Archive for November, 2007

30
Nov
07

Dinner Tonight

Since I have dinner roughly 3 hours before all our Moscow friends, here’s my suggestion for dinner tonight — it’s what we are having.

Chicken, slow-cooked in chicken broth (or on the stove or in the oven, your choice)
Rice, flavored, from a box (I love faux gourmet rice!)
Baked Broccoli (recipe here)
Wine (as always, red wine is good for your heart!)

Easy, nutritious and delicious!

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30
Nov
07

Get a Grip

If you’re like me, your monthly period is a hurricane of irritability, exhaustion, and hails of tears (not to mention worse-then-childbirth-cramps). After several attempts at natural remedies for the pain, my amazing gynecologist has given me pharmaceutical help. Thankfully, the Tylenol 3 takes the edge off the pains, but it doesn’t save my family from the barrage of violent mood swings. A couple months ago I found this tea at David’s Natural Market (like a food coop) and decided to give it a try, even though it was the most money I’d ever spent on tea. After 4 months of using it, I can report that it is a screaming success. As soon as I recognize my pms symptoms, I start a to boil a pot of water with one tea bag. I use 1 tea bag a day and just refill the pot every time I pour a cup. After it comes to a boil, I cover it and let it simmer on low until I’m ready for my next cup. I usually drink about 8 mugs of it a day (with 1 tea bag). Since I started drinking it, there’s been a gloriously notable stability to my emotions. I’m still a bit blue, but it’s not anywhere near what it was before. Nothing a little chocolate and a back rub can’t cure. The tea tastes soothing and it’s warm (so it helps relax your muscles, which is half the battle with pain caused by cramps). For about $10.00 you get 36 tea bags. I only use them on my worst days (2 days) a month, so those 36 bags will last me a year and a half and that isn’t half bad. My husband also learned a wonderful cramp massage I will ask him about and share in another post, but for the time being, get thee to an organic market and buy Get a Grip in bulk!

30
Nov
07

‘lighter’ sesame chicken

Along with my MSLiving renewal I got a subscription to Everyday Food this year. I got my first issue last week, and I’ve tried two recipes so far. Here’s the sesame chicken recipe, and then below is the chicken with olives, raisins, and spinach rice recipe. The sesame chicken was pretty good, despite its label of ‘light’. The sauce was definitely not as sweet or sour as a normal sauce, but it was still quite good (a much more delicate taste than the normal knock-you-out-of-your-chair stuff). Make sure you put some salt in the water for the rice!

3/4 cup brown rice
3 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
2 tablespoons soy sauce
1 garlic clove, finely chopped or crushed with a garlic press
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cut into 2-inch chunks
Coarse salt and ground pepper
2 tablespoons vegetable oil, such as safflower
4 scallions, thinly sliced
1 1/2 pounds broccoli, cut into large florets, stems peeled and thinly sliced

Place a steamer basket in a large saucepan, and fill with 1 inch water; set aside for broccoli. Cook rice according to package instructions.
Meanwhile, make sauce: In a small bowl, combine honey, sesame seeds, soy sauce, and garlic; set aside.
In a large bowl, whisk together egg whites and cornstarch. Add chicken; season with salt and pepper, and toss to coat.
In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil over medium-high. Add half the chicken; cook, turning occasionally, until golden and opaque throughout, 6 to 8 minutes. Transfer to a plate; repeat with remaining tablespoon oil and chicken. Return all the chicken to skillet; add reserved sauce and scallions, and toss to coat.Meanwhile, place saucepan with steamer basket over high heat; bring water to a boil. Add broccoli, and cook until crisp-tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Serve sesame chicken with broccoli and rice.

30
Nov
07

chicken with olives, raisins, and spinach rice

Another recipe from Everyday Food. I have to say that I’m not wild about this recipe, but my husband loved it, so I thought I’d pass it on. I used bagged baby spinach and found the olives in bulk at Rosauers (my wonderful husband actually picked them up on his way home from work – what a life saver!). I’d suggest chopping the spinach a little more finely – my ‘coarsely chopped’ leaves didn’t toss so well with the rice. And while I wasn’t wild about the flavors, I will make it again, and it did look good.
chicken-dinner.jpg

1 cup long-grain white rice
Coarse salt and ground pepper
1 bunch flat-leaf spinach (1 pound), thick stems removed, leaves washed well and coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon olive oil
8 chicken culets (about 1 1/2 pounds total)
1/3 cup dry white wine
1/4 cup pitted Kalamata olives, slivered
1/4 cup golden raisins

In a medium saucepan, bring 1 3/4 cups water to a boil. Add rice, season with salt, and return to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook just until tender, 16 to 18 minutes. Remove pan from heat; add spinach, cover, and let stand, without stirring, for 5 minutes. Using a fork, fluff rice and mix in spinach.

While rice is cooking, heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook in two batches, until browned outside and opaque throughout, 1 to 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a plate (reserve skillet); cover with aluminum foil to keep warm.Add wine, olives, and raisins to skillet. Cook over medium-high until wine is almost evaporated, 1 to 2 minutes. Add cup 1/2 water; cook until sauce is reduced by half, 2 to 3 minutes. Serve chicken over spinach rice, and top with sauce.

29
Nov
07

inexpensive invites

We will be hosting a few parties between now and Christmas, so I needed to find an inexpensive way to create invites. JoAnn’s dollar bins to the rescue! I found packages of four ‘notes’ with matching envelopes for $1, so I bought two. Being apprehensive of my penmanship abilities, I printed out the text on a separate sheet of paper and framed it with a slightly larger piece of black scrapbooking paper and glued it on with rubber cement. I think they turned out quite nicely for $0.35 a piece!
invite.jpg

On a side note, I also found three fantastic board books in the dollar bins. They’re full color books with animal pictures, nature pictures (with flowers and parts of trees! fantastic!), and the alphabet. They look a lot like the Dorling-Kindersley books, and only a dollar a piece! Can’t beat that!

29
Nov
07

exuberant dough

I’ve begun making all of our bread here at home, rather than buying it in the stores. Every week (we go through about two loaves every 5-7 days) I modify the recipe a little. I’ve found the ratio of about two-thirds white flour to one-third whole wheat flour results in the most ‘wheatiness’ while maintaining optimum ‘pouffy-ness’. This week, my husband mentioned that he’d like it if it were a little less sweet and a little more ‘hearty’. So I added a quarter cup of oat bran and a quarter cup of flax seed and omitted the sprinkling of sugar on the top of the loaves. He loves it! I can’t really tell a difference in the taste (except that it’s maybe a little less sweet), but for some reason it was a little more enthusiastic during its rising periods, so it was nice and airy and light, despite being ‘heartier’. Here is its enthusiasm, captured on film (or SD card, as the case may be):
dough1.jpg
And in an effort to teach my daughter the joys of the kitchen, I let her do the fun stuff, like punch down the dough. For a nearly-two-year-old, I think she did a stand-up job of it with her little fist.
punched.jpg

29
Nov
07

Keeping Your Head

I was recently reminded that is it good thing to take a mom time-out every now and then. It has been a rather bumpy week with adjusting back into the swing of non-vacation life and illness (anyone have good remedies for colds?). My sanity felt like it was being washed out to sea with every wave of responsibility. Admittedly, my attitude wasn’t helping anyone, either. Housewives just can’t allow themselves to be basket cases. If mom crumbles, so does everyone else! I knew it was time to bring out the big guns: after Ophelia had been bed down for the night, and Ben was fed and grading papers, I broke out the champagne that Kat gave me for my birthday (last October). I located my hidden stash of leftover Hershey’s kisses from Halloween and settled down in my favorite chair with a book and the remote. I read for a bit and then watched That Touch of Mink on TCM. I may have lost an hour or so of sleep I would have had if I hadn’t pampered myself, but I was a much stronger, happier person for it the next day.




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