Sunday, August 28, 2011

Wine, Music and Clean Hands

Justin says to Patrick, "Now before you begin to cook a good meal, you have to do three things. Pick your wine, pick your music and then wash your hands."

This picture looked delicious.

A month ago or so, Justin mentioned using this fall as the start to a new tradition of teaching the boys how to cook. We McBrayer ladies all know how blessed we are to have married such awesome cooks! Justin wanted to pass along the tradition.

We agreed that once a month was a good start. But holy cow, we are a week into school and it's the last weekend of the month already. So on Saturday morning, JP and Patrick perused through some cookbooks choosing some recipes that looked good. Patrick settled on none other than Seafood Primavera! (I am not complaining!) After a lesson on looking for things we already had in the pantry and compiling a list we were ready to go.

So we hoped on our bikes and rode down to the Farmer's Market and Albertson's to fetch the ingredients. It was fun to choose the freshest produce while listening to the music at the market and then to see JP schooling Patrick on where to find things in the grocery store.
He's getting pretty good with a cleaver and he still has all 10 fingers so far!

Grating cheese while listening to the "chill" mix on the ipod and sipping his "wine." Don't worry Nina and D, it's only coke!

Clipping fresh herbs from the AeroGarden.

Learning to saute.

Prepping the plates with shrimp and a basil garnish.

This afternoon, while Aeneas and I sat back sipping our wine and reading books, Patrick and Daddy cooked up the most delicious of meals. It was spectacular and most gourmet for the first try at REAL cooking for the little guy.

Setting the table.

Patrick's Pasta Primavera. And I'm thinking I may have him cook more like once a week in a few years.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Back to School

Justin's First Day of School

Patrick's First Day of School

As the summer slips away, I begin to get a bit anxious about managing the new schedule. Unlike the summer where you wake up and make your plans for the day on the fly, we actually set an alarm and the morning routine is planned by the minute. If something takes longer than it's allotted time, it throws the whole morning off. But luckily, all our stuff stagger starts so after one week we're up to Patrick in school. Next week we will add JP's school and dance. The following week we'll add Aeneas's school and piano, and the following week we'll be up to Devo and our regular hang out stuff with the students as well. It will be an exciting fall, but no doubt busy. Maybe I should start wearing a watch!

If you have first day of school pictures, tack them on to this post too or send it to me. I'll be sure to take one of Justin. G and Dooney should have one too!

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Redressed Chicken Salad

I don't buy chicken often but when I do it's typically for company and even then, I buy it whole and use every last scrap of it to make it worth while just like my great-grandmother did during the depression. A free range chicken here is about $12-14 so it makes sense to make use of as much of it as you can. With that being said, here's what we did with our feathered friend last night.

I quartered it, and boiled the breasts, the back and wings in water with some onion, black peppercorns and carrots. The thighs and legs, I put in a freezer bag to jerk on the grill another time.

I removed all the meat from the breasts, wings an back and chopped into 1/2" pieces. I boiled the broth another 20 min to reduce it some, chilled it, separated the broth from the fat and then froze for a yummy stew in the upcoming weeks.

The cubed chicken, I added to a bowl along with crisp steamed green beans cut to 1/2" pieces, slivered almonds, craisins, and shredded radishes.

I made a dressing from olive oil, wine vinegar, apricot jam and dijon mustard and tossed over the top. We served the salad on croissants with Arugala and Nina's famous baked tomatoes and it was delicious. It served 4 adults and 2 kids and we have the rest of the chicken in the freezer to contribute to two more meals down the road!

Come to find out, the recipe I used was something I scratched down on a note card forever ago, but after having Googled the recipe, I found that it came from Martha Stewart and I prepped it in a different way altogether. All that to say there are some other ways to serve this. So here is the link to the original recipe.

If you were to boil the chicken instead of sauteing it, and served it on something other than croissants, it actually makes for a pretty healthy dinner. Sorry I didn't manage a picture. I thought it might be awkward with company watching...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

When Camping Food Meets the Dinner Table

Why is it that food on a camping trip always tastes gourmet but when at home you would never think to put it on your shopping list unless you were stocking your pantry for the end days or something of the sort? I said goodbye to Ramen and canned chicken 10 years ago when I walked across the stage to receive my college diploma. However, the stuff still tastes good in the woods for some reason.

Well, you can leave it to our friends, The McAlvanys to break the rule on camping food. They somehow manage to cook things on camping trips that when made in the comfort of your own home taste every bit as delicious and not surprisingly, gourmet.

David stokes the fire at Mineral Creek while Dashel looks on.

Depending on where you are making it, this recipe goes by two different names.

Hearty Camping Grits OR Gourmet Dinner Grits
  • Cook grits as directed on container using half milk and half water for the liquid measurements.
  • Crack two eggs, whisk them in a bowl and drop into the thickened grits while stirring quickly.
  • Drop in a fistful of shredded cheese (cheddar, parmesean, etc.) and stir in completely.
  • Drop in a fist full of sliced green onions allowing them to cook for a minute or so.
That's it! It's so good, we're planning to have these next week for dinner except I think I'll add a few sauteed shrimp on top. Breakfast, dinner, home or the woods. You'll love it.

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

One pot meals

Wow. We really eat a lot of veggie dishes these days. During the summer, I hate to be over the stove and since we are without a grill, I have to figure ways out of the kitchen. So one pot meals is one way to go. Here is a recipe that I tore out of the Cooking Light magazine while sitting in the Dr.s office one day. It's delicious, easy and pretty good for you. The kids scarfed it. Even Aeneas, who doesn't care for peas cleaned his plate. Check it out.

Photo: Randy Mayor; Styling: Cindy Barr

  • 4 cups fat-free, less-sodium chicken broth
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic, divided
  • 1 cup uncooked Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups thinly sliced shiitake mushroom caps
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme, divided
  • 3/4 cup frozen green peas
  • 6 tablespoons grated fresh Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


  • 1. Bring broth to a simmer in a medium saucepan; keep warm over low heat.
  • 2. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 2 minutes. Add 1 teaspoon garlic; cook 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add rice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add wine; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring frequently. Stir in 1/2 cup broth; cook 2 minutes or until liquid is absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, 1/2 cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes).
  • 3. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms to pan; sauté 5 minutes or until tender. Add remaining 1/2 teaspoon garlic and 1 teaspoon thyme; sauté 1 minute. Set aside.
  • 4. Stir mushrooms, remaining 1 teaspoon thyme, peas, 1/4 cup cheese, and pepper into risotto; cook 3 minutes. Spoon about 1 1/4 cups risotto into each of 4 bowls; sprinkle each with 1 1/2 teaspoons cheese.