Monday, June 29, 2009

Sweet Potato Fries

My 1 year old is eating solid foods now and some day it is a challenge to come up with healthy things to feed her. I have been reading about what a super food the sweet potato is and have been looking at different ways to bring this vegetable to the table. The vegetable is a excellent source for vitamin A, vitamin C, Vitamin B-6, dietary fiber, potassium, and iron, why wouldn't I want to serve it to my kids. So thinking of ways to eat this that did not involve the use of forks, or pureeing the sweet potato where a challenge until I remembered how many people keep telling my how good sweet potato fries are. French fries are a great finger food, my daughter has never had them that I know of (a question for my husband perhaps?) so why not make her first experience a healthy one. I looked up some sweet potato french fries recipes and realized that I was going to want to bake them and not to season the fries so much that the nutritional benefits of the sweet potato were lost. I was amazed at the amount of recipes that called for tons of sugar my only thought was why bother adding sugar to something that is already so sweet. So here is what I came up with:

Sweet Potato Fries

1 sweet potato, peeled

1/2 teaspoon of salt

1/2 cup of olive oil

1/2 teaspoon of paprika

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the sweet potato into strips about 1/2 inch thick. In a bowl large enough to hold the potato strips mix olive oil, salt, and paprika and toss potatoes making sure that each is coated. Place seasoned fries on a baking sheet in a single layer and bake for 45 minutes for a slightly crispy fry. Serve immediately.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Cookbook Crazies

Cookbooks are one of those things that cooks can have a love/hate relationships with. Me, I like to check out cookbooks from the library and get inspired to try new things. Yesterday while at the library I found an book that I had high hopes for, but ultimately had to ask myself why would someone publish this. The cookbook I am talking of is Couscous by Kitty Morse, I am not attempting to offend Ms. Morse, and I really enjoyed the traditional recipes and I can't wait to make some preserved lemons, but really I think this book just goes too far. I really do not think that if I am going to take the time to make truffles from scratch that I would add couscous to the mix. I also did not like that almost every recipe was flavored with herbes de Provence. I like herbes de Provence, but I really do not think that they are the right flavor for everything. I would not use them in recipes that this book had them in, fine herbes maybe, but herbes de Provence, no. There are some great recipes such as the couscous and parsley salad which is something that I make all the time, but never thought to add some toasted pine nuts to mine. I will definitely be making the baked onion filled with couscous and preserved lemon which is pictured on the cover. But I think I will leave the desserts to others and look for some of the authors books that feature North African cuisine, her speciality.

Revenge of the CUPCAKES

About two weeks ago my daughter turned 1, it is hard to do a real party for a 1 year old so I decided since we do not have a ton of family in the area and my daughter does not have a huge social circle at this point in her life that we would keep it small and do a cupcake theme since the kids that would be attending are much older that her. I am not a baker at all and since hubby was out of town for work I made this as easy as possible on myself. I used some white cake mix, lemon cake mix, chocolate cake mix, and a funfettti mix. Let me tell you I should have stuck with lemon and chocolate and saved myself some time. The kids just loved the lemon. I also had every kind of sprinkle available, 3 different kinds of frosting, and some maraschino cherries. One of the children who attended is allergic to eggs and I wanted him to be able to eat a cupcake or two also so I searched around for a recipe that used cake mix and was egg free and stumbled across something that I never had heard of before. You can use soda and cake mix to make a low calorie and egg free cake, cupcake, etc. The trick is that you need to cook it for just a little longer. These tasted just fine, but were much stickier than all the rest of the cupcakes. I gave these ones to the little boy to take home with him so that got rid of a dozen, but I was left with close to 3 dozen more cupcakes. Thank God for 5 year olds and the fact that mine is always hungry, I feel like we were living off of cupcakes for a week. I was having them for breakfast, letting my son eat like three a day and we still had to throw away about a dozen. At this point I hope to not have to do or see anything cupcake related for awhile.

Eggs in a Basket or Eggs in a Covered Basket?

Some people may call them frog eyes, but since V for Vendetta I think most people know this great dish as Eggs in a Basket. I have been making this since high school, it is one of those great midnight snacks after being out drinking, it is also a great breakfast. My son has never had one and so I NEEDED to make this for him. He said that this was one of his new favorite breakfasts, but the big flatterer may have been trying to just make mommy happy because he has yet to ask for this again. So for those of you who don't kn0w about this tasty morsel at all let me give you a crash course in making an egg in a basket.
The first thing to consider is the bread, me I like a nice thick Texas Toast so that the eggs has enough room to stay in the basket rather than get all over the bread. The next thing is to butter the bread on both sides and then cut out a hole for the egg. By this time I already have my skillet heated and after I get the hole cut out I place my bread in the heated skillet and toast it on one side until it is nice and golden brown, at this point it is time to flip the bread and add the egg. I then place the cover on the skillet and after about 3 to 5 minutes it is time to decide whether or not to cover the basket. If you want it covered take a piece of cheese and cover the egg and toast with the cheese, reduce the heat, and place the cover back on the skillet, check after 2 minutes and it should be good to go. Add some salt and pepper if you wish, serve and enjoy.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Summer Brews

There is something about beer that just screams summer to me.

White wine is not really summer, mixed drinks remind me more of vacations, red wine well in my opinion it is just too heavy tasting for summer. So BEER it is! Working out in the yard, mowing grass, weeding, planting flowers, checking the vegetables and herbs growing, after a couple of hours in the sun on a hot day, nothing sounds better than a nice cold one. There are beers that fit occasions, for summer my beer of choice is Samuel Adams Summer Ale. This I have noticed that more and more breweries are following Sammie's lead and coming out with some great seasonal brews. I am sure it has been out for a bit, but I just noticed Sierra Nevada's Summerfest, which I doubt I will try since I am not a huge fan of the company's product to start with. Trader Joe's is offering a summer selection and my local wine shop has at least three other summer seasonals. I have tried a few, but none seam to have the summer taste of Summer Ale perhaps it is because of the special ingredients. According to the company's website this American wheat ale, "...uses malted wheat as well as lemon zest and grains of paradise, a rare pepper from Africa first used as a brewing spice in the 13th Century to create a crisp and spicy flavor and body. The ale fermentation imparts a background tropical fruit note reminiscent of mangos and peaches. All of these come together to create a quenching, clean finishing beer perfect for those warm Summer days." I could not agree more. Well it's 5 o'clock somewhere so it is time to crack a brew, get a break from the heat, start enjoying summer for more than great beer, and ask you what is your favorite summer brew?

Simple Pleasures

I love the berries of summer and finding new ways to incorporate them in meals. In my opinion a simple salad for lunch on a hot day is a great way to experiment with the flavors of berries. In order to combat the junk food craving my 5 year old is having we took a trip to Dean and Don's and came home with blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries, peaches, apricots, plums, and nectarines. My son has already eaten all of the raspberries and blackberries, but I got my hands on some of the blueberries before they were gone too. I made a simple salad of rocket greens, 1 oz. of feta, a handful of blueberries, lemon juice, and pepper. Next time I will have to add just a hit of zest so that I can add another bold color to this dish. Simple but satisfying lunch.

Jacques Pepin, Fast Food My Way

I have been watching this show every so often on the Create Network and on a recent library trip found a book of recipes from the show. I was inspired to try one for a light lunch after a trip to a local market found us some red radishes. I normally roast radishes or add them to a salad, obviously my french cuisine education has been lacking or I would have been eating these tasty bites long before now. It is simple, thinly slice a radish, cut up a nice baguette into slices, add some good quality butter, place radishes on top of the butter, dust with sea salt, and your done. I love this easy snack and will be on the look out for fresh from the radishes to enjoy in a new (well at least for me) way.

Bresaola and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo

I love Italian meats, one of my all time favorites is Bresaola. This air-dried salted beef is a beautiful shade of reddish purple that makes it a eye stopper when used in a rocket salad. Which is how I normally serve it. The other evening I decided to go for something a little different. I drizzled the meat with olive oil, squeezed a little lemon juice on it, added some fresh grated Parm and cut up some crusty bread and enjoyed with a montepulciano d'abruzzo. The earthy cherry and raspberry flavors of this type of wine make it an easy to drink red wine that with just a hint of acidity and tannins that make it hard to miss with these or almost anything else at the dinner table. Find a bottle and give it a try.

Fried Rice

I am sure that I have mentioned that I normally purchase fried rice from Trader Joe's but never again will I. For some reason fried rice was something that I was scared to make. I did not know how to make it, so I never bothered trying to figure it out, this changed when my 1 year old started eating solid foods. Fried Rice is a great food for new eaters as it has everything but dairy in one dish. I found a recipe on and started to play, I made some chicken fried rice and some beef fried rice, and both were a huge hit with the whole family. Here is my recipe modified from the link above:

Basic Fried Rice Recipe

4 cups of cooked rice

1 cup of frozen peas

1/3 cup of chopped carrots

1/2 cup of diced onion

2 tablespoons of butter

2 tablespoons of soy sauce

1 1/2 cups of cooked Chicken, Beef, or Pork

Cook rice following instructions on package. Pour rice into a large bowl to let it cool in the refrigerator. If adding meat to the recipe, cook meat and set aside. Scramble the eggs in a small pan over medium heat, separating the eggs into small pieces while cooking. In a large pan add some butter, and cook onions and carrots until the onions are translucent, set aside with eggs and meat if using. Melt 1 1/2 tablespoons of butter in the same pan that you cooked the onion and carrots over medium/high heat. When butter has completely melted, dump the cold rice in the pan and make sure that it is coated with butter. Add all other ingredients into the pan and add soy sauce. Cook rice for 6-8 minutes over heat, stirring often. Serve.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Yorktown Farmer's Market

I am blessed that I can wake up on a Saturday morning, pack up the family and head out for a 10 minute drive and be not only at a great beach area, but at the site of the end of the American Revolution. Yorktown is one of my favorite places in Hampton Roads and this weekend was the opening of the Farmers Market held at the Riverwalk Landing. There is a wide selection of seafood, meat, fresh herbs, plants, veggies, and baked goods at the market with some local businesses, and live music thrown in. One of my favorite things there is the bacon cheddar bread, forget about calories, forget about sodium, cholesterol, and anything else, this is a great bread that is worth the trip to the market alone. I was super excited to find a stand that as i was about to ask about their selection of herbs, I saw what I was looking for right away, french sorrel. I feel blessed. I am looking forward to next week's visit. To get more information head over to

Roasted Leg of Lamb

My husband loves Greek food, since he is going to be out of town for bit I asked what he would like to eat and a good bye meal and he asked for leg of lamb. I have never made this before, but boy would I again. This came out great, my only issue was that so many recipes for lamb tell you to cook it well done, why would you want to ruin a leg of lamb this way beats me, but I got mine out of the oven before it was too late. We served this up with some Mediterranean Style Humus from Trader Joe's, a Greek salad, and pitas.

Roasted Leg of Lamb

1 2-4lb butterflied leg of lamb

1/4 cup of olive oil

1 lemon

4 cloves of garlic

some fresh oregano

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Rinse lamb and pat dry. Place lamb fat side up in a roasting pan and season with salt and pepper. Using a knife make 3 slices spread out evenly in the lamb and add 1 clove of garlic into each slice. In a small dish or measuring cup pour 1/4 cup of olive oil, add the zest of 1 lemon, and the juice from half of the lemon, mince some fresh oregano and 1 clove of garlic and add to oil. Mix well and pour over lamb. Cook lamb for about 10-15 minutes per pound (for rare) basting lamb every ten minutes. Slice, serve and enjoy.

Teriyaki Sauce

I am a very bog snob when it comes to my teriyaki sauce only one will do, Soy Vay Veri Veri Teriyaki. This sauce uses preservative free soy sauce, fresh ginger and garlic, onions, expeller pressed soy and sesame oils , and sesame seeds to create the perfect marinade for your meats. Over the weekend I used a great tri-tip roast from the farm and grilled up a great meal. My tip for the use of this sauce is if you are doing steak/tri-tip let is soak up the marinade for at least 3 days. I know that this sounds crazy, but every bite of your meat will have the great flavor of Veri Veri Teriyaki and you will not be disappointed with the results. Check out Soy Vay at you can find out more information about the company's products and get some great recipes.