July 7, 2015

June 2015 iPhonetography

Boy, time really flies once you have children.  I used to think it went by quickly, but now that I’m watching how fast Ryan grows, it really passes quickly.  I finally started to feel a whole lot better, so this month mostly consisted of long walks with the dog, afternoon outings while wearing the baby, and lots and lots of cooking with a baby on board.  Sigh.  I’m going to miss the time do these things now that I’m back at work.  I’m so glad I started to finally feel better so I could at least enjoy 3 weeks of my maternity leave!

PicMonkey Collage

1) Dreidel enjoyed my newfound mobility just as much as I did – every morning we took a nice long, leisurely walk before it was too hot outside.
2) Our neighborhood pet store always has the best cashiers!
3) Our little guy is such a huge fan of babywearing – he falls right to sleep the second I put him on and head out for a walk.  We mostly use ring slings, but here we’re using a Wrapsody Breeze gauze wrap.
4) Right around 8 weeks, Ryan finally stopped hating baths and shifted to what I’ll call “mild contentment.”
5) Another walk, this time in the Maya Wrap.  My husband had a week off in June so we ran lots of errands and took Ryan out to lunch with us several times – it was wonderful!
6) Ryan started social smiling right at the two month mark, and it’s basically the best thing ever.  Nothing like that huge toothless grin to make up for all the exhaustion and crying!
7) Road Trip!  We piled the dog and the baby in the car and headed on our first mini-road trip to visit my parents and grandparents.  Everyone was a total champ – the baby slept the whole way, and the dog did well with her new cramped quarters, now that there’s a car seat in the way.
8) Best part about visiting the suburbs: GRASS!  Wheeeeeeeee!
9) Four generations in one picture: my father and my grandparents.
10) 9 weeks old and so alert – he started really focusing on things around him.
11) I love babywearing because it leaves my hands free. I took the picture after walking the dog to pick up our CSA share, and three separate people stopped to comment that it looked like I had my hands full.  Hmm… actually.. my hands were empty!
12) He is such a happy baby!
13) My husband’s first Father’s Day – pictured with his favorites.
14) Ryan’s nursery is almost done.  Thanks to his early arrival and some terrible shipping delays (seriously Pottery Barn, four months to send a stupid curtain rod?), it took a really long time to get it together.
15) My birthday came around towards the end of the month, and we happened to be in DC for the weekend for a bachelorette party.  The evening of my birthday was spent with some of my very favorite people, feasting on Indian food and cupcakes.  It was perfect!
16) Annual summer Barenaked Ladies concert – it was nice to get out of the house and enjoy a little bit of our pre-baby selves again.

July 4, 2015

CSA 2015: Week 4

I debated for a long time if I wanted to do a CSA this year or not – I wasn’t sure how my cooking would change with a new baby in the house.  I head back to work on Monday which will turn things upside-down, but so far I’ve been cooking dinner pretty much every night and am so glad we went with a CSA share again this year!  We did have our first produce casualty this week – sadly, I didn’t get around to pickling the pickling cucumbers before they went bad, but I had visions of never having time to cook and everything going bad, so I guess this isn’t the end of the world.  Hopefully the cucumbers will be the only lost cause of the season!

Our third box included the following produce, and a rundown of how we used it:

  • 1 bag baby kale: sandwiched in between a crab cake and a poached egg (this will be a recurring theme throughout the summer)
  • 1 bunch mustard greens: stuffed into meatball subs on homemade hoagie rolls (I didn’t love the recipe, so if you have a great hoagie roll recipe, please send it my way!)
  • 1 quart sweet summit cherries: eaten as is
  • 1.5 lbs yellow summer squash: grated and used in zucchini tots (recipe to come)
  • 2 heads of broccoli: served alongside pesto chicken stuffed shells (recipe to come)
  • 2 pounds pickling cucumbers: RIP
  • 1 bunch candy onions: grilled with chicken and shrimp kabobs for a family dinner
  • 2 Pequea Valley Farms chocolate yogurts: eaten as is

Untitled(Photo from Greensgrow)

This week, we received:

  • 1 quart sour cherries
  • 1 bunch rainbow chard
  • 1 bunch candy onions
  • 5 green bell peppers
  • 2 zucchini
  • 2 large cucumbers
  • 6 ears of sweet corn
  • 2 Pequea Valley Farms maple yogurts

June 24, 2015

Italian Salami Flank Steak Pinwheels

Looking for an impressive but relatively quick dinner option, worthy of serving to guests?  Look no further.  Step aside, gents.  Yours truly will woman the grill tonight.

Italian Salami Flank Steak Pinwheels {Bunsen Burner Bakery}

First, a little backstory (feel free to skip ahead if you can’t wait to dive right in to making these – I won’t blame you!).  If you know anyone in the medical field, you may have heard a phrase that goes something along the lines of “the fourth year of medical school is the best year of your life since kindergarten!”  Friends, let me tell you: it’s true.  Many moons ago, my husband was a 4th year medical student and found himself with an absolutely epic amount of free time.  Sure, there were real rotations – acting internships and whatnot – but most of the rotations were nothing short of a joke.  Radiology rotation?  Home by 10am most days (no wonder that’s what he chose for residency…).  Pathology rotation?  He was called in one day out of an entire month for an autopsy.  He did a radiology “research month” which consisted of about 10 hours of work putting some data into a spreadsheet… and then asking me to do all the statistics since he couldn’t remember how to do chi-squared analysis.  I’d come home from long, miserable days in my graduate lab and find him on the floor, eyes glazed over, in the middle of an all-day playstation game with a fellow fourth year med student.  One day, I came home early and found him on the elliptical watching Oprah.  Often, he’d be spread out on the floor watching the Food Network.  My jealously knew no bounds that year.  (Things have a way of evening out, though – it was a tough transition when he had to work 110 hours in the ICU in his first 7 days as an intern.)  One of those days, I came home and he told me all about these steak pinwheel things he saw on Rachael Ray that looked really good, and after a dramatic eye-roll over his daytime Rachael Ray watching, I tucked the idea away for the future.

flank steak pinwheels

Fast forward seven years, and I finally decided to give them a whirl (ha, whirl… pinwheel... I’ll stop now).  Since I’m home on maternity leave, we’ve been having friends over for weeknight dinners, a luxury that will probably stop once I head back to work.  I love to grill, as do the friends we had over this particular evening, so it seemed high time to try out the flank steak pinwheels.  While our mid-week entertaining days will probably end, these definitely will not – despite a worthy-of-company appearance, they’re quick to pull together and grill, so they remain an excellent weeknight choice.  The hardest part is butterflying the steak to allow for maximum stuffing.  You just want to make sure to butterfly with the grain to ensure that the steak is sliced against the grain when it is cut into serving portions.  Unsure how to butterfly a flank steak?  The fine folks at Serious Eats have an excellent visual tutorial  on butterflying, stuffing, and tying the steak for pinwheels. The possibilities for stuffing are endless, but I went with a simple Italian-style filling, with lots of garlic, parsley, salami, and provolone cheese – delizioso!

Ingredients:

  • 1 whole flank steak, 2 to 2.5 pounds, trimmed of excess fat
  • kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 1 cup chopped parsley
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced salami
  • 4 ounces thinly sliced provolone cheese

Directions:

  1. Lay steak on a cutting board with grain running parallel to the edge of the counter.  Gently pound out thicker regions to form a rectangle.  Butterfly the steak, leaving the back edge attached by about half an inch of meat.  Carefully open the steak and flatten the seam gently to form a large rectangle.
  2. Season open side of meat with salt and pepper.  Spread garlic and parsley all over the steak, leaving a 1-inch border along the top and the bottom.  Layer the salami and provolone over the steak, maintaining the border.
  3. Carefully roll the steak into a long log, tightening as you go until it forms a cylinder.  Let it rest with the seam side down.
  4. Tie the roll tightly with twine, spacing the ties evenly every 1.5 inches apart.  Tie from the outside in – the last piece of twine tied should be at the center of the steak.  Season the outside of the steak with salt and pepper, and cover with vegetable oil to prevent sticking to the grill.
  5. Grill over medium-high heat, rotating 4 times during cooking to evenly brown the outside, until an instant-read thermometer register 140F for medium.  Remove from the grill and let rest for 10 minutes.  Slice between the pieces of twine and serve.

June 20, 2015

CSA 2015: Week 3

Time for another CSA update!  We received our third box this year, and I love that this CSA includes both fruit, a non-meat protein, and sometimes cheese.  I do miss the additional vegetables that we received in our previous vegetable-only CSA, but the additional variety is great.

Our second box included the following produce, and a rundown of how we used it:

  • 2 bunches of arugula: dressed with a little olive oil and vinegar and paired with some vinegar-glazed chicken and corn
  • 1 bag of baby kale: used for quinoa cakes with poached eggs (sidebar: I LOVE that poached eggs are back on the menu – it was probably my most-missed food of pregnancy)
  • 1 quart sweet charlie strawberries: eaten plain
  • 1 bunch asparagus: grilled and served with grilled polenta and balsamic mushrooms (along with pesto chicken for my husband, using the carrot tops and beet greens)
  • 1 bunch spring onions: used in various dishes throughout the week
  • 1 bunch new carrots: carrot tops were combined with the beet greens and turned into a pesto; carrots were grilled with a little olive oil and balsamic vinegar
  • 1 bunch beets: greens went into aforementioned pesto; beets were roasted and added to my favorite beet salad for a weekend visit with family
  • 1 cup chevre goat cheese: about a third went into the beet salad; the rest has yet to be used
  • 2 Pequea Valley Farms blueberry yogurts: eaten plain (and delicious – I forgot how luxurious full-fat fruit flavored yogurt is!)

Now onto this week’s box:

image(Photo from Greensgrow)

  • 1 bag baby kale
  • 1 bunch mustard greens
  • 1 quart sweet summit cherries
  • 1.5 lbs yellow summer squash
  • 2 heads of broccoli
  • 2 pounds pickling cucumbers
  • 1 bunch candy onions
  • 2 Pequea Valley Farms chocolate yogurts

June 16, 2015

Chocolate Oreo Peanut Butter Torte

Today is my husband's 33rd birthday. It's hard to believe we're this old - I met him when he was just 19.  We've celebrated quite a lot of birthdays together, and he requests the same thing every year: this dark chocolate cheesecake.  And every year, I question how I could marry someone with such terrible taste in dessert.  His family tradition growing up was an ice cream cake - maybe I need to steer him back in that direction for next year, although he'd probably want chocolate ice cream, so that really doesn't help my quest in a desert for his birthday that I'd want to eat.  Fortunately, my birthday is right around the corner, which means I can make something I like to celebrate.  Hopefully my mint plant will kick it up a notch this week, since mint chocolate chip ice cream is generally my birthday dessert du jour.

Chocolate Oreo Peanut Butter Torte {Bunsen Burner Bakery}

Since I've already shared the recipe for his birthday dessert of choice, I'll share something else right up his alley in honor of his big day: a chocolate oreo peanut butter torte. Oreos! Peanut butter! Cream cheese! Chocolate ganache!  What's not to love?  (Well, for him - nothing. For me, the cream cheese and chocolate ganache.). Despite the multiple steps and layers - oreo crust, peanut butter mousse, chocolate ganache - this practically no-bake treat comes together fairly easily, just leave time for lots of chilling.  Also, while we’re at it, I’ll take this opportunity to share the best springform pan I’ve ever owned: Kaiser Bakeware.  This isn’t sponsored – I bought both the 9-inch round and the 13x9-inch rectangular pans with my own money, but they are basically leak-proof and so much better than the previous brands I have used.

chocolate oreo peanut butter torte

I made this last fall when friends invited us over for dinner and was then stuck with that awkward food blogger dilemma: do I bring this to their house with a piece already cut out so I could photograph it, or do I ask to bring a piece back home instead of leaving all the leftovers with them?  To my husband's delight, I opted for the latter, meaning he had another piece to eat the next evening. But really, I find myself in this same situation all the time and never know what to do.  Food blogging: the struggle is real.

Chocolate Oreo Peanut Butter Torte
Adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking: From My Home to Yours

Ingredients:

  • For the crust:
    • 32 oreo cookies, ground into crumbs
    • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • For the crunch:
    • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped
    • 1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
    • 2 teaspoons sugar
    • 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
    • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • For the filling:
    • 2 cups heavy cream
    • 1 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
    • 12 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
    • 1 1/2 cups creamy peanut butter
    • 2 tablespoons milk
    • 1/4 cup salted peanuts, chopped
  • For the ganache:
    • 1/2 cup heavy cream
    • 4 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
    • 1/2 cup salted peanuts, chopped

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350F.  Butter a 9-inch springform pan.  Combine the oreo crumbs and melted butter in a small bowl and stir to form small clumps.  Press the oreo mixture into a thin layer, covering both the bottom and the sides of the springform pan.  Freeze the crust for 10 minutes and then bake for another 10 minutes.  Transfer the crust to a wire rack and cool completely before filling.
  2. In another small bowl, combine the chopped peanuts, miniature chocolate chips, sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Toss with a fork and set aside.
  3. Using a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment, whip 2 cups of the heavy cream until it holds medium peaks.  Whisk in 1/4 cup of the confectioners sugar, beating an additional few minutes until the peaks become firmer.  Scrape the whipped cream into a separate bowl.
  4. Replace the whisk with a paddle attachment and beat the cream cheese with the remaining 1 cup confectioners sugar, mixing on medium speed until the cream cheese is smooth.  Beat in the peanut butter, milk, and 1/4 cup of the chopped peanuts until well combined.  Gently fold in 1/4 of the whipped cream using a rubber spatula.  Next, stir in the crunchy peanut mixture, followed by folding in the rest of the whipped cream.
  5. Scrape the peanut butter mousse into the crust, smoothing the top.  Refrigerate for at least 4 hours or up to overnight; cover with plastic wrap once the mousse layer firms.
  6. Once fully chilled and firm, start the ganache layer.  Add the chopped chocolate to a heatproof bowl.  Bring the 1/2 cup of cream to a full boil in a small saucepan, then pour the boiling cream over the chopped chocolate.  Let the chocolate and cream sit for 5 minutes; then stir with a rubber spatula until the ganache is completely smooth.
  7. Pour the ganache over the torte, smoothing with a spatula.  Scatter the remaining chopped peanuts over the top and chill the entire torte in the refrigerator until the ganache sets, about 30 minutes.  Once the ganache is firm, remove the sides of the springform pan and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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