Archive for August, 2008



Yup, we’re still alive over here. It’s just I haven’t been doing much cooking lately, so I’ve no ideas to share. We’re getting close to the end of the pregnancy so I’m wobbling around like a weeble people. I could tell you some great places to get take out, though. 😉



Thistles always remind me of this story by Nate Wilson, which I remember reading shortly after finding out we were pregnant with our daughter (you can guess that there were tears). These beautiful thistles are from our local university arboretum.


Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo

This is a great easy meal. It’s hot and flavorful but surprisingly healthy. Don’t be skeptical of the amount of orzo – it doesn’t seem like much but when you mix all the other stuff in it bulks up quite nicely. And, at nearly 40g of protein per serving, it’s the perfect pregnancy meal!

Basil Shrimp with Feta and Orzo

1 regular-size foil oven bag
Cooking spray
1/2 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 cup diced tomato
3/4 cup sliced green onions
1/2 cup (2 ounces) crumbled feta cheese
1/2 teaspoon grated lemon rind
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
3/4 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil

Preheat oven to 450°.

Coat inside of oven bag with cooking spray. Place the bag on a large shallow baking pan.

Cook the pasta in boiling water 5 minutes, omitting salt and fat; drain. Place the pasta in a large bowl. Stir in 1 teaspoon oil and next 7 ingredients (1 teaspoon oil through pepper). Place the orzo mixture in prepared oven bag. Combine shrimp and basil. Arrange shrimp mixture on orzo mixture. Fold edge of bag over to seal. Bake at 450° for 25 minutes or until the shrimp are done. Cut open bag with a sharp knife, and peel back the foil. Drizzle with 1 teaspoon oil.


beautiful storms

We had some great wind and rain and thunderstorms here last week that provided a much needed respite from the heat. The lightning was amazing and we drove out to a high spot to watch the show until our little one had had enough, and then we were relegated to watching from our bedroom window. Still quite spectacular. Here are a couple of pictures that don’t actually give any impression of the magnitude of the storm, but at least prove that there was indeed lightning.


school ‘desk’

We’ve decided that it might be a good thing to set up a semi-formal ‘school time’ for Little B in the mornings. In order to set this time apart a little better, I thought I’d put together a sort of activity mat that we can lay out on the table and use that will signify that it is ‘school time’.

I wanted something durable and easily washable that could hold some of B’s supplies. I came up with this oil-cloth mat with pockets for her colored pencils, markers, and crayons.

As I get the time I will sew the alphabet along the top (the letters are already cut out of the same oil-cloth that is used as the trim for the pencil-pockets), and numbers down the right side with a corresponding number of buttons for each numeral.

And the best part is that it folds up for easy storage. There will, at some point, be velcro to hold it closed. Something compact like this is the perfect alternative to an actual desk when you live with limited space.


‘bones’ mac ‘n cheese

As I mentioned in my last post, we’ve recently become fans of the medical/crime drama Bones. This is only to be expected as we are already fans of every other imaginable medical or crime drama. Apparently we’re quite easy to entertain. Anyhow, in one of the episodes there is mention of a restaurant that puts pancetta and leeks in their mac ‘n cheese and it is supposedly quite good, so I thought I’d give it a go. I kept it simple and just added pancetta and leeks to my trusty Better Homes and Gardens mac ‘n cheese recipe, and we loved the results. So here’s the recipe for mac ‘n cheese a la Bones.

1 cup dried elbow macaroni
1/4 cup chopped onion
1 tablespoon butter
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/4 cups milk
6 oz american cheese
3 leeks, sliced
6-8 oz pancetta (I used the thin sliced kind, but if you were to cube a thicker cut I think that would be better)

Cook macaroni in unsalted water about 10 minutes or until tender but still firm. Drain well.

For the cheese sauce, in a medium saucepan cook onion, leeks, and pancetta in the butter till onions and leeks are tender and the pancetta is a bit crispy. Stir in flour and pepper. Add milk all at once. Cook and stir till slightly thickened and bubbly. Add american cheese, stirring till melted. Stir in cooked macaroni. Transfer mixture to a 1-quart casserole.

Bake in a 350 oven for 25 to 30 minutes or till hot and bubbly. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.


Sweet Potato Casserole

This one was a winner in our book. Plus, with school starting soon,
you can’t deny it’s time to start integrating winter produce.
My only tip is to salt and sweeten to taste before you cook it.
That way you’ll know it’s perfect prior to serving.
Adapted from


2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (3 medium), peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon canola oil
2 tablespoon honey
1/2 cup milk
freshly grated zest from one orange
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste

1/2 cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
4 teaspoons frozen orange juice concentrate
1 tablespoon canola oil
1 tablespoon butter, melted
1/2 cup chopped walnuts (1 3/4 ounces)

Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan; cover with lightly salted water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook over medium heat until tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Drain well and return to the pan. Mash with a potato masher. Measure out 3 cups. (Reserve any extra for another use.)

Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat an 8-inch-square (or similar 2-quart) baking dish with butter or oil.

Whisk eggs, oil and honey in a medium bowl. Add mashed sweet potato and mix well. Stir in milk, orange zest, vanilla and salt. Spread the mixture in the prepared baking dish.

To prepare topping: Mix flour, brown sugar, orange juice concentrate, oil and butter in a small bowl. Blend with a fork or your fingertips until crumbly. Stir in walnuts. Sprinkle over the sweet potato mixture.

Bake the casserole until heated through and the top is lightly browned, 35 to 45 minutes.