Archive for November, 2008

This year things are a little tight over at the iwantsecondsplease’s household. I’lI admit, I was never one to rise at the crack of dawn to scoop up bargains. I’m more of a “wait, how did it get to be this late in the holiday season, this is going to cost a fortune to ship…” holiday shopper. But, I have thought about shopping early. And, I’ve felt guilty when I didn’t. I think that counts for something. This year, however, the wallet is feeling a little light and the holiday gift list has been trimmed. So, while others rush out to kick off the holiday shopping season on the Friday after Thanksgiving, I will sit around eating leftover turkey sandwiches, without the guilt. But, in honor of Black Friday and my budget, I will raise a glass of Poor Man’s Black Velvet. Cheers to you and yours!

Poor Man’s Black Velvet

Fill a chilled beer glass halfway with hard cider, and then the rest of the way with stout, such as Guinness. Pour at a 45 degree angle allowing a bit of a head.

Relax and sip.

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It’s the day before Thanksgiving, the scariest day of the year to do your grocery shopping. Good luck out there people. Elbows out, claim your space or get run over by someone else’s shopping cart. In the past, I’ve managed to avoid Thanksgiving shopping by doing the unthinkable. That’s right, we did take out.  After years of frozen turkeys that wouldn’t thaw and fresh turkeys that were mysteriously frozen, we gave up. After years of eating Thanksgiving dinner at 10:00pm, feeling hungry, defeated, and exhausted, we decided there are some things we don’t want to do.

It was good for awhile.  The cost was actually comparable and we were able to get the whole kit and kaboodle from a lovely local restaurant.   But, as a couple who loves to cook, letting go of Thanksgiving has been a thorn in our collecitve side.  Also, the restaurant discontinued their Thanksgiving take-out meal. So, this year we’re back in the fray at the iwantsecondsplease household. We’re going to give it another go. But, we’re totally winging it. We bought traditional ingredients, turkey, sweet potatoes, etc, but I have no idea what we’ll do with them until the time comes and inspiration strikes. And if inspiration doesn’t strike?

I’ll go here:
pioneer woman cooks Thanksgiving

She’s got pictures of asparus that literally make me drool.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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pasta puttanesca
The economy has gotten so bad, according to ABC’s Nightline, that Nevada’s brothels are seeing a rise in applications. Things are getting so bad, a girl can’t even compete in the world’s oldest profession. While we contemplate the current state of affairs, join me in cooking up an easy dish of Pasta Puttanesca, also known as Harlot’s Pasta. Bold in flavor, it’s a tasty dish for someone on the run. Think Duece Bigelow in a hurry. There’s really no trick to it. So, let’s whip some up and hope for better days ahead.

Pasta Puttanesca

3 tablespoons olive oil
1 clove garlic pressed
1/2 onion chopped
1 can crushed tomatoes
1 can diced tomatoes
2 tablespoon capers
1/3 cup pitted black olives, coarsely chopped
4 anchovy fillets chopped
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1 teaspoon basil
1 teaspoon oregano
salt and pepper to taste
1 box pasta, your choice

Over medium heat, saute onions and garlic in olive oil in the onions are translucent. Add the anchovies and stir, allowing the anchovies to break apart. Add the remaining ingredients, and simmer, 5-10 minutes until warmed. Toss with pasta and serve.

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roller coaster cocktail

It’s not news to anyone that the economy has been downright scary these days.  With each passing day it becomes more difficult to just grin and bear it.   After years of watching the dow jones industrial average surge upward, the hurtling run downward leaves us all with our stomachs in our throats.  Oh, but wait, the dow is up again, no down, no up.  Oh no here comes the big one!  Might as well wave your hands over your head and scream at the top of your lungs.  Let’s hope and pray the ride brings back up again.  In the meantime, enjoy this timely cocktail, the Rollercoaster.  Now I’m not advising you to drown your  sorrows and your economic woes should not lead you to drink, but it is Friday! So enjoy this simple, tasty mix of grapefruit juice and amaretto almond liqueur.   It’ll help calm those fraying nerves.

Roller Coaster Cocktail

2 parts amaretto

3 parts grapefruit juice

Shake, pour over ice, serve.

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kale, fall greens goodness

kale, fall greens goodness

Fall seems to be flying by and eating locally in a northern climate doesn’t come easily.  Basically, all my fave veggies get here on a big truck.  But, there are some cold weather lovin’ veggies.  Some greens actually prefer cooler temperatures, (and thanks to greenhouses, local growers are able to extend growing seasons.)  So the other day, my husband, (who does most of our grocery shopping) picked up some kale at our local co-op.   Huge bunches and decently priced, because it’s in season.

I know what you’re thinking, kale is that purple-y leaved stuff you put in a window boxes or container gardens on the front step.  That’s right, kale is pretty.  But, it’s also highly nutritious and fairly yummy stuff.  There are a few secrets to cooking with kale.

tip #1. Don’t eat it raw.  Well you can, but it’s won’t taste good.

tip #2. Cook it down pretty well.  (See #1.)  It’s actually more nutritious if you cook it.   I usually blanche greens when I cook with them, meaning I steam them very briefly until wilt.  Fall greens, like collard greens and kale need a little more heat to break down their nutritional structure.  Cooking over medium-high heat, watch the color go to bright green and cook them over low heat 5-10 minutes longer, until the leaves shrink a bit and look limp.

tip# 3. Shop for bunches of kale with smaller leaves.  Larger leaves will have a bitter taste, so the smaller the leaf, the better the flavor.

So, you’re kids eat this stuff you’re asking me.  Yes, they do and they asked for more!  Which leads me to…

tip #4. Mix kale into main dish recipes.  The flavors of other recipes will blend well with the kale, increasing the yum factor.

Here’s a recipe my son decided should be named Pollato.   Who am I to argue with a child willing to eat kale?


pollato, kale with beef

1/2 onion chopped

1-2 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup red wine

1/4 cup orange juice

1/4-1/2 chicken broth

1 bunch kale chopped into approximately pieces slightly smaller than a deck of cards.  The size of the bunch will vary, so prepare enough to fill at least 2/3 of a large frying pan.  It will seem like a lot, but remember it shrinks.

1 teaspoon fennel seeds

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 bay leaves

1 lb. ground beef (bison also works well)

1 can diced tomatoes

1 clove garlic

shredded hard cheese such as parmesan, romano, manchego for topping

Start by sauteing the chooped onion in olive oil over medium heat until they become translucent.  Add red wine, orange juice, and chicken stock to create the sauce.  (It may be necessary to add the red wine when sauteing the onion to keep it from sticking.)  Add the kale, keeping the heat on medium, stir the kale in the pan until all the leaves have been coated with the broth.  When the kale turns bright green, lower the heat and add the fennel seeds, salt and pepper, and bayleaves.

In a separate pan, cook the ground beef with the clove of garlic.  I usually put the garlic through a press, but if you prefer a more subtle garlic flavor, cut the clove in half and rub it around the pan before you set it on the stove.  Cook the beef thoroughly and drain.  And the can of diced tomatoes, including the juice.  Stir until warmed.  Add the beef mixture to the kale mixture and top with shredded cheese.  Serve with bread, rice, polenta, etc.  Enjoy!

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As winter temps sneak their way into November (27 degrees today, yikes! Why, oh why, do I insist on living in Minnesota? )  the urge to bake rises.  It’s not so much that I love to bake, I just love any excuse to turn the oven on and make the kitchen a wee bit warmer.  So, today it’s bread.  I picked up this fab tip from steamy kitchen (love that name!)  It’s bread making secret #1: When baking bread in a standing mixer with a dough hook, mix for for 2 minutes, let rest for 7, knead some more (mix with the dough hook) for 3 minutes.

In all my forays into bread making, I’ve never seen the tip to let the dough rest in between mixing.  (Of course, I’m not the best with instructions…)  I can already see that my dough looks so much smoother than before.  yum, fresh bread with dinner tonight.  My kids are gonna love me!

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fave cutting board

handy little thing

I love, love, love this epicurean cutting board, made from recycled materials.  It has held up well.  These cutting boards don’t get those weird scratch marks that make plastic cutting boards difficult to use.  I always worry about bacteria growing in those crevices.  And the plastic boards stain.  Yuck!  These epicurean cutting boards handle like woodblock (the company calls it knife kindliness), but unlike woodblock, you can throw them in the dishwasher for easy cleaning.  They come in various sizes and I tend to favor the smaller ones.  My kitchen is tiny, so they get the job done without taking up a lot of room on the counter.  They are definitely a favorite tool! Mmmmwah!!! xoxo!

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This cake was a big hit with the whole family and you gotta love pumpkin for its wholloping amount of vitamin A.  Also, because the pumpkin is so dense, you can sneak wheat flour into the cake and no one’s the wiser.  This is not your fluffy cake variety.  It’s sweet, moist, and dense, almost like pudding.  So yummy and most importantly easy.  Quick to whip up for any kind of gathering or potluck.

Pumpkin Pudding Cake with Chocolate Chips

1 can pumpkin puree (plain, not seasoned)

3 eggs

2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 cup canola oil

1/4 tsp vanilla

1 tsp cinnamon

1 and 1/2 cups all purpose flour

1 cup wheat flour

1 cup chocolate chips (or more…it does have all that vitamin A so you don’t need to feel too guilty about the choolate!)

powdered sugar (for dusting after the cake has baked and cooled)

Mix the wet ingredient together and then add the dry.  As soon the ingredients appear blended, put the batter in a bundt pan.  (Grease the bundt pan if needed.)

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.  Allow the cake to cool, turn the cake out onto a plate and dust the top with powdered sugar.  Enjoy!

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Rich in antioxidants and fiber, black beans are definitely nutritious.  But will kids eat ’em?  Well, my two girls raved about them and barely left enough for me and their dad.  On the other hand my son was not a fan.  He did eat a few without complaining too much.   Don’t listen to him though.  After all, 2 out of 3 ain’t bad.

Cilantro is gives the beans a nice fresh flavor and adds a little color.  It’s also used to treat nausea and intestinal gas.  (who knew?) I wonder if that’s why we’re not gassy after eating all those beans!  With the economy the way it is, beans are cheap and filling, so we’ll be eating a lot of them.  This time I made them with fresh herbs, because I had them on hand.  They are definitely better with fresh cilantro and parsley, but I’ve made them with dried herbs (coriander and parlsey) and they are still pretty yummy.

black beans with cilantro recipe

One can of black beans

1 Tbsp. butter

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1/4 cup chopped onion

1/4 cup chicken broth

1 small handful of fresh cilantro

1 small handful of fresh parsley

Put all ingredient in a saucepan and cook on medium low.  Stir occasionally until butter melts and onions appear translucent.  Serve with a dollop of sour cream (if you want to make it pretty) and enjoy!

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hey there.

I’m a mom of three and love to cook.  sometimes.  well, most of the time.  I’m raising picky eaters on purpose.  I’m trying to teach them to love quality, nutritious foods in hopes that they will seek out vegetables when they get older.  It’s an uphill battle, but being a picky eater, it’s one I’m willing to fight.  For every time they eat their beans, they ask for the chicken fingers at school…  I know when I’ve won one when they ask for seconds, so I’ll keep serving up the good stuff, one dish at a time.

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