Archive for October, 2009

Spinach, Apple, Walnut SaladMonday – Chicken Pot Pie, Spinach Salad

Tuesday – Tuna Romesco, Salmon with Braised Lentils, Barley Pilaf, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Wednesday – Whole Wheat Spaghetti with Fresh Veggie Sauce, Spinach and Apple Salad

Thursday – Oven-barbecued chicken thighs, Chile Cheddar Cornbread, Green Beans

Friday – out to dinner while my two older children went to a 13th birthday party. Give me strength.

Saturday – out of town for the night.

Sunday – dinner at a football banquet.


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Saying Yes

DSCF7404I’ve had a weak year, or at least what I thought would be a weak year. It all started several months ago when late one night when my 7-year old son asked if he could eat the last piece of Graeter’s ice cream cake which was safely tucked away in our garage freezer. “Yes”, I said knowing full well it was too late to be eating cake and this might give me an automatic, don’t-pass-Go, pass into the Bad Mommy Club. But by saying yes, and the new found ease with which I whispered yes to him, led to an afternoon where I was all alone at the animal shelter adopting a sweet doggie for our family. Then I heard myself say yes, and murmur a prayer, as my 12-year old son asked to play organized football. Next, I hear a resounding yes as I sign a contract on the dotted line – to write a cookbook for a regional publisher. Yes, Julia, my sweetest girl, you can lie in my bed while we each read our own books. Miraculously, through my yeses, I’ve unleashed a new-found power of creativity. Saying yes has given me room to step outside my limited view of how this world should run, into the surrender of what someone else wants, or better yet what someone else needs. My kids needed a dog to bathe, feed, run around the backyard, and to lie with on the family room floor. My tween-aged son needed the camaraderie of sweaty, tackle-happy friends. My fellow Kentuckians need to hear about fresh, simple ways to cook Kentucky ingredients and how to never run from the privilege of cooking. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, but cooking at home is always a big yes to slowing down the world while you cook. Every time you shop for ingredients, or roll out the dough to feed others, you are saying yes to not only good smells wafting through your home, but yes to caring for those you feed. To me there is no greater gift than love shared through a home cooked meal. And in my opinion, there is no weakness in saying yes to that.

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2006_1126nov20060063Monday – Spaghetti and Meatballs, Cheesy Cauliflower, Roasted Cauliflower

Tuesday – Ratatouille over Rotini, Baba Ghanoush, Roasted Red Pepper Strips

Wednesday – Black-eyed Peas with Kale Soup, Silver Dollar Corncakes

Thursday – Cheddar Ale Potato Soup, Mixed Greens Salad, Meatball Subs

Friday – Domino’s Pizza

Saturday – Hot Dogs at a football championship game, pizza after the game

Sunday – Brats, Sauerkraut and Apples, Mashed Potatoes, Spinach (best male cook I know in charge)

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Does this look familiar?

Does this look familiar?

Makes 8 servings 

3 sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds) scrubbed and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 red onion, peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

4 ounces fresh spinach leaves (about 4 cups)

1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted



1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar

1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400°F. Place sweet potato and onion chunks on a large, rimmed baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake for 25 minutes until golden and tender.  Meanwhile, for the dressing, combine the vinegar, maple syrup, and mustard. Whisk in 3 tablespoons olive oil until the dressing is thick.  Layer the spinach and warm or room temperature sweet potatoes in a large shallow bowl. Drizzle with the dressing and scatter the pecans over top.

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DSCF9426Today is Tip Tuesday and I offer a tip on quick-roasting red peppers. I love a good roasted red pepper as much as the next gal, but the part which galls me every time is having to peel the slippery things. In my book peeling a charred red pepper falls along the same lines as peeling tomatoes – somewhat fussy and does the food really care? (My friend Ethan Becker uses that line all the time and it’s rubbed off.) So, this tip for a quick-roasted red pepper instructs not to peel the peppers. If you don’t like the peel, you won’t like this tip, but I encourage you to try it anyway. This 4-step tip makes about 2 cups roasted red pepper strips.  

Cut 4 red peppers into 1/2-inch thick strips. 

Place the strips on a large, rimmed baking sheet and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. 

“Roast” at 350° F for 45 minutes or until the peppers are soft and dark around the edges. 

For added flavor toss the roasted strips with 2 cloves chopped garlic and 1/4 cup finely chopped basil. Return to the oven for 10 more minutes. 

That’s my quick tip for roasting red peppers. You can now enjoy them as an antipasto, on pasta, with a vegetable panini, or straight off the baking sheet.

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DSCF9414Monday – Spaghetti and Homemade Sauce with Meatballs, Green Peas, Greek Salad

Tuesday – Chicken and Cornmeal Dumplings, Wild Rice Salad, Whole-wheat Linguine with Fresh Vegetables

Wednesday – Leftover Chicken and Dumplings,  Leftover Linguine with Fresh Vegetables

Thursday – Black Bean Burritoes

Friday – Barbecue Ribs, Baked Beans, Baked Potatoes, Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Saturday – Chili, Apple Slices

Sunday – Roasted Chicken, Spinach and Roasted Sweet Potato Salad, Buttermilk Biscuits

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DSCF51241. For a while now I’ve had my kitchen, food, cooking, grocery shopping routine down. I can make a menu, shop for food, and crank out at-home meals without a hitch. I hope this blog in some strange way inspires you to do the same. I believe our health is rooted in what we feed, or don’t feed, our bodies. What I’ve been struggling with for some time though is the laundry – the LAUNDRY. So, I decided to inflict a little routine into the laundry. I used to have a routine with laundry, with a little help from the best male cook I know. Then we’d end up with a few horizontal surfaces covered with folded, clean clothes that didn’t make it to their respectable owners. I went to war with the laundry and for the most part (except for my the room where my sons live – they share a room) I am proud to say I am winning the war. With a routine, and very little deviation from that routine, we do not have piles of dirty laundry waiting to be washed, or piles of clean laundry waiting to be put away (except for the room where my sons live.) Next I need to inflict some routine in that said room. While laundry and cooking go hand in hand, as the much dreaded household duties of anyone with children, please realize: while dirty laundry may not affect your health directly, “dirty” food (ie largely processed or fast food) does. If you have to choose between cooking or laundry, go for the cooking~

2. Fall is here. October is here. Gone are the peaches, corn, cucumbers, blueberries, cherries, and tomatoes I enjoyed over the summer. When you eat seasonally, and try to eat locally, you realize at this time of year what a feast summertime holds. Sure, I can go to my local supermarket and still buy corn, cucumbers, blueberries, and tomatoes from gosh knows where, but I’m trying to live a bit differently this year for reasons of awareness and just plain old giving it a try. We have local apples now, a few bananas (not local), and I even bought a bag of California oranges yesterday (definitely not local but at least domestically in season.)

3. The past few weeks we’ve seen a huge amount of rain in our area. I keep thinking about heading out to my sad, raised vegetable garden and pulling out the tomato plants which produced very little this year. I keep thinking about planting garlic. Usually if I keep thinking about something I know there’s a reason and I try to act on my thoughts. Garlic spends about 9 months underground, during the chilly fall and cold winter. But, just like most other bulbs planted in the fall, garlic produces its fruit in June. Let me know if you have any tips about growing garlic and I’ll keep you posted if I plant any.

4. I’m in the middle of a recipe testing job and I must say I find recipe testing one of my favorite ways to trade my time and energy for money. Not only do I prepare recipes that are not in my repertoire, but I find I cook differently depending on what I’m testing. Last year I tested recipes for a Southern cookbook. I cooked my way through sweet potatoes, chicken, fish, beans, alligator, and turtle (farmed, not wild, for those of you raising an eyebrow). Many of the recipes were a unique cooking experience because as a rule we don’t eat much turtle or alligator here in this house on even an occasional basis. With my current testing job, the recipes are meat, poultry, and saturated fat- (cheese, whole-fat dairy, and coconut milk) free. I’m cooking fish, whole grains, and vegetables. The biggest difference between the two styles of cooking – Southern and meat-free – is the amount of time I spend standing at the cutting board and the color of the meals. For the Southern recipes I’d do a bit of chopping and put the food in the oven, pot, or grill. The meals were not always quick, and the time in the pot was sometime long, especially when preparing soups and stews. For the meat-free recipes, I chop, chop, chop, and with a pretty quick cooking method, such as a fast saute or quick roast, the finished dish is ready. I guess what I’m trying to say is this: eating more vegetables and whole grains is good for us all. If you are making an attempt to incorporate more veggies and colorful food into your meals, and you find yourself spending more time at the cutting board, don’t be alarmed or give up. This is the biggest difference I can see between a meat-based and non-meat-based diet. Practice will make your speed improve or if you’re like me just enjoy the time in the kitchen. Chopping can be a pleasing experience. What better way to get connected to our food.

5. I signed my book contract this past week so it’s official now. My publisher is expecting delivery of the manuscript in the spring. What a gift to test and write my own recipes, for a book showcasing traditional Kentucky ingredients from a 21st century Kentucky kitchen. I’ll throw in a bit of goetta and “mangoes” for regional appeal. If you have a goetta recipe, or any regional food stories, or recipes, from Central and Northern Kentucky,  please, please get in touch. Just to give you a flavor of where I am – I’m in the middle of typing my grandmother’s recipe for Bourbon Balls – a Kentucky staple on the cookie platter at Christmas time.

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