Thursday, June 30, 2011

Banana Nut Muffins - 7 points

Notice my completely unevenly sized muffins? That is because I was making them hastily. I spotted my father-in-law, who was trying to be sneaky, mowing my lawn. I thought he needed a thank you, so I whipped up a batch of muffins for him to enjoy when he was finished with the yard. Even - no. Delicious - yes.

Banana Nut Muffins adapted from The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
1 tbsp baking powder
3/4 tsp salt
6 tbsp cold butter, cut into pieces
1 cup walnuts, chopped
3 overripe bananas, chopped
1/3 cup milk
1/2 cup apple sauce
1/2 tsp vanilla extract

1. In a large bowl, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Use a hand held mixer on low speed to combine the ingredients until the mixture resembles large crumbs.  Stir in walnuts.
2. In a medium bowl, combine bananas, milk, apple sauce, and vanilla. Use hand held mixer to blend until smooth.
3. Add banana mixture to flour mixture, stirring just until combined.
4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin cups; bake 25-30 minutes at 400F. Immediately remove from tins after baking; place on a wire rack to cool.
5. Yields 12, 7 point servings

I enjoyed this muffin guilt free, since I went for an hour long bike ride this morning. My father brought me a bike a year ago, and I finally got it in riding condition. I hadn't ridden one in years; I remembered how much fun it was but I had forgotten how much exercise it is. I am not ashamed to admit that there were a couple of hills that almost defeated me. The fun still outweighs the pain, and burning enough calories to earn a muffin is a big plus.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

A Date Day in Smyrna/Murfreesboro and 4 Point Scallops

Stone had the day off today, so we took a "date day". True, there was some errand running. But, we greatly enjoyed being together. We started out in Smyrna at the best donut shop in Tennessee. M and E's Donut Palace has a fantastic, small-town feel - low prices - excellent products - and the owners are the nicest people you could ever hope to meet. I wish they had a website I could link to, because you are going to want to visit after you see these pictures. 

Eclair and Chocolate frosted with nuts

Chocolate frosted and maple glazed with  nuts

Then we ran a couple of General...blah, blah, blah...before going to our favorite coffee shop, JoZoara,  to pick up some frappes - coconut for me, java chip for him. Both unbelievably good, but I am partial to mine. It tastes like an actual coconut. You just can't beat that. Of course, I have never had anything at JoZoara that I didn't love.

From there to Old Fort Park for a Deep and Meaningful Discussion (we want this marriage to last, so we schedule these at least every two weeks). From there to the movie theater, which was not showing movies at the times listed on the website. So, to the bike shop instead to pick up new helmets...blah, blah, blah. Then, lunch at Ahart's! Yes! I will reiterate that Ahart's is the best pizza shop in the world. The. Best. Ever.

BOT (Basil, bacon, onion, tomato)

Genova (Fresh basil, eggplant, mushrooms, tomato, and goat cheese) - apologies for the lack of focus

Chocolate on chocolate cheese cake (okay, this is actually from another visit but I didn't get a chance to post it and it must be seen)

Key lime cheesecake (again, from before, but still....)

What, you want more? How about the plate they bring out to show you your options?

Ahhh...I am happy just remembering. From there, to a long doctor's appointment. Not so bad since the doctor's office has really good coffee.

Finally, a walk at around the Gateway Trail-head. There were lots of protective mama ducks today, but they were so fun to watch.

Date over, time to come home for dinner. I am calling these "Kroger Scallops" because I got the recipe off the back of a bag of Kroger brand scallops. It is super good. You never know where you are going to find a great new idea for a dish. 

Kroger Scallops
12 oz scallops
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tbsp white wine
1 tomato, chopped
salt, pepper and parsley to taste
spray butter

1. In a medium bowl, combine scallops, lemon juice, wine, and tomato. Stir gently to combine. Place in the fridge to marinate for 2-4 hours.
2. Line an oven safe skillet with aluminum foil. Place scallop mixture on foil. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and parsley to taste. Spray with 10 sprays of butter.
3. Bake at 350F for apx 9 minutes, until cooked through.
4. Yields 2, 4 point servings

What a nice day it was. Since this post is all about my husband, it seems appropriate to end it with a song that brings him to mind. I hope your day was lovely and that your tomorrow is full of good food and love. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Random Recipe Challenge - Cappuccino Mousse - 6 points

I always have so much fun with the Random Recipe challenge, hosted by Dom at Belleau Kitchen. Somehow, it always ends up being a bit of a trip. This month's challenge was to flip to a random page in your most recently gifted cookbook and make the recipe thereon.

I am lucky that the book my husband gave me a few weeks ago is a real gem.

The All New Good Housekeeping Cook Book is not exactly new; it was published in 2001. Stone picked up a copy, along with two other great cookbooks, at our favorite used bookstore (you can imagine that being married to a librarian means often being surprised with new books). This is the kind of "Bible" cookbook that you could cook from for the rest of your life and be quite happy. It is my new "go-to" cookbook for fail safe recipes.

I was completely thrilled when the recipe I opened to was "Cappuccino Mousse". It is difficult to explain how much I love and depend upon coffee. I guess the word would be addict.

My relationship with coffee started at an early age. My mother and father used to give an endless number of dinner parties. After the meal, my mother would always go around with a tray displaying delicate cups filled with tempting smelling coffee to offer her guests. I wanted a cup so badly; they smelled like heaven and all of the adults seem to really enjoy them. When I was seven, my mother got rather tired of me begging for a cup and decided that her problem would be solved if she let me have some. After all, what seven year old likes coffee? I did. I loved it. From that point on, coffee was a special treat. (Until college, when it became a complete necessity.)

I had a great time making this recipe. It was very easy to follow and I always find whipping cream fun to cook with. The coffee brandy that I used for the liqueur smelled divine and will find itself into many a cocktail later, I am sure. The only downside was waiting overnight for the mousse to set.

Cappuccino Mousse
1 envelope plus 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
1/3 plus 1/2 cup milk
1 cup espresso or very strong brewed coffee
1/2 cup plus 1 tsp sugar
2 tbsp coffee-flavored liqueur
1 1/3 cups heavy or whipping cream
pinch ground cinnamon

1. In a small saucepan, evenly sprinkle gelatin over 1/3 cup milk; let stand 5 minutes. Stir in coffee. Place over low heat, stirring frequently, 2 to 3 minutes, until gelatin is dissolved. Remove from heat; add 1/2 cup sugar, stirring until dissolved. Stir in remaining 1/2 cup milk and liqueur. Transfer to large bowl.
2. Place bowl in a larger bowl of ice water. With rubber spatula, stir just until mixture mounds slightly when dropped from spoon, about 15 minutes. Remove from water bath.
3. In a medium mixing bowl, whip 1 cup cream on medium speed until soft peaks form. Fold 1/3 of cream into coffee mixture until well blended. Gently fold in beaten cream. Spoon mixture into 8 coffee cups or 6 oz custard cups. Cover and refrigerate until set, 4 hours or up to overnight.
4. Just before serving, in a small bowl, beat remaining 1/3 cup cream, remaining 1 tsp sugar, and cinnamon until stiff peaks form. To serve, spoon dollop of whipped cream into each mousse.
5. Yields 8, 6 point servings
The recipe calls for 8 coffee or custard cups. I don't have eight matching anything in my kitchen, so I used a variety of containers.

The taste was amazing. It had the flavor of a really good latte, with a consistency as light as a cloud. The danger is that it is so light that you are tempted to have seconds....and thirds, which would be quite bad for the waistline.

I am so glad that I took this challenge. This recipe was great as a breakfast dish and would be lovely for a dinner dessert as well. It will definitely become part of my regular rotation. My love affair with coffee goes on. Love affair plus coffee - that makes me think of those dramatic Gold Blend commercials that I used to see on tapes people sent from America. Does anyone else remember these?

Thank you, Dom, for another adventure in cooking.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Grated Egg Curry - 1 point

In May, I bookmarked a recipe from Sobha at Good Food. One of my favorite dishes is egg curry; I grew up eating a version made with whole, boiled eggs. Sobha's version, using grated eggs, greatly intrigued me.  I made it for dinner today, and was pleased to find that it is every bit as delicious as I anticipated. Egg is a beautiful texture for curry, and Sobha's blend of spices is spot-on perfect.

The only change I made to the dish was to use 6 egg whites instead of 3 eggs - this was simply to cut down on fat content and, thus, lower the WW points of the dish. This recipe with the egg white substitution (click here for the original) yields 3, 1 point servings.

A bit of news about a change to my blog. You know that I am a teacher and my husband is a librarian. You also know that teachers and librarians are not paid exorbitant salaries and that we are attempting to pay off some debt (car loan) while also paying Stone's grad school tuition (ouch). The university announced that they are extorting us raising that tuition quite a bit. In order to stay afloat in Angela/Stone household (Stanglea or Anone - we have not decided), we have to tighten our belts. Therefor, I am going to stop using Weight Watchers and start using the free tools on I have a few recipes left for which I have already calculated points (and almost 150 already posted here). However, soon I will not be posting point values anymore. I will try to give as much nutritional information as possible so that those on Weight Watchers can calculate their own points. 

Now, I am off to visit my friend the tread mill as I succumbed to a truly irresistible temptation - chocolate hazelnut cookies.  I know you don't blame me, but my thighs do.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Cream Cheese Frosting - 5 points

In case you missed it when I posted them the first time, those are my Strawberry Brownie Bonbons. They are awesome.  In fact, my fab friend Lisa asked me to make some for her birthday. I was happy to oblige. I decided, since she is a fab friend, that I would even go the extra mile of making the cream cheese frosting instead of using the stuff from a can. As with most things, the homemade version tastes way better than the store bought. (If you use this frosting recipe in your bonbons, please remember that a can of frosting contains only 16 oz of frosting. I didn't remember this and had to throw a whole batch of bonbons in the trash and start over.)
Cream Cheese Frosting from Betty Crocker's New Cookbook
1 pkg (8 oz) cream cheese, softened
1/4 cup stick butter, softened
2 tsp milk
1 tsp vanilla
4 cups powdered sugar

1. In a large bowl, beat cream cheese, margarine, milk, and vanilla in a medium bowl with electric mixer on low speed until smooth.
2. Slowly add powdered sugar while beating with mixer on low speed. Continue to beat until smooth.
3. Refrigerate unused portions.
4. 5 points per serving

I cannot think of a witty way to introduce my menu. If you have a suggestion, please offer it (extra points for puns and sarcasm).

guest chicken
bok choy

beefalo burgers

maple glazed salmon

pasta with scallops, zucchini, and tomatoes

nkhwani relish
scrambled eggs

taco soup

speedy spicy skillet supper

Now I am off to view your lovely blogs. If I leave a comment that sounds a bit odd, it is because I have been on the treadmill for so long today that my brain has turned to mush. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

A Random Post Including Wild Flours, No Bake Chocolate Chews (3 points), and Elmo

I am so proud of myself for getting up extra early to make sure that I could get to the Farmer's Market and back before taking my nephew on a "date". Look at my great haul - bok choy, local honey, ground beefalo, two dozen farm fresh eggs, and a loaf of the best whole wheat bread money can buy. There were so many beautiful things at the market today - with more money and more time I could have really cleaned up.

There are some great vendors at the Farmer's Market, and one of my favorites is Wild Flours (click on the name to see their blog, with a mouth watering list of available products). We tried their cinnamon rolls two weeks ago and were blown away.

Look at that list of ingredients! Nothing I have to pronounce syllable by syllable. All good stuff. We were on a family jaunt that day and my nephew completely loved his Wild Flours (click to see their Facebook page) muffin.

The whole wheat bread was one of the reasons I got up so early this morning. I knew that I could not wait another week for a loaf. It is super-duper good. If you live in this area, this would be my top recommendation for Saturday morning breakfast, hands down: Wild Flours at the Farmer's Market on the square.

The "date" with my nephew was a I Am the Best Aunt Ever trip to see Elmo Live. Floor seats, baby. How cool am I?

We had lunch at Panera Bread (the closest place to eat that is not on insane-on-Saturday Broadway) and Simon was fascinated with the building across the street.

After dropping off Simon and taking a major power nap, I whipped up some no bake cookies for my overworked grad student hubby.

I have posted a healthy version of these superb, chewy, chocolatey, sinfully easy cookies before. This is the old-school, full on butter version that I grew up on. 

No Bake Chocolate Chews from In the Kitchen with the AWA
4 tbsp cocoa
2 cups sugar
1/2 cup lowfat milk
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter
1 tsp vanilla
pinch of salt
3 cups rolled oats

1. Combine first four ingredients in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly,  for one minute. Remove from the stove and then add the next three ingredients.
2. After the peanut butter is melted, add the oats. Beat until the mixture starts to set (just a few minutes). Spoon out on waxed paper by teaspoonful and let cool.
3. Yields 39, 3 point servings

These poor things never get cooled before Stone steals one.

Wow! That was a long post. I could go on because I really wanted to share my weekly menu. But, I had better stop it - you never know what Bob Newhart might do to me otherwise.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Beef and Cabbage Casserole - 5 points

This recipe - slightly adapted from Fix it and Forget it for Entertaining - is not one that I thought I would be sharing on my blog. I made it for two reasons - I needed to use a head of cabbage and I wanted to use my crock pot. I didn't have high expectations. Well - slap my face and call me Sally - this stuff is delicious. It is so delicious that I just got off the treadmill because I decided it was worth jogging to get to have a second helping. That's right. This is so good I will jog for it. Nuff said.

Beef and Cabbage Casserole
1 medium onion, chopped
3 tbsp butter or margarine
1 lb ground beef
1/2 to 3/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 small head cabbage, shredded
1 can condensed tomato soup

1. Melt butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Saute onion in butter.
2. Add ground beef to onions and cook, stirring frequently, until beef is browned. Season with salt and pepper.
3. Layer half of cabbage in slow cooker, followed by half of meat mixture. Repeat layers.
4. Pour soup over top of cabbage and beef. Cover and cook on low for 4 - 6 hours.
5. Yields 8, 5 point servings

It seems forever ago that I picked a random song for you on a Friday night. Since I have been sharing the soundtrack of my life with you this week, it may seem superfluous to  have my DJ pick a random song from my Zen for you tonight. Yet, I love the idea of just finding something at random - just getting a bit of unexpected, unpredictable musical inspiration. Tonight I got a great song for you. I love the artist Beck  - one of his songs was playing in the background the first time I danced with my husband. Here is "Bottle of Blues".

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Lentil Soup - 3 points

Hearty, hot soup in the summer? Yes. I know that it isn't popular with some people, but to me soup is a year round food. I like this one because it uses so many great items that are available at the Farmers Market- not just the veggies and herbs but also the molasses. If you have not had molasses that was grown and pressed locally, you have not really had molasses. The taste difference is monumental.

Lentil Soup
1 lb dried lentils
1/2 cup brown rice
1 cup carrots, chopped
1 cup green pepper, chopped
1 cup onion, chopped
1 cup tomato paste
1 cup celery, chopped
1 tbsp molasses
1 1/2 tsp salt
1 dried bay leaf
1/2 tsp sage
1/2 tsp thyme
2 cloves garlic, minced

1. Wash and sort lentils. Place in large pot; cover with water by 2 to 3 inches. Bring to a boil and cover. Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.
2. Add brown rice and simmer for 30 minutes. Add remaining ingredients save lemon juice and simmer for another 15 minutes. Add lemon juice just before serving.
3. Yields 12, 3 point servings

I have been taking my nephew with me to VBS this week. He has been singing part of a song in the car. It has been driving me nuts because it is a song that I know, but I just couldn't think if it. Finally, today, I Googled the phrase he kept repeating - "bam ba lam" and up popped a thousand links for "Black Betty". Of course! Shockingly, my husband, who reads Rolling Stone cover to cover and has seen just about everyone you can think of in concert- had never heard this song. The original was by Lead Belly, but I love the 70's fashion in this Ram Jam version.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars - 4 points

Do you listen when people say things like, "I don't want a cake for my birthday." I do. I am such a good friend. When my lovely chum said she didn't not want a cake for her 29th birthday, I did not make her a cake. I made her oatmeal chocolate chip bars instead - and decorated them with a bit of frosting and candles. I thought this was so nice of me because I completely abode by her moratorium against cake.  She didn't seem to see the brilliance of my plan and was rather miffed with me. Oh, well, perhaps next year I will try cookies. Maybe that will go over better. (Everyone else present seemed quite happy and loved the bars; one guy especially, because he had second and third helpings and took another home).
Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Bars
1 cup flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 cups old fashioned oats
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup chopped nuts
1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup butter, softened
4 eggs, beaten

1. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients save white and brown sugar.
2. In a large bowl, beat the butter, sugar, and eggs with an electric mixer until well combined. Add the dry ingredients an stir until well blended. Spread batter into a lightly greased 9x11" pan.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
4. Yields 24, 4 point servings

I am mentally tired from another day of Vacation Bible School, but I am not physically tired. I know I need to get to bed or I will be knackered tomorrow when I am meant to be herding small people from place to place. Perhaps I need my own celebrity lullaby to send me off to sleep.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Coked Chicken - 4 points

I was so happy to find this in a German bakery in Helen, Georgia.

You may be thinking, "What makes you happy about powdered soup?" To answer that question, I would have to write you quite an epistle - complete with an ode to oxtail soup and a sonnet in praise of cream of asparagus. To spare you that, I will simply say that I grew up on powdered soups and miss them terribly now that I live in the US where Knorr doesn't seem to have much of a market.

I bought this soup powder for a very specific reason - to make Coked chicken. If you have wondered where my obsession with carbonated cooking began, it was with this recipe. My mother made this dish often for guests, sometimes using chicken and sometimes using beef. The guests  would inevitably praise it, take second helpings, and then ask my mother for the recipe. She would sigh, look at them gravely and say, "It is very complicated and takes forever!" Eyes wide, they would say, "Really? Well, how do you do it?" My mother's stoic face would break into a grin and she would say merrily, "Just kidding. It's coke and tomato soup." They never believed her.

Coked Chicken
8 chicken thighs, skinless
1 pkt cream of tomato soup
12 oz Coca Cola (I recommend buying Coke made with cane sugar not hfcs)

1. Empty tomato soup package into a shallow dish. Dredge each thigh in the soup mixture, turning to coat. Place thighs in a shallow baking dish.
2. Pour Coke over the thighs. Place dish in a 350F oven for 30 minutes or until cooked through.
3. Yields 8, 4 point servings

I love sharing my mother's recipes. She is a fantastic woman, and I was reminded of her today during VBS. My mother is wonderful with children - full of energy, ready to play. Today, during music time, the children were singing their booty shaking songs and having fun. Do you know what the vast majority grown ups were doing? They were talking or they were standing against the wall. They were not shaking it. Well, I was! I was having a grand time, and I didn't care a flip if people thought it was silly for me to get out there and dance with the kids. It was fun - it was what my mom would have done. And, tomorrow, when all of those people are still up against the wall - what will I be doing? That's right. I'll be dancing.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Butterscotch Brownies - 3 points

I am sooooo tired tonight, I didn't even manage to get a worthy picture of this delicious dessert bar for you. Please do not judge this amazing, rich, buttery treat by its poor photo. I crave butterscotch brownies - or blondies, as they are sometimes called - and the addition of coconut and pecans is like adding gasoline to the fire of my butterscotch brownie passion. 

Butterscotch Brownies
1/2 cup flaked coconut
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1 3/4 cups brown sugar
2 cups flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
3/4 cup butter, softened
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
2 tsp vanilla

1. In a medium bowl, mix dry ingredients. In a large bowl, cream the butter, eggs, and vanilla using an electric mixer on medium speed.
2. Add dry ingredients to the large blow, stirring until mixture is well blended.
3. Spread the batter into a lightly greased 9x11" cake pan. Bake at 375F for 25-30 minutes.
4. Yields 24, 3 point servings

Why am I so tired, you may be thinking (if your mind has not gone off into the lovely land of daydreaming about baked goods)? I lost my mind and volunteered to teach Vacation Bible School this week. Even though I am tired, it is a good tired:) I love the VBS theme - Shake It Up Cafe - I mean, it's all about food. How could I not love that? And I love the dances that go with the songs - there is a whole lot of shaking going on.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Spicy Lentils - 3 points

Happy Father's Day! I hope that all of the great dads out there are enjoying a fantastic day and all of those lucky enough to have a great dad are celebrating him. I am one of the lucky ones who has an amazing father who came to every school event, read me stories, tried all of my experimental recipes, encouraged me to think for myself, and - when I was in high school - played cards with me almost every night before dinner. My dad loves Indian food - especially tandoori chicken - so here is a recipe is a spicy recipe in his honor.

Spicy Lentils - Betty Crocker's New Cookbook
3 cups water
3/4 dried split peas
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp cumin
1 small onion, finely chopped

1. Heat water and peas to boiling in a large saucepan. Boil, uncovered, for 2 minutes. Reduce heat to low; simmer 25 minutes or until peas are tender.
2. Spray a skillet with nonstick cooking spray. Add onions and spices to the skillet, stirring occasionally until onions are tender. Stir in peas until evenly coated.
3. Yields 4, 3 point servings

There are many outstanding fathers, uncles, brothers, grandfathers, step-fathers, and friends I know who are working hard to be examples to the young people in their lives. I am very thankful for all of them and wish them a great day.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Minty Yogurt Chicken - 4 points

It is a bit gloomy outside today, not at all like summer. The sky was so black this morning that I fully expected tornado sirens to begin blasting across town. This is the rare kind of summer day when a hot lunch sounds good. Still, I want those light summer flavors like mint and lemon. Solution: minty yogurt chicken, the perfect dish for a rainy summer day. I love the way the honey caramelizes along the edges of each juicy thigh, and the strong Middle Eastern flavor of the dredgings in the bottom of the pan. I got out a spoon and scraped the pan clean. I did. I couldn't help myself. It's that good.  

Minty Yogurt Chicken
8 skinless chicken thighs
1 tbsp honey
2 tsp lemon juice
2 tbsp plain yogurt
4 tsp dried mint
salt and pepper to taste

1. Slash the chicken at intervals with a knife. Mix the lemon juice, honey, yogurt, and seasonings. Spoon the marinade over chicken and leave for thirty minutes.
2. Line a grill pan with foil. Place chicken in pan and pour over any remaining marinade. Cook at 350 for 25 minutes or chicken is cooked through and golden brown.
3. Yeilds 8, 4 point servings

The puppy Rufus Wainwright has returned to his rightful home. Perhaps that explains the gloomy day.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hummus - 4 points

I have a headache. In fact, I have had a headache for four days. It is an insidious migraine that is refusing to go away no matter how much healing, love, and drug therapy I throw at it. Still, there is always a bright side. First, I am reminded to fully enjoy the days when my head does not hurt. Second, I get to be proud of myself that I pocketed away a recipe to show you on a day like today. A couple of weeks ago I made hummus for a social function. It is one of my favorite, easy appetizers.

1 3/4 cups dried chick peas
3 3/4 cups water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic
1/4 cup water
1/2 tsp salt
ground paprika to garnish

1. Soak chick peas in water for 4 hours, up to overnight. Drain chick peas, place in a pan with 3 3/4 cups water and bring to a boil. Simmer, uncovered for one hour; drain.
2. Place chick peas, lemon juice, oil, garlic, 1/4 cup water, and salt in a food processor and pulse at 30 second intervals until smooth. Sprinkle with paprika to serve.
3. 4 points per 1/4 cup serving

I am wishing I had some hummus right now, as hummus on toast would be a lovely, quick dinner on a day when I do not feel enthusiastic about cooking.

Now, to add to my interesting day, there is a puppy who has taken up residence in my backyard. I have named him Rufus Wainwright. I suppose I should go find out to whom he belongs.... He is awfully cute, and he seems to like it here. Maybe his owner will be angry with him for running away and will want me to keep him. I mean, I did already give him an awesome name.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Roasted Eggplant Soup - 0 Points

Back home and back in the kitchen! 'Tis the season for fresh vegetables. Nothing says Farmer's Market to me like a big pot of soup filling the kitchen with the earthy scents of summer. 

Roasted Eggplant Soup, adapted from Homemade Soups by Sunset Books
1 large eggplant
1 small onion
3 cups water
3 cubes chicken stock
2 tbs lemon
salt and pepper
1 tbs chipotle sauce

1. Place eggplant and unpeeled onion in a brownie sized baking pan. Bake in a 400F oven until vegetables are very tender (about 75 minutes). Let cool, then peel.
2. Blend vegetables, a portion at a time, in a food processor or blender until smooth. Transfer vegetable mixture to a 2 to 3-quart pan and blend in stock. Bring to boil over high heat; add lemon juice, chipotle sauce and season to taste with salt and pepper.
3. Garnish with chipotle sauce.
4. Yields 10, 0 point servings

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Round Springs and Family Reunion

This will be my last vacation post and then it will be back to normal.

My mom used to tell me a story when I was little. There was a man who was driving his team of horses through the Ozark mountains. It was dark and shadowy along the road and something spooked the horses, causing them to run wildly down the road. Unable to regain control, the driver desperately jumped from the wagon just before it careened over a cliff and into a deep, round spring. The man returned to the scene the next morning and found no sign of his wagon or horses in the spring.  For days after he continued to return, but no fragment of wagon or hint of horse ever appeared. It wasn't until he came at night that he discovered his team - the ghostly image of them - perpetually repeating their desperate, deathly plunge. Today the spring is in a National park and the road is no longer open to traffic. However, if you should chose to jump the fence and venture to the moonlit spring, you too may be haunted by the lost wagon team.

That is legend. The truth is the Round Spring is a gorgeous spring that does in fact have a road running above it along the edge of a cliff. The spring is probably very deep, but scuba divers have never been able to find the bottom because the current is too strong.

One of my favorite things about visiting the spring is that you can usually see beaver and otters swimming in the spring and the stream that runs off it. No such luck this time, the unusual water activity we have had this year has caused the current to speed up and increased the amount of water flora.

The last part of my trip was my family reunion. Family reunions are high calorie fests - occasions for everyone to show off his/her best dish. And my family can cook for real!  Like Mom's barbecue pork...

First Cousin once removed chicken and dumplings...

Other FCOR's chess squares...

Second cousin's strawberry pie that would not focus for the life of me...

Aunt's trifle, cousin's pie, FCOR's cheese cake, Mom's lemon cake, and assorted others...

My hashbrown casserole...

And, finally, my plate...the last shot before my camera died. Salad, chicken and dumplings, lasagna, bbq pork, and hashbrown casserole.

And, yes, I did get some questions about why I was taking pictures of the food. I figured every family needs some crazies - I don't mind being the cousin who takes pictures of food :)