Monthly Archives: March 2011

Happy St. Patrick’s Day! (Or, how do I get my kid to sit still?)

The Munchkin & I want to wish you a Happy St. Patrick’s Day! Wait, let me get her to stop fiddling with the necklaces.

Look at the camera!

Now she’s looking at the camera… Dare I try to get her to smile? Or maybe even sit up?

Wait! Put the hat back on!

I don’t know why I bother… Happy St. Patrick’s Day anyway!

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Filed under Adventures in Mommydom, Holidays

My latest culinary triumph: bone-in chicken.

First thing’s first. How do you like the new layout? I think it’s much cleaner, & easier to find what you’re looking for.

Second: have you filled out your bracket yet? The tournament starts tomorrow! Go Cougs!

Now for the juicy stuff. And I do mean that literally. I have a confession to make: bone-in chicken intimidates me. I’ve roasted 3 Thanksgiving turkeys, but never in my life had I roasted a chicken or made anything that didn’t use my old standby: boneless, skinless chicken breasts. Those other recipes just seemed to take so much more effort & worrying! Not to mention my beef (ha!) with paying per pound for bone when I buy meat & poultry.

Well, all that changed last Thursday, thanks to Williams-Sonoma’s The New Slow Cooker cookbook. Seriously, every single recipe in here looks amazing, & everything I’ve made so far tastes amazing. One of the great things about this cookbook is that each recipe gives you a way to “Add Freshness With…” so you don’t get that heavy, Crock-Pot taste. I could definitely see myself using this cookbook into the summer (especially since we can’t grill in our apartment complex!) to keep the oven off & the apartment cool.

Herbed Chicken with Zesty Potato Salad

This recipe looks involved, so I’m going to give you the bottom line first so you know it’s totally worth the effort & extra ingredients.

The verdict: Husband loved it. I loved it. The Munchkin didn’t like the dressing on the potatoes, so I had to rinse them off for her. She did eat the chicken with some bribing & bargaining — considering the fact that she’s apparently a teenager now & has all but declared vegetarianism, I consider that a win. While it did take more planning & a little more prep time than most of the other dishes I make, the prep work was spread throughout the day, so the before-dinner rush never happened! It was fabulous! This is definitely the perfect stay-at-home-mom recipe. I think I’ll even make the potato salad by itself because the dressing was so delicious!

I made only a half recipe, which made 4 chicken thighs & more than enough potato salad, but I’m posting the full recipe from the cookbook. I also subbed some of the ingredients (dried herbs for fresh, broth for white wine, etc.) to include more of what I had on hand, so I’m posting how I made it, with the cookbook’s recommendations in parentheses.

  • 3 lbs. skin-on, bone-in chicken thighs, trimmed of excess fat
  • Salt & pepper
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 1/2 yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, smashed
  • 1 heaping tsp. dried thyme (2 sprigs fresh)
  • 1 heaping tsp. dried oregano (2 sprigs fresh)
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2/3 cup low-sodium chicken broth (1/3 cup dry white wine, 1/3 cup broth)
  • 2 tsp. red wine vinegar (white wine vinegar)
  1. Pat thighs dry & season generously on both sides with salt & pepper.
  2. Warm the oil in a large, heavy frying pan over medium-high heat. Add the chicken, skin side down, and sear until golden brown, about 4 minutes. (You may need to work in batches to avoid overcrowding, but with the size of my pan & only making 4 thighs, I didn’t need to.) Don’t turn them over.
  3. Remove to a plate covered in paper towels to drain excess oil, then transfer to the bottom of your slow cooker.
  4. Add onion, garlic, & herbs to the same pan & saute on medium-high a few minutes, until onions just start to color. Pour in the broth (& wine if you’re using it) & vinegar, & deglaze the pan by using your wooden spoon to scrape any of the browned bits off the bottom of the pan.
  5. Add in 1/2 tsp. salt & a generous amount of pepper, & stir. Then pour over the chicken.
  6. Cover & cook on low for 4 hours. The chicken will be tender & falling off the bone.

For the potato salad:

  • 20 small red potatoes, quartered
  • 2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1/2 Tbsp. dried oregano (1 Tbsp. fresh — this is the one time I really wish I did have fresh; it would have made it!)
  • 3-4 fl. oz. Shallot Vinaigrette, below

For the Shallot Vinaigrette:

  • 1 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 3 Tbsp. red wine viegar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • a few generous shakes (or grinds, if you’re lucky enough) pepper
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  1. About 10-15 minutes before serving the chicken, place the potatoes in a large saucepan in enough salted water to cover, & bring to a gentle boil over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, until just tender, 8 minutes (or less — mine were a little too tender).
  2. While they’re boiling, whisk together all of the Shallot Vinaigrette ingredients except the oil. Whisk in the oil until emulsified. It smells as amazing as it looks!
  3. Drain potatoes & transfer to a serving bowl. Toss with some of the Shallot Vinaigrette while still hot, until lightly coated. (Taste to check; you can always add more if it’s not enough, but, as tasty as it is, too much might overwhelm the herbs on the chicken.) Let cool slightly (you could choose now to halve your cherry tomatoes), then add your cherry tomatoes & fresh oregano, & toss to coat.
  4. Plate your chicken thighs. Remove & discard the bay leaves & fresh herb sprigs, if you used them. (The cookbook says to let the braising liquid stand with the slow cooker on “off,” & skim the fat. I didn’t do this & we lived through it.) Drizzle thighs with some of the braising liquid, & mound the salad on top of or next to the chicken.
  5. Enjoy right away!

So there you go! I have triumphed over the bone-in chicken thigh with the help of my slow cooker.

Is there anything you love but have been too intimidated to make? What is it?

works for me wednesday at we are that family

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Back to St. Patty’s Day: Magic Zucchini Coins.

I hope everyone enjoyed Pi Day yesterday! Momo posted the most delicious-looking peanut butter pie I’ve ever seen, & apparently the people at WordPress agreed, because they featured it on Freshly Pressed. So thanks, WordPress! & thanks, Momo! (I should have her post more often!)

So now what do I post, after a day like that?

The best answer I could come up with was: what I was going to post today anyway.

These Magic Zucchini Coins (the more often I type “zucchini,” the more wrong it looks to me…), which I got from the Sesame Street cookbook, are perfect for St. Patrick’s Day! They’re green, they turn golden in the oven, & they’re coins! Now all we need is a rainbow to put them under. (Dang, shoulda thought of that when I was setting up the shot…) They’re also quick, easy, & perfect for little kitchen helpers!

  1. Slice some small zucchini or yellow summer squash (or a combo) into 1/4-inch-thick slices. A half a zucchini was enough for The Munchkin & me because she’s not wild about the stuff. If the zucchini (looks wronger & wronger…) is ripe enough & your kitchen helper is old enough, the Sesame Street cookbook recommends letting them slice it with a plastic knife.
  2. Boil or steam until just tender, 3-5 minutes. (We boiled to save dishes, but steaming will preserve more nutrients.) Drain & set aside to cool slightly.
  3. Meanwhile, preheat your broiler (on “high,” if yours has more than one setting).
  4. Arrange zucchini in a single layer on a foil-covered baking sheet. Sprinkle with a dash of salt & a generous amount of parmesan cheese. (Kitchen helpers will love assisting with this too!)
  5. Broil a couple minutes until the parmesan turns golden-brown.
  6. Remove the “coins” from the foil & admire the modern art you just created:
  7. Then let your little leprechaun devour this healthy veggie side with his shamrock pizza or rainbow wraps!

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Happy Pi Day!

Happy 3.14, fellow nerds! I learned this year that today is also Albert Einstein’s birthday. It’s a Pi Day miracle! For all you nerds & non-nerds alike, here’s another tasty post from my good friend Momo. Tell me I’m not the only one drooling over these photos!

Even though I know Catherine LOVES this holiday, she was nice enough to let me share a recipe for Pi day. So here is a delicious Peanut Butter 3.14 to celebrate this fun holiday!

This is a recipe I tweaked from the New Better Homes and Gardens Cookbook to resemble the amazing Peanut Butter Torte they used to serve at the Skyroom when Lisa and I worked there.


Start with a graham cracker pie crust, either purchased, or even better, this recipe made in a 9″ springform pan:

1/3 cup butter

¼ cup sugar

1 ¼ cups finely crushed graham crackers

Melt butter, stir in sugar. Add crushed crackers, toss to mix well. Spread evenly into a 9 inch springform pan (a pie pan will also work). Press onto bottom and sides to form an even crust.  Bake in a 375 degree oven for 4-5 minutes or until edge is slightly browned, and cool on wire rack before filling.

Then mix up this creamy filling and try not to eat it all out of the bowl:

One 8-ounce package cream cheese, softened

¾ cup peanut butter

1 cup sifted powdered sugar

2 tablespoons milk

1 teaspoon vanilla

1 cup whipping cream

2 tablespoons sifted powdered sugar

Chill a medium mixing bowl and beaters (I actually use my immersion blender).

For filling, beat cream cheese and peanut butter until smooth. Add the 1 cup powdered sugar, 2 tablespoons milk, and 1 teaspoon vanilla; beat until combined.

In the chilled mixing bowl beat whipping cream and the 2 tablespoons powdered sugar until soft peaks form (this happens pretty quickly).

Gently fold about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the peanut butter mixture. Fold remaining whipped cream into peanut butter mixture. Spoon into graham cracker crust.

Cover and chill about two hours or until set.

For a wonderful chocolate topping:

Melt ¾ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips and a little milk (1 to 2 Tablespoons).  Spread over the top of the chilled pie and sprinkle with lightly salted, chopped peanuts.  Let chill until set.

Eat until you’re sick, or invite your friends!  They will love you!

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Filed under Holidays, Posted by Momo, Recipes

Token “Mommy Blog” post.

Every mom thinks they have the cutest kids in the world. But I will tell you, in all honesty, that I have that one wrapped up.

Just listen to how she says the word “monkey,” or watch how she scrunches up her eyes & nose to say “cheese” for the camera, or chuckle at how she runs everywhere are on her tiptoes, or let her hold so tight to your index finger as you walk through the subway together.

Yep, my Munchkin is the cutest in the land.

Happy Saturday, everyone! I hope you & your Munchkins have great plans for today! Ours involve a “choo-choo,” cupcakes (Magnolia!!!), a visit from old friends, & Grimaldi’s pizza. It’s going to be a great afternoon! Oh, & watching some Cougar basketball tonight! Go Cougs!

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St. Patty’s Day dinner: I {shamrock} pizza.

Missive alert…

I’m going to admit something to you: I’m kind of embarrassed to post this next idea. I bought the dough for this pizza two days before I was going to be able to make it, so when I set about kneading & working the dough, it was about as pliable & stretchable as the Play Doh they only recently retired in our church’s Nursery. As a result, the finished pizza doesn’t look pretty. Like, REALLY not pretty. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

My first thought was to just delete the pictures altogether; this doesn’t belong on the World Wide Web alongside all of these professional-quality photographs of delicious, beautiful food, does it? But then I was emboldened by a great post by the Reluctant Entertainer that I’d read last week. In it, Sandy relates a conversation she had with a food blogger who “does it all” by sending her kids to school, cooking & taking pictures in the afternoon, then shoving her beautiful food in the fridge, where it might get eaten later… or it might get tossed out.

Is this what our lives have come to? Not mine. For one thing, I don’t have the money to toss food out!

I’m not a food photographer, professional party planner, or classically trained chef. I’m just a mom with a rambunctious toddler, a love of cooking, a few ideas in my head, & a grand total of 10 square feet of natural light (& that for only about 3-4 hours on a sunny day… hence the exceedingly unflattering use of the flash for most everything). When I started this blog, it was to share my “just-mom” ideas with other “just-moms” out there. The pictures aren’t great. The food doesn’t look like it belongs in a magazine. But the ideas are there for you to share with love with your families, just as I do with mine.

Okay, disclaimer/missive over. (Would I refer to that as a dis-missive?)

Now for the fun stuff: How to turn a bell pepper into 4-leaf clovers for your St. Patrick’s Day pizza.

You probably already know about our love affair with pizza. So it should be no surprise that I came up with an excuse to eat it on yet another holiday. I honestly can’t remember how this idea came about — whether I read it somewhere or just had an epiphany — but regardless, it worked a lot better the first time I tried it, with a Papa Murphy’s pizza with a mercifully large, flat crust. So there you go, for what that’s worth.

When you go to the grocery store, look for a green bell pepper with 4 relatively equal-sized lobes:

Cut 1/4-inch slices across the width of the pepper from the bottom up, cutting out any of the seedy core as you come to it. These are your “shamrocks.” When you get close to the top, just cut short slices around the core. These will be your “stems.”

Now for the pizza part: Preheat your oven & pizza stone to 450. Then roll out your crust on your parchment paper (with a little flour if it needs it) & top it with the sauce & any other non-shamrock toppings you’re planning on using.

Then cover those with your cheese. (The store was out of regular shredded, so I had to go with finely shredded. Can someone give me a concrete reason they even created this stuff? It just gets everywhere except where you want it to stay!)

Now arrange your shamrocks & stems however they’ll fit & look pretty. A larger-than-13-inch pizza will provide more breathing room, so people will have an easier time telling what it is.

Now bake it until the cheese is bubbly & the crust is golden-brown. Then enjoy!

What are you making for St. Patty’s Day dinner?

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St. Patty’s Day lunch: Green Rainbow Wraps.

First of all, I’m not Irish. I’m pretty much everything else that’s really really white except Irish. Plus we don’t drink. So if you’re looking for green beer or corned beef, sorry — this is the wrong place to be. I do, however, like finding fun ways to make our St. Patrick’s Day meals a little greener. So stick around!

Here’s an easy lunch idea: Green Rainbow Wraps.

Here’s what I used. You can add or change your ingredients as you see fit. For example, I hate raw tomatoes, so you don’t see any of those in there. Lettuce? We were out, so none of that in there either. The more sandwich toppings you can think of (& that your kids will eat), the more colorful your pinwheels will be!

  • Spinach tortillas
  • Mayonnaise
  • Chili or taco seasoning (I use this fabulous chili seasoning from W-S)
  • Colby-Jack cheese (I used the deli slices, but I think shredded could work great too)
  • Deli ham
  • Deli chicken
  1. Spread a tortilla with some mayo. Sprinkle it with some chili seasoning.
  2. Lay out your cheese, meats, & whatever else floats your boat, leaving about 1-2 inches on the right & left sides.
  3. Fold in the sides of your tortilla, then roll it from front to back.
  4. Hold the wrap tight, then use a sharp knife to slice it into 3/4-inch slices to make pinwheels.
  5. Serve with rainbow Terra chips.

Of course, The Munchkin just preferred to dismantle them & pull out the meat… That’s my girl!

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