But I’m Not a Housewife!

Domestic Bliss, Eventually

Archive for Cooking

Millet For Breakfast

Hey y’all. I’ve got the sniffles, but the end of the semester is almost here! Two more days of teaching and then I get ready to see my family in California. Apparently there was just an earthquake there last night. Yikes! At least it wasn’t worse than that.

I’m starting a new habit of eating millet for breakfast. It’s a great whole grain and so fast and simple. We cook a large batch on Sunday (it’s so easy, just boil like rice) and keep it in a tupperware in the fridge. For breakfast, I just microwave a bowl full and add a little bit of honey, milk, walnuts, and raisins.

Breakfast Millet

Millet for Breakfast

For those of you who are gluten free (though I’m not sure I believe that’s necessary) there it is a gluten free whole grain!!!

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Recipe: Beet Salad With Kidney Beans and Romaine Lettuce


Beet Salad1

As promised, here is the recipe for the roasted beet salad that my husband and I ate a couple of times for lunch last week. The beets were based on Mark Bittlman’s recipe, which he shares in a video: Beet Salad With Garlic Walnut Sauce, and in and article:  A Divorce for Beets And Goat Cheese .

Bittman’s Recipe:

Time: 1 hour 20 minutes

2 pounds red beets, about 4 large, trimmed of greens

1/4 cup olive oil

6 cloves garlic, peeled

1/2 cup walnuts

2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup freshly squeezed orange juice

Salt and black pepper to taste

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley leaves, for garnish.

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Wash beets well. While still wet, wrap them individually in foil and place on a cookie sheet or roasting pan. Bake beets, undisturbed, for 60 to 90 minutes, until a thin-bladed knife pierces each with little resistance. (They may cook at different rates; remove each one when it is done.)

2. Meanwhile, put oil in a skillet over medium-low heat. When it is warm, add garlic and cook until fragrant and beginning to soften, about 6 minutes. Add walnuts and continue to cook until they begin to color, about another 4 minutes. Let mixture cool slightly and then put it in a small food processor; process until you have a relatively smooth paste. Add orange juice to taste and sprinkle with salt and lots of pepper.

3. After beets have cooled, peel off skins. Slice beets into wedges or cubes and toss with dressing. Taste and adjust seasoning, garnish with parsley and serve.

Yield: 4 servings.

Beet Salad 3

I followed his recipe (without using measurments) until I got to the orange juice part – I had unwittingly drank the last of our orange juice that morning, so I used a splash of white wine vinegar, and some of that fig flavored basalmic vinegar that I used for my Wheat Berry Waldorf Salad the other day. I just kept adding olive oil and the two vinegars until it tasted right and there seemed to be enough of it to cover the beets. Next time I’ll add the walnuts last though, because it turned out a lot more nut-buttery than I would have liked. 

Meanwhile, I was also baking sliced whole wheat pitas with olive oil, salt, and garlic powder. These turned out great. They are nice served warm and chewy, or baked until crisp, like the ones you buy at the store.

To assemble the salad, I mixed up a regular vinaigrette in a cup, with a fork (this contains about 2 parts olive oil to 1 part vinegar, in this case white wine vinegar, salt and pepper or cayenne), and tossed it with the chopped romaine lettuce. Then I added a layer each of kidney beans and beet salad. It may sound like a lot of work for a salad, but I kept the beets in a tupperware and we ate it for lunch several times. I must say, I was pretty proud of myself for throwing this together while my husband was napping, and then for having it ready to assemble the next day when he unexpectedly came home for lunch! Go Jess!

Beet Salad


Please Allow Me to Improvise

Well pat me on the back and call me a Rockstar, I made a kick-ass breakfast this morning:

Wheat Berry Breakfast

My husband has been raving about the merits of wheat berries in the morning and lamenting the fact that I haven’t eaten any of the large Tupperware-full of cooked wheat berries in the fridge. Every morning he has been filling up a large coffee mug full of wheat berries with milk and honey, or with Kefir, and the addition of  raisins and walnuts as the mood strikes, to eat in the car on the way to work. The first time he made them, he made way  too many (which I think everybody does the first time because they swell up so much) and they weren’t cooked quite enough. And because they weren’t cooked enough, they had too strong of a wheat flavor for me. They were chokingly strong – made my throat clench up!

But, he did a second batch and I’ve been meaning for days to make a Waldorf salad with them – like we used to buy prepared at the New Pioneer Co-op in Iowa City. I was already well into the production of the salad, having chopped an apple, a pear, and a stalk of celery, when I realized that all the raisins and walnuts were gone. Bummed, I Googled some Waldorf salad recipes anyway, to see what to mix with mayonaise for the dressing. Hmm, it seemed I would need either lemon juice or apple cider vinegar, neither of which I had. 

This is when I remembered the fancy, fig vinegar I had bought at a gourmet food store once for Tim’s birthday (with a bunch of other stuff, because he loves to cook and try new things, but which he has never used). 

Fig Vinegar

One whiff of it and knew that it would have enough sweetness and interesting flavor to make up for the lack of raisins. I whisked some with mayo, in a cup with a fork, tasted it, and was sold.

Mixing the Dressing

Dressing

It may need improvement, but it’s a pretty darn good salad and I’m proud of myself for not giving up in the kitchen. It’s been awhile since I’ve made anything other than fried egg sandwiches and instant oatmeal for breakfast, or any other meal for that matter! I’m so proud of myself, in fact, that I’ve made a new category for my posts: Courage in the Kitchen.

Below is a taste of what’s to come tomorrow: I’m finally gonna post my review of Happy Housewives.

Bon Appetit!

Bon Appetit!

Blog Confession Number Three: Someday I Hope to Cook Again

I’ve really fallen off the cooking wagon. I guess I’m just incredibly overwhelmed. I’ve been having trouble sleeping at night and I’m having chronic tension headaches. My headaches are confined to the muscles of my scalp – for those of you who aren’t sure if there really are muscles up there, I assure you – they’re there! I suppose this is an improvement over the excruciating jaw that pain I used to get when I let stress overtake me, but it’s still no fun. I think I need a new pillow.

Moving on, I was up in the night again tossing and turning and I felt really overwhelmed by life.

Wait, before I regale you with the thoughts that press on me in the night, let me continue with the original purpose of this post: I want to start cooking again. I’ve found a couple of recipes on new blogs (new to me) that I’m interested in trying. 

Tico Tilapia with Gallo Pinto, by My Sphere of Domesticity ~This one is nice because fish is the only meat I eat, but I need courage to buy it and cook it. It helps to know that others are doing it too.

Cake aux Olives et au Jambon, by Dedene of Soyez le Bienenvenue Chez Moi, in yesterday’s post: How much do I hate housework?, ~ I like this because it’s a quick bread and has olives in it. I’ve been craving olive bread. Don’t eat ham though….

So I’ll be sure and let you know if I ever, ever make these dishes. (Let’s hope so.)

Back to my insomniac worries. It’s always something you know? We’ve gotten two tickets in the past two days because I didn’t realize that my car registration was expired. ARGH! (Now we are cleverly parking the car in back of our house where the cops can’t see it, take that! – We used to park there all the time until we realized that we would rather park on the street and avoid our crummy neighbors, than park in our shared lot.) We already have stupid bills that we shouldn’t even owe, because try as I might, I just can’t NOT get screwed over by phone and cable companies! They hate me! The bills are just growing and growing and I’m not working full time….

But then I decided I’m not going to let this defeated feeling drag me down. One thing I’ve learned in life, that I find hard to remember, is that life is equally horrible and wonderful at the same time all the time. It’s really your choice which side of it to see. 

So I choose to bring my self back up! I choose to believe that life is really very easy! I mean, I get to wake up most days and choose what to do with my day. The whole bill thing is simple, really – start paying them off! Spending money on bills doesn’t have to feel this terrible. I can apply myself and work out a budget, I do have a master’s degree for goodness sake!

And on that note. I don’t have to feel dragged down about the state of my kitchen, or the fact that I don’t cook anymore. I choose to be positive. I’m going to clean and I’m going to cook….someday.

Caramelized Onions and Eggs and Greek Yogurt, Like Heaven

It figures that the day after I sign up for NaBloPoMo, in which bloggers vow to post every day, I would slack off and miss a day. I was on a five day streak, and then yesterday it was soooo beautiful here in Denver, that I spent the day outside with my husband, cooked a lovely supper with him, and then was too tired to remember that I had breakfast pics to post about.

So here they are today, two of my favorite breakfasts:

Fried Eggs With Caramelized Onions

Eggs and Onions

Greek Gods Yogurt With Berries

Yogurt and Berries

I read about the caramelized onions with eggs years ago in Suzanne Somers’ first Cookbook Eat Great, Lose Weight. I’m not anti-carb, but sometimes I go on Carb heavy streaks and I feel I need to eat fewer for awhile.

Yesterday, I knew we’d be eating spaghetti for dinner, so I left the toast out of my breakfast. I sauteed an entire red onion in olive oil and fried up two eggs. I used to eat this with sliced tomatoes on the side, but we got a great deal on grape tomatoes at our local market, so I added them to the pan when the onions were almost done and I was just putting the eggs in the pan. They added a sweet tanginess as a contrast to the caramelized onions. Oh my gosh! My favorite breakfast ever!

Tomatoes, Onions and Eggs

As for the Greek Gods Yogurt, my husband found it the other day and thought it was so good, he texted me about it from work. That night he was eating it again. When I asked him what it tasted like, he said, “Like heaven!” And we laughed and laughed because it sounded so cheesy. But it is true! This yogurt is amazing! It’s not exactly low in fat, but if you eat it instead of ice cream, it’s a very healthy dessert. You could easily serve it on a graham cracker crusts with berries and pass it off to guest as alow-fat cheesecake.

Blueberries and Yogurt

Greek Gods Yogurt

Casey snuck into the yogurt photos. He follows me wherever I go!

The Argentine Hearts of Palm Salad and My Attempt at Tim’s Deconstructed Pesto

Hearts of Palm

I had a wonderful New Year’s Eve in California with some of my best girlfriends, whom I only get to see once a year. We decided to cook dinner before going out. I mentioned the Deconstructed Pesto, since it’s easy and one of the few dishes for which I can think of the ingredients off the top of my head. We also had on hand cans of olives, hearts of palm (a unique and delicious food that I had never eaten before), and artichoke hearts, as well as avocados and tomatoes. My friend, Misty, arranged the beautiful salad you see above based on a salad that her Argentinian father makes, which is composed of just hearts of palm, tomatoes, and olives. Drizzle some good olive oil on top, pepper, and serve.

A couple of suggestions to make the best tasting salad (these things I  know because my husband and I tried to recreate the salad on the night of the oysters, and made several mistakes):

  •  Use grape or cherry tomatoes and keep them whole, the hearts of palm are already tangy and the extra acidity from sliced tomatoes throws of the whole salad.
  • Use good quality whole hearts of palm, not the “salad” or “sliced” style.
  • Add olive oil and pepper, but leave off the salt and vinegar for people to add themselves on their own plate, again, the salad is already salty and tangy, a dash of salt and vinegar tastes good, but the salad should not be left to marinate in them.
  • Finally, for a special night, add artichoke hearts and avocado, as we did on New Year’s Eve. The smoothness of the avocado creates a lovely balance for this tangy salad.

Below is proof that we were indeed cooking:

We were proud that we mangaged all this food preparation despite the fact that this was the amount of wine and port we had for three young women:

A lot of Booze

My mother was given these bottles after a wine tasting the day before, so we had a fun night of tasting $10-25 bottles of wine, mostly Pinot Noir, and $30 Tawny Ports. We hardly made a dent in the bottles and gave them back to my mom the next day.

And finally, a view of our picnic spread:

Supper Spread

Whoops, a noodle is trying to escape.

My Husband Cooks: The Deconstructed Pesto!

I’ve been meaning to post pics of Tim’s Deconstructed Pesto for weeks. When counting my blessings, I note how lucky I am to have a husband who does half of the cooking. One of my favorite of his creations is his Deconstructed Pesto:

The Deconstructed Pesto

Ingredients

  • olive oil
  • tagliatelle, fettuccini, or linguini 
  • cherry tomatos, halved
  • pine nuts, toasted
  • six heads of garlic, roasted*
  • fresh basil, roughly chopped 
  • freshly grated asiago or parmesan cheese
  • freshly cracked pepper

Method

1. Cut off tops of garlic heads and roast them in the oven for 45 mins to an hour. Squeeze out the roasted cloves and keep them whole.

2. Saute the garlic in olive oil for a minute then add chopped tomatoes and chopped basil. The oil will infuse with garlic flavor and the tomatoes will release enough juice to caramelize into a sauce for the noodles. Add salt, pepper, and a bit of grated cheese as desired.

3. Meanwhile cook the noodles in boiling, salted water and toast the pine nuts in a small pan on medium to low heat (don’t let them burn!).

4. When you are happy with the consistency of the sauce, toss in the cooked noodles and toasted pine nuts. 

5. Serve when mixed thoroughly, topped with shredded cheese and cracked pepper.

Eat this with a tossed salad and garlic bread as you wish. Perfect for a night when you want a cozy restaurant meal at home!

*My husband insists that the roasted garlic is the whole point of the dish. You could certainly do with fewer heads of garlic, you could also just mince some garlic and saute it in the olive oil and forget the whole roasting thing. The choice is yours.