Tuesday, January 11, 2011

What I Made for Dinner: January 11, 2011

Cream of cauliflower soup with garlic croutons; cinnamon apples.

We have had two snow days so far this week.  Snow days are fun for about twenty minutes.  That's how long the boys want to go sledding before someone (a) gets snow on his face or (b) gets ice crusted under the cuffs of his snow pants or (c) has to pee.  (Twenty minutes is also, coincidentally, how long it takes to dig out the snow gear and bundle them up before they can go outside for Big Snow Fun.)

I bet snow days are great in, like, Telluride.  Even, maybe, in upstate New York, where I lived until I was nine.  If everyone has four wheel drive and is going ice skating or snowshoeing or skiing, then hell yeah, a day off school sounds good.  (I don't know whether they have snow days in those places.)  But here in the great plains, we do not do snow activities.  There are no mountains, of course.  Our ponds are not to be trusted for skating because we have frequent thaws throughout winter.  It doesn't make sense to own snowshoes and the like here--we just don't get enough snow.

Anyway, even if we had those things, yesterday and today would have been too cold to use them.  This afternoon found the boys and me huddled in the basement, wrapped in blankets, watching movies.  When I finally had to unhuddle to fix dinner, all I could think of was:  Hot.  Hot soup.  Hot toast.  Hot apples.

Cinnamon apples are something our nanny, Deanna, came up with to give the boys for after-school snacks.  They are really good!

Cinnamon apples (serves 4-6)
3 apples (Fuji, Gala, or Pink Lady work best), cut into half-inch cubes
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon (and if you want to get fancy, 1/2 tsp ground cardamom, 1/4 tsp grated nutmeg, and a pinch of ground cloves for good measure)
1 Tbsp butter

Combine all the ingredients in a large, microwave safe bowl.  Toss to coat the apples.  Cover and microwave for five minutes on high.  Allow to stand for ten to fifteen minutes, until apples are tender.  Stir and serve.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

What I Made for Dinner: January 9, 2011

Pasta with brussels sprouts and bacon; marinated mushroom salad.

I find recipes in many unusual places.  In this case, it was a 2004 Martha Stewart Living magazine Alex found in the craft bin while we were looking for pictures of green things to cut out and glue onto a bucket.  We are making a green bucket.  It's a Cub Scout project, so we cannot just go and buy a green bucket.  Buying a green bucket would be ridiculous.  Instead we must make one out of a white bucket and many small scraps of green paper.

So I found the recipe because its greenness attracted me.  Not for eating, but for bucket-transforming.

When I announced I was making this dinner, I got a lot of pushback.  "I won't like it!  I don't want it!  Can't you make something else?"  But Martha and I were vindicated:  The big boys ate seconds.  Eli even ate the bacon and the pasta (separated and not touching each other, of course).  It was delicious--much too good for a Cub Scout bucket.

Pasta with Brussels Sprouts and Bacon (serves 6) (adapted from Martha Stewart Living, November 2004)
7 slices low-sodium bacon, cut into large dice
2 tsp minced garlic
half of a large sweet onion, diced
1.25 pounds brussels sprouts, trimmed and halved
1.25 cups chicken stock
1 pound penne
half cup grated parmesan cheese, more for serving
1 Tbsp chopped fresh sage leaves

Bring a large pot of water to boil.  In a large pan over medium heat, cook the bacon, stirring occasionally, until crisp.  Remove bacon with a slotted spoon and drain on paper towels.

If necessary, add oil to bacon fat in pan to equal about 2 tablespoons.  Add garlic, onion, and brussels sprouts.  Saute, stirring, until the onion softens and the sprouts turn light golden brown.  Add chicken stock and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Simmer until most of the liquid has reduced, about ten minutes.

While the sprouts are simmering, cook the pasta.  Reserve one-half cup of cooking water and drain.  Add the pasta and reserved cooking liquid to the pan with the sprouts.  Add cheese, 2 tablespoons oil, sage and bacon; toss to combine.  Serve, passing more parmesan cheese.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What I Made for Dinner: January 4, 2011

Spinach and white bean stew with garlic toast.

I have a cold that has settled, uncomfortably, in my larynx and threatens hourly to move several inches downward and become a real problem.  To its credit, my immune system did spectacular work all through the month of December, so I  suppose I can't really object to its taking some well-deserved time off.

Anyway, I made this stew from Smitten Kitchen (except I used spinach where she used chard) and it helped, a little.