Giveaway winner

The winner of the coffee bag giveaway is Mahan...college professor extrordinaire who happens to be my older brother! Thanks to everyone who played along, and stay tuned for more.


Coffee Sack Giveaway!

What would you do with a burlap coffee sack?  

No, seriously.  Tell me!  Because it's giveaway time!

It's been a long time since I've done a giveaway on here, because, well, there have been a few things going on at our house.  But, the time has come, and now you can win one of these bags!  They're from a local wholesale coffee roaster, and each one measures about 2'x3' (ish).

You have up to three opportunities to enter (do all three if you like!):
1.  Leave a comment saying which of the three bags you'd like to have AND what you'd do with it
2.  Follow this blog via Google Friend Connect and leave a comment saying so
3.  Share the giveaway on your blog, and leave a comment here with a link to the blog

I'll randomly choose a winner on Tuesday, January 29th.


Mulligatawny Soup

Mulligatawny soup
from my friend Rebecca over at down the rabbit hole
(absolutely worth your time to visit over there)

Yield: 4-6 servings

2 Tbsp. butter
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
2 tsp. curry powder
4 c. chicken broth
1 Granny Smith apple, peeled and diced
1/4 c. rice, uncooked
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1/8 tsp. dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste

Saute chicken breast on stovetop until just cooked; some pink in the middle is fine.  Remove from heat and dice.  While chicken is cooking, heat butter and olive oil in separate pot.  Add onion and carrot and cook until softened.  Add flour, curry powder, and broth.  Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 15 minutes.  Add apple, rice, chicken, and thyme.  Simmer 15 more minutes or until rice is soft and chicken is cooked through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.

Rebecca's extra notes:
"Some versions add half and half or coconut milk at the end; this version is hearty enough for us without.  For the crockpot savvy, this recipe can be adapted.  Leaving out the butter, olive oil, and flour, combine all ingredients in crockpot except apple and rice.  Simmer 4-6 hours, or until chicken is cooked through and pulls apart easily.  Add apple and rice 45 minutes (or less) before the end."  (my note: I went the crockpot route, and wished that I had used a Granny Smith apple instead of the softer mealier one I used that didn't contribute much of an apple taste at all.)

It's a safe bet that a soup coming out of Rebecca's kitchen is delicious, well-thought-out, and interesting.  She's one of these folks who loves fall and winter (I envy that) and seems to have a different soup for every cold-weather milestone.  She uses cool spices and fun root vegetables and is the kid of person who makes homemade granola and brews loose-leaf tea.  We met through a mutual friend when Rebecca moved to my town; I had my biggest culinary goof-up the first time she and her husband came to dinner; we were pregnant with our first children at the same time and our daughters were born just three weeks apart.  Even though we no longer live close to each other, I'm thankful as always to have her influence in my kitchen!


Dutch Baby Pancakes

from A Homemade Life by Amy Wizenberg
yield: 2 servings

2 Tbsp butter
4 large eggs
1/2 c. flour
1/2 c. half and half (I typically use whole milk instead)
1/4 tsp. salt
freshly squeezed lemon juice
sifted powdered sugar

Preheat oven to 425.  (Maybe you're like me, and you think preheating is just a conspiracy.  But, in this case, it's an important step because you need to slide the skillet into a HOT oven.  So, preheat.)
Put the butter in an 8-inch cast iron skillet and place over low heat.  As the butter melts, bring it up the sides of the skillet to coat.
Meanwhile, in a blender, mix together the eggs, flour, half and half (or milk), and salt until well blended.
Pour the egg mixture into the warmed skillet.  Slide into the oven and bake for 18-25 minutes.  The mixture will rise and puff around the edges, like a bowl-shaped souffle.  The dutch baby is ready when the center looks set and the edges are nicely risen and golden brown.
You start with a thin batter, and then you get THIS!  It's awesome.
Don't forget the lemon and powdered sugar.  You'll be glad.
Remove from the oven.  Drizzle the lemon juice and sprinkle generously with powdered sugar.  Serve immediately.

This is what we had for breakfast this morning - easy to whip up, fun to eat, and just enough time in the oven to drink some coffee, brush my hair, and put my contacts in.

Which is exactly what I need these days: coffee, and a semblance of being "put together" by noon.  Not that I have anything to complain about regarding my daughters - they're just as sweet and fabulous as ever.  But one of them is two.  And the other is a newborn.  So most days I find myself thinking at 8 PM, "Did I remember to put on deodorant today?" and "Surely I stepped foot out of my house at least once, right?"  The poor dog has been relegated to his lowest position yet.  I am pretty sure I will never be able to vacuum or sweep again.  And grocery shopping?  I think I'll be able to pencil that in by March.

Yes, things are hectic, chaotic, wild, and overwhelming.  And so worth it.

Here's to getting back to "normal" ... sometime!


Indian Chicken, Spiced Broccoli, and Simple Bread

You know I don't typically do the whole meal in one post, but since this is what we had all together, I figured I should share it all at once.  Those of us at dinner decided that each part of this meal complemented the other parts, so I was glad that at the last minute I had chosen to do the broccoli and bread (originally I was just going to serve the chicken over rice).  Don't be intimidated by the ginger-garlic paste in the broccoli recipe ... I had some of the paste leftover, which I will use to make more broccoli soon!

Indian Chicken (adapted from the recipe found here)

2 lb boneless skinless chicken breast
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1/2 large onion, diced
1/2 tsp. fresh ginger, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 tsp. ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
2 tsp. garam masala
1/2 c. plain yogurt

Place all ingredients in the crockpot minus 1 tsp. of the garam masala and the yogurt.  Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  30 minutes before serving, shred the chicken.  Stir in the yogurt and taste.  Add more garam masala if desired.

Spiced Broccoli (adapted from The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide)
1 1/2 - 2 c. broccoli florets
2 Tbsp. ginger garlic paste (recipe following)
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2-1 tsp. salt
oil for frying

In a bowl, toss broccoli florets with ginger-garlic paste, flour, and salt until evenly coated.  Let florets marinate for 15 minutes.  Heat 1 inch of oil over medium heat; when hot add the broccoli in batches.  Cook on each side until pale brown in color.  Remove to a paper towel to drain.  Continue until all the florets are fried.

Ginger-garlic paste: In a blender, combine 1/2 cup peeled garlic cloves with 1/2 cup peeled fresh ginger and 1 tablespoon of water.  Puree into a paste.  Store in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Simple Indian Bread/Chapati (from The Everything Indian Cookbook by Monica Bhide)
2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. salt
3/4 c. warm water
vegetable oil for greasing
2 tsp. melted butter

Combine flour and salt.  Add the water slowly, kneading as you go.  Make a soft dough, kneading for at least 10 minutes.  The final dough should be soft and pliable, not sticky.  Cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap and let it sit for 30 minutes.
Lightly dust a clean work surface with flour.  Cut the dough into 12 equal portions and cover again.  Roll each ball of dough into a 5-6 inch circle and cover with a damp cloth again.  Heat a dry griddle on medium heat.  After about one minute, small blisters will appear on it.  Flip it to the other side for about one minute until dough is cooked and dry.
Brush with melted butter and serve warm.


A Year of Food

For Christmas this year, I gave the Mr. something that I am (somewhat selfishly) very excited about: A Year Of Food.  Instead of buying him a gift and putting it under the tree, I wrote him a note that went something like this:

Merry Christmas Sweetheart!  You know as much as I do that international travel is not in the cards for us as a family this year.  We've got two little ones, and a dog, and a budget.  But you know how we've always talked about traveling and living in one place for a few months, taking cooking classes, and learning about regional cuisine?  My gift to you this year is somewhat of a spin on that.  2013 is going to be a "Year of Food."  I'm going to give you four different ethnic cuisines this year, once a week for 3 months apiece.  I'll try to go as authentic as possible by actually following recipes.  I'll do some research, shop at the local ethnic stores for supplies, and we'll have ourselves an international culinary experience without the jet lag.  [Insert other sweet/kind/loving things here].  Love, The Mrs."

Fun, right?  I'm so excited!  I decided on cuisines from these four countries: India, France, Ethiopia, and Italy.  We had our first Indian meal last week, and I'm not going to lie - it was awesome.  We had Indian chicken, spiced broccoli, and simple bread (chapati).  We'll get to eat Indian food January through March.  I am allowing myself some grace in the learning process - like, I put the main dish in the crockpot since we've got an unpredictable newborn around.  You know how much I'm into the crockpot these days ...  

I'll post the recipes soon!


Becky's Yoga Bag

Cousin Becky came to town a couple of days ago for an extended-weekend visit.  Besides the must-have visit requirements of movies, catching up over mugs of hot beverages, pancake breakfasts, and loving on the kiddos and dogs, we decided to tackle a new project in the sewing room: a yoga bag.  Previous joint sewing projects have included a quilt or two, a dress made from an XXL man's shirt, and some headbands.

Disclaimer: I don't know anything about yoga except that my $3.99 "Prenatal Yoga" dvd from ebay helped with my aching hips both pregnancies.  I certainly wasn't advanced enough to need a bag for my mat (ok, let's be honest - I used a camping ground pad as my yoga mat) ... but Cousin Becky is pretty legit when it comes to yoga-ing.  She just moved to DC, and needs some good hippie swag to start conversations with her new yoga mates.

We both agreed that she needed fabric that says "Hey, there's a story behind this."  So, she went shopping in my fabric stash and settled on some Nigerian fabric in royal blue with a large green swirled diamond.  She's creative enough that she'll make a good story out of it.

She worked from this tutorial and added a 4"x6" pocket with a velcro closure to hold her iphone and keys during class.

Little Girl "helps"
We are always so excited when Becky comes to town, and are thankful that family ties are strong, sweet, and lasting!  See you in April, cousin!


Chipotle Lime Chicken

A few months ago I posted about this cool idea I ran across called Freezer-Crockpot meals.  The basic rundown is that you take all the ingredients for a crockpot recipe, dump it in a bag, pop it in the freezer, and then put the frozen block directly in the crockpot when you're ready to cook it.  We had this recipe tonight that I had prepped, and it was delicious!

Chipotle Lime Chicken (4-6 servings/bag - recipe makes 2 bags)
2 cups diced onion
2 cups chopped celery
2 cups chopped carrots
8 skinless chicken thighs
salt and pepper to taste
2 cans tomato sauce
1/2 cup lime juice
2 tbsp minced chipotle chiles in adobo sauce
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup cilantro
2 sliced avocados
Split all ingredients into two bags except avocado.  Freeze.  
Cook on low 8 hours. 
Thirty minutes before serving, remove chicken to a plate.  Shred meat from bones, then return meat to sauce and discard bones.  Serve with avocado on top.  Serve on top of rice or noodles. (We topped it with shredded cheese, crushed chips, and sour cream too).

This blows my mind ...

The friends we stayed with for New Year's Eve and Day just moved into their new house.  This cabinet in their kitchen is inventive and creative - so mind-blowing that I just had to blog about it.

So, look at this picture: one of those awkward corner rotating cabinets, right? 
 Just kidding ... it's drawers!

This is mind-boggling!  I love it. 


Happy Birthday (2)!

Happy birthday!



Little Girl, you are bubbly, fun, talkative, friendly, cuddly, and downright precious!  Every day you make Daddy and Mommy think (and say) that we are so thankful to be YOUR parents!  Seeing your curiosity and excitement about life brings us a kind of joy that we never knew existed until you came along.  You are our sunshine every day!
Happy birthday to you, sweet one!