down.  And then she mutilated the pieces of white and yolk on her cutting board that she had previously been nibbling at.  She really amazes me every day! 

After I had the filling to my liking, she did get to stir and pull the trigger on my "decorating gun" to fill the whites.  And for the second year in a row, we did not make enough deviled eggs for Easter dinner.

So for our next trick...Creme Brule (just kidding!)

Friday, April 15, 2011


I've been trying to introduce new foods into our lives, not only for the kids, but for myself too!  So each trip to the grocery store, I'll buy something I haven't tried yet or tried in awhile.  After a little research, I try different ways of cooking whatever it is...this led me to "Braised Radishes" this week!

I don't like radishes...raw!  I know this.  Ever since I was a kid, I haven't liked radishes.  I discovered last week that I do, however, love them cooked!  They lose the bitterness and taste very earthy and a little sweet with a meaty kind of texture.  The braising liquid is a mixture of chicken broth, shallots, butter, sugar and vinegar, which adds to the sweet / savory yumminess.  The radishes cook out a lot of the color, making everything a pleasant pink (hmmm, princess rosy radishes, anyone?)  WARNING:  If you have any left over, don't heat them up at work...even though they taste good, they do smell like dirt!

As I was prepping my radishes, my two-year-old pushed her step-stool over to the counter to see what I was doing.  "Mmm, mommy, I want some!"  So I sliced off a very thin piece of radish and gave it to her.  She tried a couple of times to bite it...with her front teeth and then with her giant molars in the back...decided she couldn't take a bite and handed it back to me.  I'm so proud that she will try things!  I put that slice of radish in my mouth, decided I didn't want to bite it, but I ate it anyway...I'm so proud that I will try things!

So after the radishes had braised for about 15 minutes (the recipe says 10-12 minutes; I was playing in the living room with the baby) some of the radishes were more done than others, so as I ate one that was less done, it still had that bitter finish that the raw ones do (that's the part I don't like).  I spoke before I thought and asked my husband "are radishes related to horseradish?"  Go ahead and laugh at me...sometimes I just have to say it out loud to answer my own question.