Archive for Cooking/Baking

10 Aug 2014

What Just Happened

No Comments Cooking/Baking, Family, Nutrition

All I know is Summer Break just started, and now it’s over. And a lot of shit happened in between.

Garrett became even more confident, more independent, and more sassy than I thought he ever could (before turning seven).

I had six days to myself when G went to Oregon to stay with Grandma Farm.

I got about 1/4 of the things done that I wanted to get done in the six days I had to myself.

Russ and I drove to Oregon to spend some time with the fam, and grab our boy. The drive up was amazing and reaffirmed everything I already knew about my marriage: It’s awesome. I’m lucky. My husband is the coolest dude ever. We kick ass on a road trip.

Oregon was lovely as always.

Russ, G and I drove to San Francisco to spend four nights in the city by the bay, where I had never been. I managed to bust my foot so bad that after the first day I needed crutches to walk, and my boys spent the last day without me. They went to Fisherman’s Wharf and a freaking Giants/Dodgers game. I lay in the hotel room, my foot up on pillows, eating car snacks for dinner. We were out $100 for my seat at the game.

G decided to spend the last week of his break at gymnastics camp, improving his grip strength, flip ability, and foam pit technique. I caught up on doctor’s appointments and paperwork, then I started to freak out about school starting and how unprepared I feel (again), and how much I feel like I have to do before we’re back on the hamster wheel and I officially become the PTA Treasurer. (Really, really bad idea.)

Last school year, G complained that I was making too many sandwiches. All of the sudden he was sick of them. That came crashing back to me a few nights ago, so I made a list of 10 lunches I can make for him, only two of which involve “sandwiches”. I’m hoping it will help me be more organized and less “WHAT AM I MAKING MY KID FOR LUNCH?” And I’m counting on it making him happier at lunch time.

I posted the fact that I was making menus on Facebook and Twitter and everyone laughed at me. A few people private messaged me asking for my menus. So, I’m going to post them here for those people. And… When I say “a few”, I mean “two”.

This will give you all a chance to laugh at me openly by leaving a comment here, or to secretly print these menus to accomplish the same thing I hope to accomplish this year.  The choice is yours! Either way, we all know I’m a nut bag.

Hope your summer has been wonderful. Mine truly was. I’m sad it’s over, but looking forward to the adventure of First Grade. And I’m GOING to blog this school year. Because if I can make a 10 day rotating lunch menu… I can write a few sentences each day. Right?? RIGHT????

 

PITA PIZZA, carrots, individual hummus cup, pretzels, grapes

HOT DOGS, string cheese, baked snap peas, dried fruit, trail mix

CHICKEN SALAD, wheat thins, cucumber, banana muffin, raisins

PB&J SUSHI, celery & ranch, cheddar cheese, apple sauce, graham crackers

SALAMI & CHEESE, ritz crackers, carrots, popcorn, cantaloupe

WONTONS, crispy rice roll, cucumber & ranch, banana muffin, grapes

MAC & CHEESE, celery & cream cheese, dried fruit, baked snap peas, animal cookies

CHICKEN NUGGETS, carrots, hummus, goldfish, cantaloupe

TURKEY SANDWICH, pretzels, apple sauce, muffin, celery & ranch

BAGEL W/ CREAM CHEESE, CINNAMON & HONEY, raisins, cucumber, trail mix, animal cookies

 

 

15 Jan 2013

If HE has nitrates, I want nitrates!!!!!

6 Comments Cooking/Baking, Family, Nutrition

This is my second attempt at this post. You see, it’s a very complicated subject; one that must be dealt with with such finesse, such a delicate hand, that I’m not sure of my exact approach. I’m sure by now you’ve guessed what the topic is.

That’s right. Lunchables.

Here is me trying to make my long, boring post more readable. Bullet points:

I pack very healthy, very tasty lunches for my son. Organic fruits, sandwiches with organic sunflower butter or nitrate-free turkey, snacks with no corn syrup or hydrogenated oils.  He FREQUENTLY tells me how delicious these lunches are.

Now kids are bringing Lunchables to school.

G wants Lunchables.

I can not seem to convincingly talk my son out of wanting me to purchase Lunchables. I tell him I will make better versions of the same, exact thing. This falls on deaf ears.

Lunchables are packed in bright packages and include juice and candy. The teachers won’t even let the kids at school eat the candy that comes in the Lunchables! I explain this to G. G does not care. He says he can eat the candy after school.

Side note/bullet point: Except for one breakfast, in the car, on the way home from Central California… G has never been to McDonald’s. I know he will go one day, probably soon. Probably with me. But so far I have substituted In N’ Out for Mcdonald’s. It’s not the BEST. But I think it’s much BETTER.

I am trying to apply this philosophy to his lunches. I add fun snacks, like cheddar bunnies or organic fruit gummies. I let him have bad stuff, too. I promise I do. He gets treats. He gets candy. (Real candy made by Hershey’s and Jelly Belly’s!) He gets lollipops. He gets desserts. I don’t shield him from that stuff because I don’t want him to leave for college and shove so much junk in his face that he ends up in a sugar coma for 12 weeks.

I just think there’s a better way to do things. And I don’t want to give him crap to eat just because other people do. And please know that I do not, in any way, believe that these parents love their kids any less than I love mine. They don’t. This just isn’t their main focus. It is, however, one of mine.

So, what do I do? Do I let him have one Lunchable a week? Do I fight the good fight and make Lunchables so taboo that one day he goes out and robs a convenience store with a shiv? Do I show him sickening pictures of the inside of a human body filled with Nitrates, Corn Syrup and Nerds???? Do I start my own pre-packed lunch company called Edibles, filled with delicious, organic food? Do I PRETEND to start this company, just so G thinks he’s getting his own brand of pre-packed goodness to take with him in his Batman lunchbox?

GARRETT-ABLES!!!! Read that out loud. It sounds like “Garr-Edibles”.

I just became a possible millionaire. And it’s all thanks to Lunchables and a very boring first post on the topic.

Feel free to discuss.

25 Feb 2011

I’m Not Making Dough, So I Made Cookies Instead

6 Comments Career, Cooking/Baking, Toddler

This is one of those times where I wish I could talk about my career completely openly and honestly and tell you exactly what happened these last couple days.  It’s been very frustrating. Essentially, I was offered a couple weeks of work and then the offer was taken back. The work was un-offered. De-offered? It was ripped away from me.

Now, keep in mind I was just at home minding my own business when I got the call about work. And it’s not like I was jumping up and down and screaming, “YAY!”, but I was looking very forward to it. When it was taken away the following day, I was nothing if not frustrated and confused.

Of course, there’s nothing I can do about work being taken from me, especially when I wasn’t expecting it in the first place, and especially when there’s been no contract signed or formal agreement made.  I think what was angering me most was that I was very happy NOT working until I heard I WOULD be working and then that I WOULDN’T be working… And all of a sudden I was in a terrible mood. I don’t like being unhappy, but it was very difficult to get out of my pissy mood.

So what did I do, you ask? I love how curious you are. I made cookies! That’s right. I made Crispy Oatmeal Cookies. And I loved doing it. And I was making them for people who deserved them who DIDN’T live in this house. BUT, my curious friends, do you know what happened?

Well, as soon as I was done making the batter and I had the first batch in the oven, I gave a beater to Russ and the other to Garrett so they could eat the cookie dough. (I use pasteurized egg whites, so it’s totally safe to eat the batter. I know, I’m no fun.) I watched Garrett loving every last lick of that dough, and it made everything bad go away.

When I was pregnant I dreamed of moments like this. I used to tell Russ how much I hoped our kid would like the way I cooked and would want to eat the cookies and breads I made.  I told him I couldn’t wait to share moments in the kitchen, as well as in other rooms of the house, of course. When all the cookies were made (and I had entered the recipe into my LoseIt program, finding out that each one was 108 calories), I bagged up the ones that were going to other houses and kept 10 for us.

Today when Garrett got home from school he asked for a cookie. Tonight he asked for one for dessert, and then he wanted one more. I’m not big on sweets in the middle of the day, or giving more than one cookie for dessert… But somehow G-Man had three Crispy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies today. It just seemed right.

My goodness, that kid makes me happy.

And here’s the link to the recipe:

So, I just read this over to make sure I didn’t make any huge spelling or grammatical errors, and I realized that you might not know that I also enjoyed watching Russ eat that dough. And that whenever I go through crappy stuff he’s there for me, making it all better and supporting me. And that is why crappy stuff never seems so crappy, and why I always feel incredibly, stupidly lucky. I have an amazing son, and an equally amazing husband. Mushy part over.

17 Jan 2011

How’d You Like a Dutch Oven?

5 Comments Cooking/Baking

About six years ago, I was in a cold reading class in Burbank. One day during break, I was talking to a very sweet guy who was in the class. I can’t remember his name, because I’m TERRIBLE at remembering the names of people who aren’t in my every day life. Anyway, he was lovely, and one day we were chatting about random stuff and he asked what I love to do. I told him I was just really getting into cooking and that I found it to be the most relaxing, zen-like, nourishing thing in the world. (I still feel that way). I asked him what he loved to do, and he told me that he and his partner went flea-marketing every weekend.

He asked if I had a Dutch Oven, and I told him I wasn’t into kinky sex. Then he informed me that a Dutch Oven is an awesome pot for cooking soups and stews, and that he would find one for me at one of his flea markets. I thought that was very sweet and then I forgot about it.

About two weeks later, he came to class with a Dutch Oven for me. It was beautiful, orange, and reminiscent of the Le Creuset line of cookware that I had been drooling over at Williams Sonoma. He informed me that this was the stuff that INSPIRED the Le Creuset cookware and that it was original Descoware from Belgium. I was blown away for so many reasons: 1. I now had this pot that I hadn’t even known existed two weeks earlier, but that would apparently change the way I cook. 2. I had never bought something at a flea market before, so I assumed I was going to be washing the shit out of this pot the second I got home. 3. This man who I barely even KNEW had not only kept his word, but he had so kindly bought someone he barely knew a very special gift. Wow.

Well, I promptly took it home and, as previously mentioned, washed the living shit out of it. Then about a week later, I made beef stew for the first time. It was good, homey and comforting. I had broken in my pot. Since then, I’ve made hundreds of soups, stews, and pasta sauces in my Descoware. And every time I do; honestly every single time, I think of the guy (whose name I can’t remember) who told me he would buy me one… And did. It’s my favorite piece of cooking equipment and I will have it forever.

09 Nov 2010

Thanksgiving Schedule

8 Comments Cooking/Baking

Yes, I wrote myself a Thanksgiving Schedule about four years ago. I typed it in Word, printed out the two pages, stapled it and brought it into the kitchen. Now I pull it out every year and do exactly what it tells me to do. It starts the day before Thanksgiving, with brining the turkey. If you’ve never brined a turkey, DO IT THIS TIME! It makes the moistest, juiciest dang bird you’ve ever had. I get my brine at Williams Sonoma and I think it’s worth the splurge, but there are many brining recipes on line that are great. It takes a little while because you have to boil and completely cool the brine, so give yourself ample time, and make sure you have a giant bag to brine in! I always get my Diestel turkey at Whole Foods. Delicious, vegetarian fed, no added hormones or anti-biotics and cage free. You can get organic or regular. Unpaid plug, kids.

The reason my Thanksgiving is pretty simple, is because I do a ton of the prep work the day before. I clean and brine the turkey, therefore I already have the neck and giblets to make my gravy starter. I also cut up all my veggies for the stuffing and place them in baggies, I make any desserts or breads I want to make, I boil eggs for deviled eggs (Russ makes them. Sooo good!), and I make my dough for the pumpkin corn fritters.

Thanksgiving Day, I take the turkey out of the fridge an hour before cooking to bring it to room temperature, and I wash off all of the brine. You don’t ever want to put cold meat in the oven, you’ll be adding a lot of cooking time and it could dry out. My Mother-in-law taught me how to make a turkey 7 years ago, and it has never failed me. Right before roasting, I put an onion and fresh herbs into the cavity, and I rub the entire turkey with olive oil and a generous helping of salt and pepper. I put the turkey in a 325 degree oven until it’s golden brown. Then I tent the turkey and keep roasting. I never baste, and I open the oven as little as possible. Butterball.com has pretty accurate roasting times and has always been very helpful with any turkey questions, but I always check the temp on my bird and hour before it’s “supposed” to be done.  The temperature inside the deepest part of the thigh, without touching the bone, should be 180 degrees. The temperature in the deepest part of the breast should be 170. The turkey should be fully cooked at least a half hour before dinner, so it can rest before you cut it.

Then I’ve timed (to the minute) when to do everything else, like roasting the garlic for the mashed potatoes, boiling the potatoes, sauteing the veggies for the stuffing, making the green bean casserole, frying the fritters, etc. If you haven’t made a schedule for yourself, I highly recommend it. Just write down everything you’re doing as you do it this year and you’ll have it done by the end of the day! It helps me out every year.

GRAVY RECIPE (AS REQUESTED)

DAY BEFORE:

Saute’ neck and giblets (toss out liver) in 1/2 stick of butter for about 8 minutes on each side, or until browned.

Add medium sliced onion and 32 oz. chicken broth.

Cover and simmer for about 1 hour, 45 minutes. Remove and throw away neck and giblets. Strain remaining broth into glass container and refrigerate overnight.

THANKSGIVING DAY:

Start about 1/2 hour before dinner is served

Skim fat off top of broth and place in saute’ pan.

Put remaining broth in small pot and heat on low.

Heat fat in saute pan with about 1/2 cup of flour, stir with wooden spoon until brown and toasty smelling (about 4 or 5 minutes)

Slowly ladle warm broth into flour mixture and begin whisking.

Continue to whisk and add broth until all broth is used.

Add pan drippings from turkey and continue  whisking. Simmer and whisk about 10 minutes.

This gravy has always come out perfect. A couple of times I’ve had to add a little Wondra to thicken it a bit, but it’s so freaking good. If you’ve ever had gravy problems, try this one! And please, for the love of Thanksgiving, let me know how it turns out!!

02 Nov 2010

Housewifery

8 Comments Cooking/Baking, Family, Personal Crap

Belts are being tightened around the Arch household. No, not in the “I’ve lost so much weight, my pants are too big” kind of way. More in the “It’s been a slower year than normal and we need to rein it in a bit” kind of way. Don’t worry! We’re fine. I’m not giving you a PO Box to send donations to… Yet. One of the things Russ and I agree on is how to spend money. We’ve always lived a little below our means and, since we’re both in an industry that thrives on never knowing where one’s next check is coming from, we try to keep big purchases to a minimum.

However, we are definitely changing our habits. For instance, we used to eat dinner (and lunch and some breakfasts) out a lot. I’d say on average we’d eat dinner out at least four nights a week. And I ate lunch out almost every day. There were periods of time when I’d cook a few meals a week, but it was never very consistent. And if we had leftovers in the fridge the next night, they’d sit there until they were thrown out, because we were at a restaurant. We don’t go to expensive restaurants. We like casual, diner-type places. But it doesn’t matter. Those meals out add up quick!

So, for about two months we’ve eaten almost every meal at home. I cook now at least four times a week, and we’re eating leftovers the other nights. And can I just tell you? I AM LOVING EVERY FREAKING MINUTE OF IT! I feel so… accomplished. And it feels fantastic to take care of my family like that. I feel like I’m nurturing them. Feeding people is a very powerful thing. I’ve always felt that way. But doing it consistently like this makes me feel like some kind of a super hero!

Yes, I am well aware that there are women (and some men) all over this Earth who cook every single night, and have done so for 10, 20, 30, even 50 years. I get it. I’m not the first person to cook for my family. But I can’t stop congratulating myself about it! I’ve learned new recipes and brought back old ones. I’m making soup and chili and about five different kinds of chicken! I’m roasting veggies and making pasta sauce. I’m putting awesome leftovers in Garrett’s lunchbox! Even the occasional “frozen food” nights are fun. And then I’m really counting the money we’re saving. Oh, and one night we had sweet potato pancakes, scrambled eggs and ham. Everyone was so happy! I’M KING OF THE WORLD!

Seriously though, I’m feeling very proud. Not because of the cooking, but because I’m learning things about myself. I am being given this time without work, and it feels like the biggest blessing. Ever since Garrett was born, I’ve wanted to be home more than anything. I love working, and I do hope to get back to it someday. But right now, in this pocket of time, I’m learning about what kind of wife and mother I am. I’m teaching myself new skills, and I’m finding out that I really like this side of me that I always knew was there. I’ve always joked with my friends, and they will attest to this, that I’m a 1950’s housewife trapped inside the body of a working actress. And, even though I’ve yet to greet my husband at the door with a martini, it’s true. I don’t even mind cleaning so much. I’m not a genius at it, but I’m good. And I like walking into the rooms I’ve cleaned and taking a deep breath, knowing that I did that.

The bottom line is this: I’m grateful and humbled. I’m so lucky that I’m able to stay home for this time, which could end at any moment with the birth of a new job, and find out that I truly love being this person. I feel more like me than I ever have before. That is such an amazing feeling. And I hope to take this new, authentic me to any job I have in the future. Because I think this person is much more interesting and happy than I ever used to be. Plus, if my work days are behind me and I never get offered another job, I really like the one I have right now! I’m humbled because of the women who do this job so beautifully all day, every day with more kids and less resources. I’m amazed at their grace and skills, and their ability to do it with very few thank you’s or pats on the back. I hope they take some time to congratulate themselves, like I just did! I’m also humbled by all the women who never get the opportunity to stay home with their kids because they have to work every day, no matter what. I believe that most of them would rather be mothering than working, and I admire them for doing what they have to do.

Friday night we decided to go out for dinner for the first time in a long while. Garrett asked what we were getting ready for and Russ said, “We’re going out for dinner!” Garrett whimpered a bit and said, “NO! I want to eat at home!” That might have been the best compliment I’ve ever gotten.

20 Oct 2010

Mother. In. Law.

5 Comments Cooking/Baking, Family

Oh shit. My mother-in-law reads this blog. All the personal stuff, all the complaining, all the stories about her beloved grandson, all the evil things I plan to share about her son, she reads. She told me. She was very complimentary and said she enjoyed my writing but that’s beside the point. She reads this blog.

I’ll tell you why it makes me a bit jumpy. It’s the recipes. Yup. Not the personal crap or the other crap, or the other crap. It’s the recipes. Know why? Because when I first met my mother-in-law I didn’t know how to do a gosh darn thing in the kitchen. (Well, I knew how to do SOME things, but I can’t print them here because my mother-in-law reads this blog. Let’s just say I got an engagement ring out of it.) One time on a trip to Oregon, when Russ and I were still dating, I asked if I could help with dinner and she gave me the toddler-sized job of cutting celery. A test, perhaps. I failed. I cut the celery slowly and poorly, one stalk at a time. My mother-in-law stepped over to me, having just plucked and cleaned three chickens in the time I cut half a stalk and said, “You know Lisa, you can cut them three at a time, like this.” She then took the knife and showed me. And we laughed. We laughed a lot. My laugh was saying, “Oh my god. I feel like such an inept asshole. This woman thinks I’m a bimbo.” Her laugh was saying, “Oh my god. My poor son is going to starve to death in that apartment in California. This girl is a bimbo.”

Since then a lot has changed. Now when we visit the in-laws, she trusts me to make three quarters of a meal, if not a whole meal all by myself sometimes! She’ll even ask me cooking advice every once in a while, which I personally think is just to make up for how I still feel about the celery incident. She seems to feel less like her son is being held prisoner and only being fed stale bread and cloudy water through a slot in his metal door. And I think she likes the way her grandson is fattening up.

She and my step-father-in-law are coming to visit for a few days at the end of the month. They usually like to go out to dinner when they’re here, (which I find suspicious), but this time I think I’ll surprise them with a gourmet meal of celery soup, celery stew, and roasted celery. I think she’ll laugh. And her laugh will say, “This girl is a bimbo. But I like her.”

15 Oct 2010

Chili Recipe

2 Comments Cooking/Baking

Okay, so I made this chili recipe and it was super good. So I made a double portion of it last night, and it was super good again. It’s basically two recipes I found that I put together and it’s super easy and delicious and I wanted to share it with you. Aren’t I super generous? Here it is:

Saute’ a chopped yellow bell pepper, half of a chopped onion and tbsp garlic in olive oil until soft. I actually add crushed garlic when there’s only about 5 minutes of saute’ing left to do.

add a splash of chicken stock to get up all the yummy stuff
put 1lb ground white turkey in with some season salt and garlic powder and brown.
add two cups chicken stock and stir.
add one can drained, rinsed kidney beans,
about 2 cups crushed tomatoes,
tbsp chili powder,
tsp basil
tsp oregano
tsp cumin
tsp or so hot suace
pinch of sea salt
stir.
add more stock and crushed tomatos if it looks too thick
simmer, uncovered at least 35 minutes or until it starts getting thicker.
add 1 1/2 cups frozen corn, a little more stock and a little more crushed tomatoes
simmer 20 more minutes

The first time I made this, I simmered for a total of about one hour.  Last night, it was closer to 2 1/2 hours. I don’t think you can simmer it too long.

Russ grilled some turkey dogs, put them on whole wheat buns and topped them with the chili. I baked a box of corn bread (adding a tbsp of flax meal), and ate it in a damn bowl! Delish. Today we ate leftovers. It’s even better day two! Let me know if you try it!

13 Oct 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Bread

9 Comments Cooking/Baking

Okay, I don’t know if you ladies are asking for recipes to mock me, but you’re getting them either way!  Here’s a bread I used to make all the time to pretty great reviews.  It’s been a couple years since I’ve made it, so I’d love someone to try it and let me know what you think!  The following recipe is for one bread. Just double it for two! And if you like it super banana-ish, add a little more banana!

Sift Together:
1 1/2 C. Flour
1 TSP Baking Powder
1 TSP Baking Soda
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
1/4 tsp Salt

In a separate bowl, mix together:
1 C. Sugar
3 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 C. Peanut Butter
2 eggs

Add dry ingredients to wet and combine
Stir in 1 Cup Mashed Bananas and 1/2 Cup chocolate chips

Bake at 350 for about 45 to 50 minutes.
If middle seems undercooked, cover with foil and bake an additional 4 minutes. Then turn off oven and leave an additional 4 minutes if needed.

11 Oct 2010

Kiss My Sweet (Potato) Ass, Jessica Seinfeld!

7 Comments Cooking/Baking, Nutrition

Okay, so whenever Jessica Seinfeld was on Oprah with her book Deceptively Delicious, when was it?  Two years ago?  Anyway, whenever that was, I watched and I ran out of the house, straight to Target and bought the book.  Garrett was probably a year old and I was already worried about how to get vegetables into his food.  Are kids eating solids at a year old?  I swear to god, I don’t even remember.  It’s like as soon as I move on to the next phase, I forget what the last phase was. But that’s not the point.  The point is that I ran out and bought the book and was so impressed and like, “Wow!  What a cool freaking idea! I can’t wait until I can go get all this equipment and start puree’ing veggies and sneaking them into all of my son’s food!”

So a year goes by and I really want to try one of the recipes, but I still don’t have any of the equipment and it’s too close to dinner to start steaming and puree’ing a bunch of beets and spinach.  So what do I do?  I run to the grocery store and buy a bunch of the organic baby food veggies I used to feed Garrett!  That’s right!  Baby food.  It’s organic.  It’s vegetables. It’s already pure’ed. Done. I came home and made the chicken nuggets on page 75, and you know what?  It was the first time I ever made GOOD chicken nuggets!  I had tried so many times in the past, and failed.  But these?  These were delish!! I’ve made them several times since, and they are always, always a hit.  I usually mix in squash or sweet potato, but sometimes I try a little peas or spinach.  You have to be judicious.

So now, I always have a full stock of baby veggies in my cabinet.  I put them in my pancakes, my nuggets, and now I buy Annie’s Macaroni and Cheese and, instead of adding any milk, I just put in a jar of squash with some butter and the cheese. Garrett LOVES it!  I’m fortunate that Garrett eats some peas and broccoli and carrots even when they’re not hidden, but this way I know he’s getting veggies even if he’s not in the mood for them.  I even add flax meal whenever I can, like to quick-breads, any bread/coating on fish or chicken, pancakes, etc.  Flax adds fiber and omega 3’s, and I actually really like the flavor.  Kinda nutty.  Yes, like me.

My point is this:  I try to be a good mom.  I try to be the best mom.  But I can only be the best mom I can be.  And I ain’t gonna stand in my kitchen every Sunday night with loads of fresh vegetables; steaming, cooling, puree’ing, bagging, and freezing them.  What I can and will do is buy the damn baby food and use it in the exact same way.  So there!

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