Tricky Tuesday

Tuesday is usually the one night of the week when everyone is at the table for dinner. With exams throwing the college kids into a frenzy (hence the lack of posts), I thought at least 3/4 of the family would be eating dinner at home.  Being the thoughtful mom I am, I searched the cookbook for a main dish which would be fun and easy to make, using what was already on hand.  I rarely follow any recipe exactly, but making an extra trip out to the grocery store was out of the question.  I came across  this great chicken with fettuccine recipe which not only sounded delicious, but also included ingredients that I either had or could substitute. Bingo!

Knowing that the boys would have to leave for work shortly after dinner, I planned to have the meal a little early.  I was feeling rather pleased with myself for my resourcefulness and hard work on this meal, when son #1 walked in the kitchen and said, “Bye Mom!”

“Where are you going?” I asked, confused…

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?  I have to go back to campus tonight.”  

OK, well that still leaves half of us, I thought. This incredible culinary achievement would not be entirely wasted..

Around 5:45, son #2 came into the kitchen.  “Bye, Mom, see ya later.”

“And where are YOU going?” I asked, seeing the ratio of family enjoyment to awesome meal quickly shrinking.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you?  I have to go in to work early tonight. Sam is, too.   We’re  meeting Ed by 6:00.”

Time to get my Mom face on.

 “No,” I told him,” can’t you call Ed and change it to 6:30?  I haven’t spent time on this meal for none of you to be here to eat it.”   After a little bit of persuasion, he managed to change the work time and he was glad he did (not just for the sake of his well-being either..)!

Chicken With Fettuccine

6 boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 tbsp. butter or margarine

1 tbsp. vegetable oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1/2 cup minced fresh basil or 1 tbsp. dried basil

4 garlic cloves, minced

1/2 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

3/4 c. chicken broth

1/2 c. whipping cream or half and half

2 tbsp. dried parsley

2 large tomatoes, diced

1 lb. fettuccine

Flatten chicken to 1/2-inch thickness.  In a skillet, brown chicken on both sides in butter and oil; remove and set aside. In the same skillet, saute onion until tender.  Add basil, garlic, salt, and pepper.  cook and stir for 2-3 minutes. Stir in broth, cream, parsley, and tomatoes.  Return chicken to pan.  Cover and simmer until tender.  Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain.  Place pasta on large serving platter.  Arrange chicken over top of pasta; pour sauce over all.  Serve with garden salad  and enjoy!

My substitutions:  I used about 2 tsp. powdered garlic for the fresh garlic;  1 1/2 cups crushed canned tomatoes instead of fresh tomatoes; and egg noodles instead of fettuccine.  I also thickened the sauce with cornstarch before pouring it over the chicken.

 

Monday in Minutes

Mon·day: the first day of the working week, hated by mankind in general and tolerated only during football season.

Maybe that is not the exact definition, but it’s pretty close! Despite our dislike of Mondays, they do have one redeeming quality in our house: all the men have regularly scheduled obligations on Monday night, leaving us women to our blissful selves. Since the guys are not home to eat, this is the night we pull out the good stuff make “chick food”. French toast, omelets, light salads, and yogurt are a few of our favorites, but to stick to our goal of spicing up the routine we tried an awesome new smoothie recipe last night. Keeping this one from becoming a habit is going to be difficult! Maybe we can compromise a little….

Minted Peach Smoothies

2 cups milk
2 cups frozen sliced peaches
1/4 cup orange juice concentrate
2 tbsp. sugar
5 ice cubes

In a blender, combine all ingredients;

 cover and process until smooth.  Pour into glasses and serve immediately.

 Add mint sprigs for garnish.  Yields 4 servings.

Done in 10 minutes or less, leaving plenty of time to enjoy the rest of the boy-free evening!

Sunday Dinner Dessert

Sunday dinner at our house has been elevated to a ritualistically traditional status. The pot roast is placed in the crockpot at precisely 11pm Saturday night and covered with onion soup mix and (when available) half a can of coke. Said pot roast is not touched until after church Sunday morning when the whole fam troops into the kitchen to begin the rest of the ceremonial preparation. Rice, broccoli, carrots, mashed potatoes, and bread are added to the menu with no. deviations. whatsoever. If so much as one item is missing from (or added to) the Sunday dinner table, the security of the entire universe will be called into question. So when we told everyone not to move after dinner yesterday because we had dessert, the eyebrows went through the roof. Now we do have dessert every so often, but because of the harried nature of Sundays, dessert is NOT part of the traditional meal. Of course once this delicious recipe hit four male mouths, the universe-danger radars went down and (shockingly) the pie was gone in seconds.

The original recipe is from the Best of Country Cooking 2002, but we experimented with blueberries and strawberries instead of the recommended raspberries. Enjoy!

Strawberry-Blueberry Meringue Pie

1 cup flour
1/3 cup sugar
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. cold butter or margarine
1 egg, beaten
2 tbsp. milk

TOPPING:
2 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup strawberries, chopped
1 cup blueberries

In a bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt; cut in butter.  Combine egg and milk; stir into flour mixture (dough will be sticky). Press into the bottom and up the sides of a lightly greased 9-inch pie plate; set aside.

  In a mixing bowl, beat egg whites on medium speed for 5 hours until soft peaks form.

oh this shouldn't take long... 10 minutes later... Gradually beat in sugar, 1 tbsp. at a time until stiff peaks form.20 minutes...seriously?!? I HAVE CARPAL TUNNEL!!

  Combine strawberries and blueberries.  Fold into beaten egg whites.

  Spoon over the crust.  Bake at 350 for 30 minutes or until lightly browned.

  Cool on a wire rack.  Refrigerate.   Yield: 6-8 servings.

 

Dad: hmm. Meringue?  Just eat it Dad. There are no lemons, I promise.

Collective boys: no time to comment between bites. We take this to mean that dessert can safely be added to the Sunday dinner ceremony without harming the universe.

What’s The Big Idea?

Hello, and welcome to our blog! Who are we?

Jan: a homemaker and mom of 4 who has been cooking for 22 years and is officially cooked-out.  After serving 6 people 3 meals a day, 7 days a week, for 22 years Jan is sick of kitchen work. Her love of cookbooks and recipes has dimmed in the face of mountainous stacks of dirty dishes and hours of cleaning that leave her feet sore and her back aching. An impressive library of 70+ cookbooks, recipe booklets, and recipe boxes sits in a corner of the kitchen, used only when inspiration hits and an extra few minutes of cooking time become available (a very rare occurrence). Jan’s daily meal plans have been reduced to the grinding bordom of pulling meat out of the freezer, boiling potatoes, and throwing in random seasonings. Baking is the only kitchen activity that brings joy anymore, but unfortunately men cannot live by bread alone…

Barbi: a college senior with a creative bent who possesses an annoying desire to fix all problems. Studying fashion design and publishing at the University, conveniently located 20 minutes away, Barbi is living (and eating) at home until she graduates. Recognizing her mom’s culinary lethargy, and being the solution-driven type, Barbi formulated a plan to make cooking exciting again. Combining the neglected kitchen library, a love for blogs and writing, Jan’s technological ability, and a rainy Saturday afternoon with a little will power, the mother-daughter duo launched the Experiment…

Our goals:
1. To renew Jan’s love of cooking (before her nest empties)
2. To inspire Barbi’s growing love of cooking (before she flies the coop)
3. To make meals fun for the rest of the family (before they do whatever food-bored men do)
4. To put the 70+ cookbooks to good use
5. To create memories and induce laughter in every situation  🙂

So there you have it. The Cookbook Experiment. For 5 days a week Jan and Barbi will choose a new (ie: never tried) recipe from one of the cookbooks and incorporate it into a meal. We will then voluntarily humiliate ourselves by posting our experience with the new recipe, including the family’s responses, the recipe itself, and photos of the whole process for the world to see! Well, maybe not the world but at least a small audience (you).  Thanks for joining us and stay tuned!

Side-Dish Saturday

Saturdays are a tough day to plan an entire meal, especially when the kids are spread all over town and girlfriends or boyfriends are at the house and no one has a schedule that lines up with anyone else’s. A few people will still be eating breakfast when someone else is ready for lunch, so the usual weekend mantra is “fend for yourself”. The solution: we decided to make a new side dish every Saturday that can compliment whatever food is being thrown together between study breaks and meetings. For our first Side-Dish Saturday, we chose a deviled egg recipe from the Best of Country Cooking 2002 cookbook and added a few tweaks of our own..

Deviled Eggs with a Twist (or tweak, if you like)

12 hard-cooked eggs
1/3 cup plus 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
5 tsp. sugar
5 tsp. cider vinegar
1 tsp. prepared mustard
1/2 tsp. prepared horseradish
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. pepper
Paprika and minced fresh parsley
Slice eggs in half lengthwise; remove yolks and set whites aside. 

In a small bowl, mash yolks with a fork.  Add all ingredients except paprika and parsley and mix well with fork. 

 Spoon mixture into egg whites.  Garnish with paprika and minced parsley. 

 Chill 1 hour and serve.

*If using medium sized eggs rather than large, cut back the vinegar to 3 tsp. instead of 5.

Easy-peasy! Family responses to come.