Friday, April 27, 2007

New Pepper Grinder

A new pepper grinder doesn't really sound all that exciting, does it? Well, around here it is! My mom gave me an electric pepper grinder several years ago and I must confess, I've always hated it. Sorry, Mom, but it's true. It was battery operated which had a novelty appeal at first, but there were several design flaws that made it truly maddening.

First of all, the batteries were housed on the top of the unit. Not only did this make the peppermill top heavy, but the base of the peppermill was rather narrow, further compounding the problem. One little nudge and it was on its side, sometimes falling off the counter, popping open and sending peppercorns all over the floor.

Which brings us to the second major design flaw - it was hard to open and refill. I had to fight to get the darned thing open and of course when it finally popped open, again - peppercorns everywhere. I did learn to try to grind almost every last peppercorn before trying to refill, but it didn't grind very well with only a few small pieces floating around.

The thing got on my last nerve but did I ever replace it? Nope - just lived with it and cursed it. Part of the problem was that I really didn't know what to buy - I didn't want to buy another big design flaw! However, the folks over at CL came through with some very good suggestions, as usual. There were a few good threads on peppermills with several promising recommendations, including this Magnum Peppermill that comes highly recommended from Cook's Illustrated as well.

In the end I settled on this one from Kuhn Rikon - it was cheaper than the Magnum and qualified for free shipping. I was also attracted to its very unique design. The peppermill is stored upside down, elminating that annoying pepper dust that usually decorates my cabinets and counter tops. It's also easy to hold and twist and comes in fun colors. I ordered it on a Saturday - it was shipped that same day and I received it early the next week - great service!

So, now after some 5-7 years of fearing and dreading my peppermill, I am happily peppering everything in site. The grind seems to be nice and even - another thing my other mill seemed to be incapable of achieving. Supposedly you can adjust the coarseness of the grind, but I'm not sure that feature is working all that well. Fortunately, I'm quite happy with the coarseness of the grind and I'm not sure I'd really need to change it anyway.

Isn't it silly how sometimes the simplest purchases can be the hardest to make? What the heck took me so long to get rid of that mill and buy a new one??? It took me less time to pick out my side-by-side refrigerator! I was tempted to balcony drop my old peppermill, but I didn't - I just placed it in the trash and bade it good riddance............

Monday, April 23, 2007

Delicious Marinade

With the weather turning warmer this weekend, it was time to dust off the grill and spend some time outdoors. On Saturday we did steaks and tonight it was chicken, using one of our favorite marinades. I can't believe I haven't posted this to my blog yet - it's such a good one!

We were having problems getting the chicken to cook thoroughly, so the photo only shows a couple of small pieces. And it's kind of hard to get a picture of marinade alone......

In any case, this marinade goes together in minutes and, just as its name implies, is very zesty and full of flavor. I'm not fond of how the taste of so many marinades just don't come through once you take the meat off the grill. Not so with this one - it's a nice, thick sauce that really seems to stay with the chicken. I prefer to marinade overnight for maximum flavor.

It's another busy week of subbing and sports here, so posting will probably be hit or miss..............

Sunday, April 22, 2007

SGOTW #50 - Newspaper Clippings

Every 5 weeks, Cookieee, our gracious SGOTW hostess, picks something from the "other hat". The "other hat" is filled with various ideas that stray from the cookbook theme that is followed most of the time. What a fun idea!

The idea that came out of the "other hat" this week was Newspaper Clippings. When I saw that, I thought I would have to bow out for this week as I rarely clip recipes from the newspaper. For one thing, recipes in our local paper rarely catch my eye and for another, I'm very anti-clutter - I hate having scraps of paper all over the place. And really, between the internet and the cookbooks I own, aren't there already more recipes than I can ever try in my lifetime?

Surprise, surprise - I did end up finding something in my recipe binder - a recipe for shrimp, corn and basil that sounded delightfully simple and summery - perfect for this warm weather that has finally arrived. It is in fact very simple to pull together, but it was a little bland in my opinion. I suspect that is because the corn wasn't the freshest. It's way too early for good, fresh corn in this part of the country, so this recipe, which really relies on very fresh flavors to carry it off, might be best saved for later in the summer when excellent corn can be had. It says it serves 4, but I'd say it was 4 rather small servings - which worked out fine for us since we had large side salads to fill us up, but if you're feeding a crowd of big, hungry guys, 4 servings would really be stretching it.

Each week I wait in excitement for the announcement the new SGOTW number! And I am very excited by this week's cookbook number which is #52. This happens to be a new cookbook that I acquired this past week that I am dying to cook out of and there's a fairly interesting story to go along with it. Now..............what to make, what to make?

And don't forget, SGOTW #52 is a special game. We are to go back and pick a recipe from one of the previous games - you can find all the games listed here. If you participate and want me to include a link to your blog, just leave me a comment here or over at CLBB and I'd be happy to include you.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Cooking Light - May 2007

Looking over the May issue, I ended up making note of quite a few of them, including almost every recipe from a section entitled "Fiery & Cool". Some of the things that caught my eye were a pineapple salsa, plantains mashed with coconut milk and a banana and black bean puree - all things that wouldn't normally appear on my table, but sounded very appealing.

As always, what catches my eye and what actually ends up on our table are usually two very different things, but in any's my list:

Toasted Millet with Parmesan
Arugula Pesto
Chickpea, Chard, and Tomato Stew
Raisin-Honey Milk Bread
Banana-Coconut Ice Cream
Pineapple-Lime Sorbet
Pine Nut and Lemon Orzo
Sesame Green Beans
Raspberry-Ginger Sorbet
Spinach-Cheese Bake
Grilled Tuna with White Bean and Charred Onion Salad
Chicken Vegetable Potpie
Lemony Chickpea Dip
Szechuan Spicy Noodles with Carrot-Cucumber Relish
Jerk Chicken
Indonesian Beef Curry with Coconut Rice
Coconut-Chile Snapper with a Caribbean Bean Puree
Chipotle Pork Soft Tacos with Pineapple Salsa
Chile-Rubbed Steak with Corn and Red Pepper Relish My Review!

Just a quick post today - now it's off to enjoy the beautiful weather today with a visit to the Italian ice shop, a baseball game and steaks on the grill for dinner tonight..............

Edited to add: Erika from Tummy Treasure has added her list of recipes to try from the May issue of Cooking Light.

Friday, April 20, 2007


Whew! It's been a long week....I subbed every day this week and 4 of them were full days. The evenings were full of baseball, Tae Kwon Do, grocery shopping and a cooking class (more on that later). So now my house is a mess and my blog is neglected.

Ah well, I don't think I'll be getting caught up on my posts tonight, though. Spring has finally made a glorious return after cruelly hiding from us for at least the last 3 weeks. It's sunny and 71º and I'm headed to the deck with beer in hand. And it's supposed to be like this all weekend - what a gift!

Too bad I don't have a laptop - I could blog outdoors! Maybe some day.........

I hope you are having beautiful weather where you are too. Get out and enjoy it.

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

I have never fixed stuffed chicken breasts, at least not that I can recall. It always seemed to0 fussy - trying to cut a slit without going all the way through on either side, stuffing the filling in only to have seep out as you cook it - it all seemed like too much trouble.

I'm happy to say that I was wrong - at least judging from my first experience. This recipe from Cooking Light has been on my "to try" list for ages. No kidding - the recipe is from 1997 - I wonder if it's actually been on my list that long???

In any case, this recipe calls for a fairly simple list of ingredients and was suprisingly easy to assemble. The flavors of artichoke, lemon and goat cheese melded together very nicely and I even had enough topping leftover to sprinkle on top, giving an additional flavor boost. I forgot to reserve the artichoke juices, but I simply put in a bit of wine as a substitution which worked beautifully, although I think we all would have been happier if there had been a bit more sauce to go around.

My youngest does not care for artichokes or goat cheese, but that wasn't a problem - it's very easy to simply cook up one plain chicken breast to satisfy the picky eaters, a definite bonus.

Now that I'm no longer intimidated to cook stuffed chicken breasts, I can't wait to try other fillings!

Monday, April 16, 2007

Looking Back on Easter Brunch

Hmph. Although I'm very grateful we did NOT get the 6-12 inches of snow originally forecast, there is still a dusting of snow on the ground. It's April 16th - that's just wrong! They keep flip-flopping on what might happen, but there's still the potential for 2-4 inches today. The silver lining? I don't have to break out my spring wardrobe yet - very little of which fits.

I'm a bit behind on posting recipes. First, I'm going to go back about one week to Easter Brunch. My MIL hosted the brunch and she had lots of tasty items on the menu. I didn't get pictures of everything and in fact, I'm surprised I got pictures of anything - there was a lot going on in that house with the four of us, 2 SILs, one BIL and four nieces. Oh, and Bailey too. On the menu - a ham, assorted muffins, a fruit salad, sautéed cabbage, a quinoa salad, an asparagus tart and a Lemon-Raspberry French Toast Strata. Everything was delicious.

The quinoa salad was very good - it would make a great side dish for a summer cookout. We skipped the scallions due to one onion-hater in the group, and also skipped the mint. If I made it again - and I plan to - I would still skip the mint (I don't care for mint in savory dishes), but I would definitely keep the scallions, or perhaps better yet, substitute chives instead. The recipe calls for steaming the quinoa - I was interested if this would make a difference in the texture, but not interested enough to go through the extra and inconvenient steps necessary to steam it - we just cooked it on the stovetop like you would white rice (quinoa can also be cooked like white rice in the rice cooker).

This was a simple salad that let the flavors of the fresh ingredients shine through. I thought that the addition of butter to the salad was unusual - I would normally think of olive oil going in a salad like this - and it certainly was delicious with butter, but I'd venture to guess that olive oil would be fine too if you're worried about saturated fats.

Everyone loved the aspargus tart. This tart is very similar to one I've made from Martha Stewart's Everyday Food, but this tart calls for the cherry tomatoes and parmesan cheese in addition to the asparagus and Gruyere. It's very easy to put together, it's elegant and it's delicious. The MS tart does not call for blanching the asparagus first and as I recall, it worked just fine, so feel free to skip this extra step if you wish.

All in all, a delicious meal. Thanks Memom!

On a side note....have you seen Martha's newly updated website? They've revamped it and many of the recipes and crafts now have videos that show you exactly what to do! How cool is that? I'm a visual learner and actually seeing something done, as opposed to just reading the instructions, can be quite invaluable.

Back tomorrow with a stuff chicken breast recipe from this weekend..........

Sunday, April 15, 2007

SGOTW: Listing of all games.......

In an effort to make the Anniversary SGOTW a little easier for everyone, here is a list of every game. I will try to keep it updated. Let me know if any of the links are not working.

Sunday Game of the Week #50 04-15-07

Sunday Game of the Week #49 04-08-07

Sunday Game of the Week #48 04-01-07

Sunday Game of the Week #47 03-25-07

Sunday Game of the Week #46 03-18-07

Sunday Game of the Week #45 03-11-07

Sunday Game of the Week #44 03-04-07

Sunday Game of the Week #43 02-25-07

Sunday Game of the Week #42 02-18-07

Sunday Game of the Week #41 02-11-07

Sunday Game of the Week #40 2-04-07

Sunday Game of the Week #39 1-28-07

Sunday Game of the Week #38 1-21-07

Sunday Game of the Week #37 1-14-07

Sunday Game of the Week #36 1-7-07

Sunday Game of the Week #35 12/31/06

Sunday Game of the Week #34 12-24-06

Sunday Game of the Week #33 12-17-06

Sunday Game of the Week #32 12-10-06

Sunday Game of the Week #31 12-03-06

Sunday Game of the Week #30 11-26-06

Sunday Game of the Week #29 11-19-06

Sunday Game of the Week #28 11-12-06

Sunday Game of the Week #27 11/5/06

Sunday Game of the Week #26 10-29-06

Sunday Game of the Week #25 10-22-06

Sunday Game of the Week #24 10-15-06

Sunday Game of the Week #23 10-08-06

Sunday Game of the Week #22 10-01-06

Sunday Game of the Week #21 9-24-06

Sunday Game of the Week #20 9-17-06

Sunday Game of the Week #19 9-10-06

Sunday Game of the Week #18 9-3-06

Sunday Game of the Week #17 8-27-06

Sunday Game of the Week #16 8-20-06

Sunday Game of the Week #15 8-13-06

Sunday Game of the Week #14 8-6-06

Sunday Game of the Week #13 7-30-06

Sunday Game of the Week #12 7-23-06

Sunday Game of the Week #11 7-16-06

Sunday Game of the Week #10 7-9-06

Sunday Game Of The Week #9 7-2-06

Sunday Game Of The Week #8 6-25-06

Sunday Game of the Week #7 6-18-06

Sunday Game Of The Week # 6

Sunday Game of the Week #5

Sunday Game Of The Week #4

Sunday Game Of The Week #3

Sunday Game Of The Week #2

Sunday Game Of The Week #1

SGOTW #49: Cooking Light 2002 Annual

Well, I managed to squeak in this week's recipe yesterday, so here we go......

Last week's number ended up being #191. For me, this translated to my 2002 Cooking Light Annual. Not technically a cookbook - really a collection - but I have so few cookbooks that I'm using anything that will remotely qualify.
I had to choose my recipe in a hurry and decided on a quinoa dish. For those who don't already know, quinoa (pronounced KEEN-wa), though usually classified as a whole grain, is in fact a seed, according to The World's Healthiest Foods:
We usually think of quinoa as a grain, but it is actually the seed of a plant that, as its scientific name Chenopodium quinoa reflects, is related to beets, chard and spinach. These amino acid-rich seeds are not only very nutritious, but also very delicious. Cooked quinoa seeds are fluffy and creamy, yet slightly crunchy. They have a delicate, somewhat nutty flavor. While the most popular type of quinoa is a transparent yellow color, other varieties feature colors such as orange, pink, red, purple or black. Although often difficult to find in the marketplace, the leaves of the quinoa plant are edible, with a taste similar to its green-leafed relatives, spinach, chard and beets.
One of the unique things about quinoa is that it is one of very few non-meat sources of complete proteins and so can play an important role in the diet of vegetarians. It is important to rinse quinoa before cooking as processing methods can leave behind a bitter compound. Quinoa can be cooked just like regular white rice, but with a 1:2 ratio - 1 cup of quinoa to 2 cups of water.

This is a chilled salad with quinoa, wild rice, a few veggies and a balsamic-Dijon dressing. Unfortunately, we did not have much time to chill the salad, so we didn't get to taste it properly last night and I reserved final judgement until I tried it today, thoroughly chilled.

Overall, I'd give this yet another so-so rating. There's nothing terrible about it, just nothing that really grabs me and makes me want to make it again. DH was in charge of the dressing and put in the full 2 cloves which he chopped fairly large. When I use raw garlic in a dressing, I rarely use more than once clove and I put it through a garlic press so that you don't bite into any big chunks. As much as I adore garlic, I find raw garlic to be quite overpowering and this recipe was no exception - the garlic overwhelmed the other flavors. Even so, I don't think that cutting back on the garlic would save this recipe for me.

Still, I would like to start cooking with quinoa more often. We tried a delicious quinoa dish over Easter that I'll be posting here sometime later this week.

As for SGOTW #50, there's a twist this week. There is no number pick - this week we are to cook a recipe from a newspaper clipping. Great idea, only I rarely clip anything from the newspaper, so this could be a tough one for me. I think I have something lying around though.........

Heads up for SGOTW #52. Cookieee, the game's gracious host, decided that we are to make one of the recipes already posted (not your own) in any of the 52 games we have played. If you'd like to join in, I have listed all the games above to make browsing a little easier.

Stay tuned this week as I catch up recipes from Easter, a stuffed chicken breast recipe and a preview of the May issue of Cooking Light............

Saturday, April 14, 2007

An old favorite: Artichoke Dip

Whoops, there I go again, letting almost a whole week slip by without posting. However, my oldest son and I had some sort of mystery virus this past week which caused fever, fatigue, stomach ache and lack of appetite. So not only was there very little cooking going on, there wasn't much eating of any kind going on - I didn't even feel much like talking about food. Poor DS really got the raw end of the deal, though. While I recovered fairly quickly, he seemed to get better but then got worse and then broke out in an awful case of the hives. Not much eating OR sleeping going on in this household.

Anyway, things look to be on the mend health-wise this weekend and now it's time to get back to blogging. I still have some catching up to do from Easter weekend! We spent the holiday weekend in Delaware with DH's family, so I didn't do a whole lot of cooking that weekend, but I did bring two appetizers for Saturday night's dinner. Normally I try to look up new recipes to try, but I decided to fall back on an old favorite, Artichoke Dip. It's easy, it's always well-received and it's been ages since I've made it.

Artichoke Dip
(the dip before it hits the oven)

It couldn't be simpler. Just dump the ingredients in your food processor, give it a spin until it reaches the desired consistency, put it in a baking dish and bake. It could conceivably be lightened up a bit, but I think this is one of those dishes that benefits from using things like full-fat mayonnaise. I like to serve it with water crackers or thinly sliced crostini. Like I said, quick, easy, tasty and always a hit.

I do hope to get back to cooking this weekend - maybe even some baking considering the potentially awful weather headed our way. I'm so depressed that the s-word is even a possibility on April 15th!!! I'd MUCH rather be grilling and hanging out on the deck, but I suppose a chance to whip up some baked goods and maybe put on a pot of marinara sauce isn't such a bad thing.

In any case I will be back tomorrow either with more recipes from Easter or, depending on what ends up on the table for dinner tonight, perhaps my SGOTW recipe.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

SGOTW #48: Sunset Vegetarian Cooking

For those of you who missed my first post and don't know what SGOTW is, check out this post.

This week, the number was 121. My #121 turned out to be Sunset Vegetarian Cooking. I can't believe that Amazon still lists it, but there it is - and for .01! This really is more of a supplement, but I'm using it darn it - I have so few cookbooks as it is!

Not the most attractive cover ever, eh?

No real story behind this - it was just an affordable addition to my collection of vegetarian cookbooks. And I did get at least two recipes out of it that became part of my regular rotation when I didn't eat meat - a veggie kabob and a zucchini fritatta. I haven't made them much lately, but I do use the kabob marinade now and again - it's very good.

Alas, the recipe this week - I made it Wednesday night - didn't turn out all that well. It was one of those that sounded like it could go either way - it could be bad or it could have surprised me. And as I was making it, the sauce tasted pretty good, but after it baked, something happened and it didn't taste as good out of the oven.

Green Enchiladas
(Sorry, there just doesn't seem to be any way to make these look appetizing.)

The recipe was Green Enchiladas - cheese and onion enchiladas with a green sauce overtop. I did stay pretty true to the recipe, but made two changes. First, I used less cheese - 9 ounces instead of 12. We didn't have enough jack cheese and I decided not to supplement with other cheeses because it would help cut down the fat. I also used light sour cream in place of regular. I don't think that changing either of these two things would save the recipe, but it's possible.

It wasn't terrible, it just tasted muddled - no one flavor really shined through. I think maybe the culprit was something I was a bit afraid to use in the first place - the dreaded cream of mushroom soup. I tried to elevate the status of this ingredient by using an organic version, but I'm thinking maybe the yuckier Campbell's version might have worked better! I also think that using fresh spinach would help quite a bit - but that would also make this recipe a lot more time consuming.

Anyway, I liked it okay, DH liked it okay, my youngest really liked it (go figure!!!!) and my oldest didn't like it much at all - but he ate it. I don't think I'd make this again, but I'd really like to find a good recipe with this basic idea - but instead of tweaking this one, I'd be inclined to look for a whole new recipe.

If you played this week and would like me to include a link to your blog, just leave a comment or contact me over at the CLBB and I will place a link here on this post.

To see what others cooked for this week's game, check out this thread on the CLBB.

On to next week. Drum roll please.................the number for next week is: Stay tuned for the announcement of this week's number...................I will post here once it has been posted on the CLBB.

Saturday, April 07, 2007

Pork Tenderloin

We only started cooking pork tenderloin just a few years ago. The reason is at least in part due to the fact that I didn't eat meat for about 7 years. When I did start eating meat again, I was very picky and very limited in what meats I was willing to eat and especially picky about what meats I was willing to prepare. We started adding most cuts back into our diet, but it took a good long while for steaks or things like roasts to make it back onto our table.

Now, pork tenderloin is one of my favorite cuts of meat. It's tender, it's lean, it's flavorful and it's easy to bring to the table. Our preferred method of cooking tenderloin is to roast in the oven or better, yet, grill it. This recipe from Cooking Light, however, calls for slicing it, pounding it and then cooking it in a skillet. The rest of this dish is quite simple - it's basically a simple tapenade that is spooned over the cooked pork. Easy!

Overall, I give this recipe a so-so rating. The tapenade was good, but it didn't blow me away - I can't put my finger on it - there was certainly nothing bad about it, it just didn't wow me. We have so many other ways we love to prepare pork that I don't know if this would make it to our regular rotation. Still, if I were ever stuck for a way to prepare pork, this would be a good jumping off place - we usually have all of these ingredients on hand. I also wasn't thrilled with this method of cooking pork. I pounded the sliced tenderloin to about 1/2-inch thick, but as they cooked, the slices shrunk and actually fattened up a bit, making them not quite as tender in the end result. I think I would prefer roasting the tenderloin, then slicing, and then adding the tapenade.

Of course my perception of this dish might have had something to do with the fact that it was 9:00 at night - very, very late for us to be eating dinner. My oldest son had a Tae Kwon Do belt test that kept us out much later than anticipated. By the time dinner got to the table, I really wasn't all that hungry anymore! Which would also have something to do with the blurry photo............

Friday, April 06, 2007

Quick, Easy and Vegetarian

This recipe from Cooking Light was originally scheduled as last Friday's Lenten meal, but we ended up going out for pizza instead, so it go pushed to this week.

There are no suprises with this dish - it pretty much tastes exactly how you would expect. What I liked about was that it was served over polenta instead of rice for something a little out of the ordinary and that it looked very easy to throw together. What really made this dish for me was the addition the dollop of sour cream and the chunks of avocado - the dish would not have been the same without them.

This stew was definitely in need of some kick, so I added a bit of chipotle powder for a little smokey heat - I would definitely do something similar if we were to make this again - it would have been a bit bland without it. The only other thing I changed was to use light sour cream in place of fat free. This dish is low enough in fat that I think using light would still keep it within the 30% of calories from fat guidelines.

I would consider making something like this again - it was very easy and very open to interpretation. It would be nice to try it with a homemade polenta that had been jazzed up a bit (our store did not carry Mexican-style polenta), but then again, that would take away from the ease of preparation which is definitely part of the allure of this dish.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Simple Sides

Hmph. It's Spring Break here, but it sure doesn't feel like it! As I sit here and look out the window, it's 35º with a windchill of 25º, it's windy and blowing snow. Double hmph. And yuck.

One thing I don't tend to blog about much is side dishes. This is because I don't usually follow a given recipe for sides, I just throw things together. Still, at least for me, side dishes can be the hardest part about getting dinner on the table - who wants to mess with complicated sides when it's hard enough to get the main dish together? And how many nights in a row can one eat salad, our go-to side?

So, for anyone else who has a tough time with sides, I would like to start sharing more ideas. They may not always be out and out recipes - more like just an ingredient list with approximations, but hopefully they will help inspire you think up different ideas for serving those green beans or sweet potatoes.

One of my family's absolute favorites is sliced, roasted sweet potato - "chips", if you will. I was always very wary of trying sweet potatoes until I discovered that I liked them with savory ingredients, not sweet. Our favorite way to prepare them is with a little garlic, olive oil, salt, pepper, chipotle powder and Penzeys' .

Spicy Roasted Sweet Potato Chips

Another favorite is oven-roasted potatoes. I think I've posted about these potatoes before, but now I have better pictures! The trick here is to cook them at a very high heat - 500º - this will create a soft and creamy inside with a nicely browned, crisp outside. And at this high heat, it only takes about 15-20 minutes for them to roast, instead of 40 minutes or longer. Again, just a simple toss with garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper and herbs of your choice - in this case, rosemary - and you're ready to go.

The potatoes before they hit the hot oven.

Garlic and Herb Roasted Potatoes

Feta is a great way to dress up a simple salad. We often do tomato and cucumber salads tossed with a little balsamic, but that can get boring. But just add a little feta or fresh mozzarella and things get a little more interesting. Maybe even a few kalamata olives with the feta......

Cucumber and Tomato Salad
Cucumber, Tomato and Feta Salad

That's all for now. I hope to expand our side dish repetoire and have more recipes to post in the near future.

Hmph. Stupid weather. Maybe I'll bake something to bring to my in-laws for our visit this weekend............

Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Weigh In Wednesday

I'm getting so behind on posting! But I couldn't miss posting today, though it will be a quickie.......

This past week went okay. I only got to the Y once. I've been trying to go when I'm already out and about taking the boys to their activities to save on gas and time, but a couple of their activities got changed or canceled, so I didn't get to go. Guess I'll have to come up with a back-up plan for those kinds of days. With the kids off school and the upcoming holiday, it will be hard to get there again this week, but maybe I can go Monday. I'll just have to fit in some at-home exercising in the meantime. I so miss having the Y just a few minutes away - it was so much easier!

Still not counting calories - that's the one thing that really keeps standing in my way.

Things are nuts around here with soccer and baseball, so it will be a challenge to keep up with my workouts, but I will do my best.

That's it for tonight. I'll be back tomorrow with some more recipes. I've been cooking and takign photos, I just haven't had time to post about it! Until tomorrow........... The webs free Calorie Calculator

Sunday, April 01, 2007

SGOTW #47: Moosewood Low-Fat Favorites

So, the pick this week was for #34, which for me happened to be the Moosewood Restaurant's Low-Fat Favorites.

Out of the 25 cookbooks I own, 7 are vegetarian. Vegetarian, however, does not always mean healthful and lowfat, so I bought this cookbook in an attempt to find more low-fat vegetarian recipes. As I said earlier, I'm still not quite sure what I think about this cookbook, but I'm not ready to give up on it.

I chose this recipe - Mushroom Wheat Berry Pilaf - because my recipe repetoire is lacking in interesting side dishes and I have never cooked with wheat berries before. At first I didn't think I would be able to make this recipe tonight after all - it called for soaking the wheat berries for at least 8 hours and then cooking them for at least one more hour. Different sites on the internet said different things, most indicating that wheat berries could take hours to cook, thus the suggested soaking time. To make it more confusing, the bag I bought - simply labeled whole wheat (I had to make and educated guess that this was the same thing as wheat berries) - had no cooking instructions whatsoever. I had hoped to cook both the wheat berries and the brown rice in my rice cooker, but I decided to cook the wheat berries on the stove and put them on in the afternoon, just in case they really did take hours to cook. As it turns out, they only took one hour to become tender, so I really could have cooked them in the rice cooker along with the brown rice and will do so next time.

The rest of the recipe came together easily and it turned out quite well. I don't know if I'd call the recipe fantastic, but it was quite good and we really enjoyed the chewy texture of the wheat berries - I look forward to including them in more rice dishes and perhaps even a stew.

The wheat berry salad wasn't the only new dish we tried tonight. I stocked up on chicken thighs at Sam's Club not too long ago, but haven't made anything using them recently. I decided on a recipe from Cooking Light that seemed simple, yet tasty. It was very easy and quite good. Again, not a knockout recipe, but very good. The boys loved it.

Along with the chicken and rice, I served roasted green beans tossed with chopped kalamata olives, crumbled feta cheese, salt and pepper.

To wrap things up, Cookieee has posted the number for this week's SGOTW and it's 121. For me, this means my Sunset Vegetarian Cooking and I've already picked a recipe. I won't say what yet as it will be a very busy week and there are no guarantees that I'll even get around to it, but I certainly hope to. If you'd like to rediscover the cookbooks on your shelf, I invite you to join in. Join us on the CLBB on this thread and if you have a blog, send me your link and I'll post it, along with my recipe, next Sunday.



SGOTW stand for Sunday Game of the Week, a brain-child of Cookieee, a member of the CLBB. It's a weekly game designed to get us using those cookbooks that may be sitting on our shelves, gathering dust. Obviously I'm a little late to the game, as they are already on #47! I hope you will bear with me on this long post as I attempt to explain this game and why I want to play.

Here are the basics behind this game:

How to play "Sunday Game of the Week"

1. Pick a number from 1 to ? (depending on how many COOKBOOKS you have) or if you want, I will pick the number. (At this point, she is picking the numbers for us.)
2. Go get the COOKBOOK
3. Pick out a NEW recipe
4. Post what COOKBOOK you picked, TELL US SOMETHING ABOUT IT, what year it was published, the author, what kind of book, it's history with you, whatever personal information you would like to share.
5. Post the recipe you picked and tell us why, if you want to.
6. Sometime this week, make it.
7. Post a review, hopefully before the next weeks game starts

SUNDAY GAME OF THE WEEK is open to anyone that would like to play


There are 2 "hats". One holds suggestions on different ways to play the game and is used every 5th game. The other holds numbers of books that people submit that they would like to have drawn. These all may be made at anytime from anyone.

If you don't have as many cookbooks as the number drawn, just keep counting what you do have, over and over till you reach that number. We want everyone to be able to play.

As I've mentioned before, I don't buy a lot of cookbooks. I have 25, to be exact. That sounds like a good many to me, but when I read that some people own 100, 200, even 800 cookbooks, I am stunned. I'll never own that many, and frankly have no desire to, but I would like to expand my collection a bit.

To clarify how to number your cookbooks: You can either count them as they sit right on the shelf, or you can put your titles into a spreadsheet or list and number them. If you count them as they sit on the shelf, you would need to be careful to shelve them exactly the same way each week to avoid repeats. I decided that a spreadsheet is easier - I never re-shelve my books the same way each time. Since I only have 25, and many of the numbers they pick are higher than that, I simply repeated my list all the way up to 200.

My reasons for joining in this game are twofold. For starters, even though I don't own many cookbooks, I'm not even making good use of the ones I own! I rely so much on the internet to search for recipes, that I tend to not even pay much attention to what's sitting right on my bookshelf. While it is much easier to search the internet when you are looking for a specific recipe, rather than leaf through cookbook after cookbook, there are many treasures behind these pages, just waiting to be found. This game will be a great way for me to sit up and take notice of things I have been overlooking.

Secondly, as much cooking as I do, I tend to rely on the same sources over and over. While I love Cooking Light and rely on it heavily, I'd like to expand a bit and try recipes from other sources more often. I think it will also help me realize which cookbooks I really like and which cookbooks I could probably get rid of. And perhaps I will finally discover a cookbook or two that I really, really enjoy.

This game relies on using cookbooks only. At some point however, maybe starting next week, I'd like to expand on this idea and start trying out a new recipe from a chef or internet site that I don't normally cook from. I don't know if this would be a weekly event or what, but I'll post with more details when I get it figured out.

If you'd like to join in SGOTW, just look here each Sunday - or over at the CLBB - for the newest number pick. I'll be posting both here and on the CLBB each week, so please come join us. If you're a blogger who would like to participate and would like me to include you in my weekly SGOTW post, just send me a link and I'll be happy to include a link to your blog. But please remember that this is a CLBB event, not a Savory Notebook event - I just thought it would be interesting to post about here on my blog too.

If you have any questions about how to play this game, you can read this thread on the CLBB where I asked quite a few questions before jumping in.

Last week's cookbook number was #34. For me, this ended up being Moosewood Restaurants Low-Fat Favorites.

I have not made more than one or two recipes from this book. Truthfully, I really can't tell if I'm all that crazy about it, but I'm not ready to give it away yet. I need to break out and try things that don't normally appeal to me - such as recipes that aren't loaded with carbs and cheese - and I think this cookbook would be a good one for that.

Anyway, the recipe I picked is Mushroom Wheat Berry Pilaf and I will be making it tonight. Ideally, we'd have made our recipe and posted a review about it on the CLBB by now, but my dinners got pushed back due to several unexpected baseball practices last week. I guess the good news is that, as a result, most of my meals are already planned for this week!

I'll be back later to post my review on this recipe and to let you know what's happening for next week's game.