Comfort food favorite: tortilla soup

Tortilla soup - adultIn case you’re not crazy about consuming a stick of butter’s worth of dairy fat in one sitting, here’s another comfort food favorite from our archives: tortilla soup.

The thing that makes tortilla soup so awesome is the broth which you make by roasting tomatoes, tomatillos (in a pinch, use extra tomatoes instead), poblanos and onions and then pureeing them up with vegetable stock (or chicken, if you’re into that kind of thing).

The other thing that makes it awesome is the toppings. Our standards are salty cheese that you can crumble or cube (farmer’s cheese, feta, haloumi, etc), cilantro, lime, freshly-fried corn tortilla strips and avocado. My kids like to add rice. You can do some dried chiles or even shredded chicken. This recipe is way flexible.

My kids love DIY dinner. Rose eagerly consumed two bowls. Sid tried two bites, which is two bites more than he tries 95% of the time.

Here’s the recipe. More posts and inspirational images here and here, and that’s Rose’s bowl below.

Also, tortilla soup would not exist without Mexico. Just sayin’
Tortilla soup - kid

Comfort me with cheese

Penne with five cheesesDear Almost Everyone in the Entire World,

You’re probably feeling pretty fucking depressed right now. I know I am. People everywhere are walking around like zombies, looking for hope, and trying to figure out how they’re going to get through the next four years.

Enter comfort food. When drinking and chocolate fail me, I turn to cheesy, creamy baked pasta with tomatoes and butter. Al Forno’s Penne with Tomato, Cream and Five Cheeses is all I have to offer you. It’s literally a melting pot of many diverse kinds of cheese, that’s why it works and that’s why it’s good. I hope it brings you comfort.

Do yourself a favor and add a side of broccoli, I promise you won’t regret it (unless you don’t like broccoli).

Love,
Me

Beautiful birthday

“Do you want to have dinner on your birthday?” Shane asked me on the evening of Rose’s birthday (which happens to be exactly a week before mine). “In general, I like to have dinner every night.” I replied.

“Would you like pasta primavera for your birthday dinner?” he asked a little while later, as he perused the cookbook Rose gave him for Father’s day. “I would LOVE pasta primavera.” I said. “Let’s do dinner at my parent’s house. With the usual people. And early, so that Sid will be less likely to melt down. I know! A non-sit down dinner at a non-meltdown time!” Oh, I’m good.

Oh… I have good intentions.

Despite Sid’s numerous meltdowns, it was a lovely birthday dinner because the pasta was amazing and all of the salads were amazing and the cake—which was cut so fast I couldn’t get a picture—was my grandma’s recipe made by my mom, and had lots of chocolate in the middle and extra chocolate on the side. And most importantly, the people I love were there.

And we played Pictionary.

Happy birthday to me. xoxo

 

This kid is 9

Rose turned 9 today. I’m not freaking out about it because I know I’m going to freak out big time when she turns 10. She asked to have sushi for her birthday dinner, and instead of a cake, she wanted to make Rice Crispy treats with me and put candles in them.

Our sushi order for 3 (Sid doesn’t really eat dinner) usually arrives with at least 8 pairs of chop sticks and a 3 figure bill. I asked Shane to help us economize this time by making himself a filling side dish. He made a cheeseburger.

After our weirdly satisfying sushi/burger dinner, we had the aforementioned treats, with candles and chocolate covered strawberries. It was a beautiful evening. Happy, happy birthday our Rose. We love you infinitely.

 

Vegetarian chicken cacciatore (and regular chicken cacciatore)

veggie_chicken_cacciatoreOh hey there! It’s been a long, long while hasn’t it? We don’t have room for The Light in our tiny temporary basement apartment, but we added a new lamp in the kitchen so now I can take semi-decent pictures of dinner that don’t look all gross and flourescenty.

Shane and I recently became weary of our months-long, and very steady rotation of beans & quesadillas, penne alla vodka and pasta with Marcella’s famous sauce for dinner. He mixed things up when he had a week off of work, bringing recipes out of retirement and adding some new things to the mix from a cookbook Rose got him at a yard sale.

I was inspired to do the same with dinner tonight. There were a lot of mushrooms in the fridge so I resurrected easy chicken cacciatore, and while I was at it made vegetarian chicken cacciatore—aka white beans with garlic, rosemary and tomatoes—for myself. Rose said the chicken was amazing, especially the “soup.”

The chicken seemed like it would have been nice with some crusty bread or rice or pasta. The beans were just right with a side of roasted eggplant. chicken_cacciatore

Summer birthdays

Labor Day 2016We close out every summer with a birthday celebration for my sister Anna. We either have steak or Mexican, and I almost always make a cake. This year was a steak year. But first, we had sidecar cocktails, veggies, dips, cheese, crackers, ribs from the smoker, shrimp cocktail, lots of family, 8 trips to the grocery store, an epic happy birthday song, and one husband almost lost at sea.

We really earned our sidecars that night. First, we had an awful lot of people and were just plain disorganized, thus the 8 trips to the store. Then, Shane decided to go for a nice kayak as hurricane Hermine approached.

Shane is a big, strong man, but he’s no match for a hurricane. While I decided whether to be mad at him for being dead, or mad at him for not showing up to make cocktails on time, my dad and Bob kept their wits about them. Dad and Bob drove around the bay looking for a big, stranded man and found him. He arrived back and made sure everyone had a sidecar in hand just in time for Sid to serenade his Auntie Anna.

Once we had everyone more or less intact, we sat down to steak accompanied by tater tots, Iceberg Wedge Salad, and ultimately Belgian chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Frosting (which some folks chose to eat as a Cake ‘n Cone).

I made Belgian chocolate Cake with Malted Chocolate Frosting for Anna’s birthday two years ago. It was amazing, but the filling—though interesting with white cake mix for flavoring—didn’t seem entirely worth the effort. This year I made it with just the malted chocolate frosting and 3 layers of moister-than-moist cake. It was a tremendous hit and I’ll be sure to make it again.

Thanks to all the folks who helped out with the kids and my mental state while Shane was off battling the hurricane and possibly dead. And happy, happy birthday Auntie Anna!

 

 

 

Dispatch from the basement

  you may have noticed that I haven’t posted from home since we moved into our tiny, dark (and thankfully temporary) basement apartment. Why? Because it’s just not that nice.

What IS nice is our patio. Somehow we never manage to eat out there, maybe from lack of chairs, or maybe because of the mosquitos. Or maybe because dinner is chaotic enough without a change of venue.

I realized this week that there’s no reason I can’t just take my plate out to the patio and take a picture of it. So that’s what I did. 

Pictured at top is an ad-hoc tomato, basil & white bean salad with lemon juice and coarsley grated Parmesan cheese.

Below is our favorite pinch-hit dinner (besides penne alla vodka) pasta with arugula, pepper and pecorino cheese

 Happy Friday!

Many hapi returns

Lemon cakeThis was a special (hapi*) weekend. We had two wedding anniversaries and two birthdays to mark. We celebrated with a big dinner on the lawn by the beach, with lots of food and a real chill atmosphere. And cake, natch.

*There were no ordinary birthday candles, nor were we able to find the right letters to spell “happy” “birthday” “anniversary” or any of the initials of the folks being fetted.

We started the evening with local steamers dug by someone in our group, probably Drew. The young Patriots fans were particularly smitten with the clams.Young Pats fans love steamersThese beautiful paper straws looked so nice with the vegetarian appetizers. Olives and pretty strawsDinner was served buffet-style on a favorite old picnic table, which my mom and I insist on keeping even though it’s literally biodegrading before our eyes.Dinner on a licheny tableWhile one of my kids was napping and the other was out fishing, I revisited an old favorite cake recipe from the Silver Palate Cookbook. I chose glazed lemon cake, because I was not in the mood for chocolate mayonnaise cake and I wanted to use an analog recipe for a change. Lemon cake

• Glazed Lemon Cake •
From the Silver Palate Cookbook

Ingredients
½ pound ( 2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups granulated sugar
3 eggs
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, sifted
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk (it’s ok to use regular milk mixed with 1 teaspoon white vinegar or lemon juice)
2 tightly packed tablespoons grated lemon zest
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Lemon Icing (Recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease a 10-inch tube pan.

Cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs, one at a time, blending well after each addition.

Sift together flour, baking soda and salt. Stir dry ingredients into egg mixture alternately with buttermilk, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Add lemon zest and juice and stir to combine.

Pour batter into prepared tube pan. Set on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes, or until cake pulls away from the sides of the pan and a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.

Cool cake in the pan, set on a rack, for 10 minutes. Remove the cake from the pan and spread icing at once, while cake is still hot.

Lemon Icing
1 pound confectioners’ sugar, sifted
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
3 tightly packed tablespoons grated lemon zest
½ cup fresh lemon juice

Cream sugar and butter together thoroughly. Mix in lemon zest and juice; spread on warm cake.

Sauerkraut to the rescue!

Preparing sauerkraut

You may or may not know this, but I’m no spring chicken. I’m lucky that mostly I feel pretty good in my forties, and that I don’t have grey hair yet. But in the past 8 or so years, I’ve noticed that my stomach really isn’t what it used to be.

I once boasted an iron stomach. Stomach viruses were foreign to me, I could eat week-old food I found in the bottom of my purse and be perfectly fine. But now I get stomach viruses several times a year, and it’s awful. Aw-ful.

So what’s an old-ish person to do? Should I give up gluten, or dairy, or sugar? Break up with coffee, wine and bread? Maybe I should quit my job and join a special milkshake pyramid scheme?

Hah! You know that’s not my style.  Instead, I’m making sauerkraut.

Fermented raw sauerkraut is apparently one of the best sources of edible probiotics there is. It’s cheap and easy to make, it tastes like pickles. It will appeal to your inner science nerd, and it doesn’t require giving up any of the foods that make life worth living, or quitting your job.

I can’t tell you if it works yet because my first batch just ripened a couple of days ago. Let’s just say I’m very optimistic.

I used a recipe from the Kitchn for my first bach.Ripening sauerkraut

 

Cape meals: the one that fell apart

On the 4th of July, we thought it might be nice to have a sit-down dinner, it being a holiday and all.

The day started out well, we planned the meal—a variation on the traditional salmon & peas—we swam, we played, we ate Caprese salad in the Ultra Lounge. Then we sat down to dinner and things fell apart.

It started when we put the little guys at their own table because the big table was all full up (and then some). The pre-schoolers never want to sit and eat anyhow, we figured they could graze and play while we enjoyed a meal.

The little guys did not like it. They did not like it at all. The called the United Nations for Toddlers and all hell broke lose.

I honestly don’t know what happened after that. I just know that we vowed not to have a sit-down dinner with kids for at least another 4 years.

Happy 4th of July!