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Sunday, July 31, 2011

Veggie Lentil Loaf

Need a recipe for Meatless Monday?  It's not just meatless but vegan and gluten-free to boot!

A couple of months back I kept running into recipes for vegetarian versions of meatloaf.  They all sounded so delicious but the ingredients weren't practical for me.  Egg replacers, textured vegetable proteins, nutritional yeast...I don't have a problem with any of these items, I just wouldn't use them again in the immediate future.  And being as frugal as I am, I couldn't justify these purchases for one recipe.

But alas! The April/May issue of Kiwi included a recipe for veggie lentil loaf.  Not only were the ingredients "everyday" foods, but things I had in my own refrigerator and pantry.  And it called for French lentils.  I love lentils, but those lovely little lentils are nothing like their khaki cousins.  They're tiny and speckled, keep their shape and are firmer, and have much, much more flavor.  I changed a couple of things, but mainly, it's the same recipe.

Veggie Lentil Loaf

2 1/2 cups French lentils, rinsed and picked over
2 tbsp olive oil, plus more for greasing the pan
1 large yellow onion
2 green bell peppers, seeded and diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp plus 1 tsp cumin
1/4 cup tahini
zest and juice of 1 lemon
2/3 cup white rice flour
salt and pepper
1/4 cup vegan barbecue sauce (I highly recommend Annie's Naturals Organic Smoky Maple      BBQ Sauce)

1.  Place the lentils in a medium saucepan, and fill the pot with enough water to cover the lentils by 2 to 3 inches.  Cover, bring to a boil, and simmer for 25 minutes or until the lentils are tender.

2.  While the lentils cook, prepare the vegetables.  In a large skillet, warm the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onions and sauté 5 to 7 minutes, or until soft and translucent.  Add the peppers and cook 5 minutes more.  Add the garlic and cumin, and cook 1 minute more.

3. Transfer the vegetables to a food processor and pulse until very finely chopped.  Place in a large bowl and set aside. 

4.  Add the cooked lentils, tahini, and lemon zest and juice to a food processor and process until mostly smooth.

5.  Add the lentil mixture to the vegetables and stir to combine.  Fold in the rice flour and season the mixture with salt and pepper to taste.

6. Lightly grease two 9-by-5-inch loaf pans and spoon the mixture into it.  Use a spatula to smooth the top.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 40 minutes, or until the top of the loaf is just beginning to brown.

7. Remove the loaf from the oven and spread the barbecue sauce over the top.  Bake for another 15 minutes at 400 degrees, then allow the lentil loaf to sit for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

The Verdict: And the cheese stands alone.  I thought it was super and my husband and son thought it was Torture in a Loaf Pan.

They didn't hate it that much, but nor were they jumping for joy.  In their defense, I guess lentils aren't everyone's bag.  Favorite foods are often described as moist, juicy, succulent...and a lentil can't ever snag one of those adjectives.  Even the fancy French ones are dry.  And no matter how many vegetables and spices you add, or how much you whir the ingredients around in a blender, they don't magically become meat.  Which is a mean slight of hand trick to meat lovers.

But let's ignore them, shall we?

The original recipe calls for a single loaf pan.  Unless I fell asleep at the stove, which is entirely possible in my new baby state, this recipe makes a humongous amount of lentil mixture.  No worries as it freezes well.  It also called for ketchup instead of barbecue sauce.  Meh.  I thought, because lentils aren't quite as tasty as ground meat, it called for a little something extra.  But if you prefer ketchup, knock your socks off.

Now, speaking of this recipe making a boat load of lentil mixture--you are faced with a bit of a conundrum if you don't have a food processor and use a blender.  Yes, for all the cooking I do, I don't have a food processor.  Crazy, right?  But if you're a poor soul like myself, you'll have to blend your foods in batches.  Lots of batches. 

If you're a safe cook, the two items that might seem a little outre are rice flour and tahini.  Whole Foods generally sells rice flour by the pound, so you could potentially buy just a bit if you have one near you.  Otherwise, regular white flour would work, I imagine.  It just wouldn't be gluten-free anymore.  If you were to buy a larger amount, you can use the rice flour in rice pudding.  It's how my husband makes it and now that I write it, I'll have to get that recipe for you all.  As for tahini, it's great to have on hand to make homemade hummus.  There is nothing easier or more delicious than homemade hummus.  Substituting it might be a bit tricky; it's a bit like nut butters (almond, cashew) but if you don't have tahini, you probably don't have nut butters laying around.  Peanut butter is a possibility, but peanuts are fairly strong.  I can't guarantee how much it would change the taste.

If you're a fan of lentils and enjoy lots of vegetables, I think you'd love this recipe.  If you're feeding it to serious carnivores, don't even try to sell it as meatloaf.  It's nothing like meatloaf.  And even your honesty might not convert the meat lover.  Don't tell me you weren't warned.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Italian Sausage and Squash Soup

There really is something to this decluttering thing, isn't there?

I was going through a massive pile of papers on our computer desk, trying to see what I could toss, when I came across a whole cache of recipes.  Not just recipes, but recipes I made during my baby's newborn months that I never had time to share with you all.  This means that, unfortunately, most of them don't have pictures.  (But if I make these recipes again, I'll edit these posts and add pictures.) 

The first recipe I found--Italian sausage and squash soup from Cuisine--was lovely, easy enough to make, and perfect for freezing.

Italian Sausage and Squash Soup

1 lb bulk Italian sausage
2 tbsp olive oil, divided
1 1/2 cups diced onion
2 tbsp minced garlic
1 1/2 lbs butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into 1-in chunks
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes
2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 cup diced red bell pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp ground dried sage
1 tsp sugar
2 cups packed baby spinach
3 tbsp brandy
   salt and pepper to taste

1.  Brown the sausage in 1 tbsp oil in a skillet over medium-high heat until cooked through.  Drain on a paper towel-lined plate; set aside.

2.  Sweat onion and garlic in remaining oil in a large pot over medium heat until soft, 5 minutes.  Increase heat to medium-high, add squash and pepper flakes, and sauté 5 minutes.

3.  Stir in broth and water, bring to a boil, and simmer until squash is very soft.  If using frozen squash in a bag, just add squash, broth and water to the pot and bring to a boil.

4.  Purée soup with a handheld blender (or in batches in a standard blender), then add bell pepper, cream, sage, and sugar; simmer until bell pepper is tender, about 5 minutes.  Stir in spinach, brandy and sausage, and simmer until spinach wilts and sausage is heated through, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.

The Verdict:  This soup is amaaaazing.

The flavors and mouth-feel of this soup are wonderful.  Puréed butternut squash with cream is so velvety, the sugar and onions are slightly sweet, and the sausage and red pepper flakes give the soup just enough spice.  And adding brandy to foods is always a win; it's both hot and sweet with a little hint of wood.  In other words, there's lots of good stuff going on in this soup.  It's also so thick, it's nearly a stew.

I was really curious to see how my 3-year-old would react to it.  The taste doesn't scream vegetable and the color could easily be from cheese.  He had also helped me to pick out the red bell pepper, a vegetable up until the last couple of weeks he was friendly with.  He took a bite of the soup and looked skeptical; he knew someone was pulling the wool over his eyes.  But he ate nearly half the bowl before announcing that he didn't like it.  Since it wasn't an all-out visceral response followed by a dinner battle, I think it's worth trying again with him.

This would be a perfect fall food, especially with squash picked up from a farmer's market.  Serve it alongside some thick biscuits and butter and you've got yourself cozy in a bowl.  Yum.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Buffalo Ginger Stir Fry

A couple of weeks ago, we had some family come over for a barbecue.  Before they arrived, my husband went to the supermarket to pick up a couple of things and had texted me to make sure we had enough meat.  We did, but I didn't see the text in time, so he came home with a buffalo sirloin steak, just under a pound that went immediately into the freezer.

Now, I've been known to menu plan, get busy, and let meat go bad.  Not often, but often enough that my husband tends to keep a close eye on stray foods.  The buffalo steak was no exception.  Nearly every day I was reminded that it was there.  And every day I reminded him that it was safe in the freezer.  Yet I knew that he would sleep better at night after it became part of a meal.  But what can you do with one steak?

In my previous life, i.e. my life before children, this would have been an easy question to answer.  Meat should be an accompaniment to foods, not the star of the show.  And a good way to do that is with a stir fry.  Then enter Mr. Finicky, our 3-year-old, who eats meat like a little blond T-Rex and can see microscopic bits of green from across the room.  Oh boy, this might prove to be difficult.  So instead of wasting my time with too many vegetables, I made a stir fry with edamame and bok choy.  I knew he'd eat the edamame and I figured I'd give the bok choy a shot.  You can substitute the vegetables with anything you like.

Buffalo Ginger Stir Fry

3/4 cup beef broth
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp ginger
1 tsp minced garlic
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsp vegetable oil, separated
1 lb buffalo steak, cut into small, thin strips
1/2 bunch bok choy, chopped
1/2 pkg frozen edamame, cooked according to package directions
1 tbsp cornstarch
1/2 cup water
rice or noodles to serve with

1. Combine the broth, honey, ginger, garlic and oil in a sealable container and shake vigorously, then set aside. 

2.  Heat one teaspoon of the vegetable oil in a wok then sauté buffalo until cooked through, about 4 minutes, then set aside.

3.  Heat the remaining vegetable oil and sauté the bok choy until greens wilt, about 2 minutes.  You may wish to remove the greens and let the whites of the bok choy sauté until they become more tender, approximately an additional 4 minutes.  Add cooked edamame and sauce.

4.  Once sauce is simmering, combine cornstarch and water, mix well, and add to the wok.  Cook until the sauce thickens, about 2 minutes.  Serve over rice or noodles.

The Verdict: Good but not great.

As I guessed, my son ate everything except the bok choy which he refused to even try.  (So much for my "you must try at least one bite" rule.)  He had no complaints.

My husband and I didn't have any serious complaints either, other than buffalo is the wrong meat for this dish.  I'm not a fan of stir fried beef, period, as I think it makes the meat too tough.  But I liked the sauce and the combination of veggies.  I would have preferred it with chicken or tofu.  My husband felt that buffalo was an unorthodox meat for this kind of dish.  He felt that the flavor difference from beef was the wrong combination.  (I don't find there's much of a difference in taste, per se.  I feel like buffalo is just a "better" version of beef.)

So could I have found a better use of that buffalo?  Probably.  Honestly, the best use would have been to buy a second steak and eat it Amir (my preschooler dinosaur) style.  Grilled medium, paired with mashed potatoes.  Sometimes simple is better.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Shrimp and Feta Pizza

I love to cook.  That's pretty obvious because of this blog, right?  But at the risk of going all Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, sometimes cooking for a picky 3-year-old can be a drag.  I think the most disappointing part is that while I haven't submitted my application for traveling food freak should the Weird Foods host up and quit, I'm a fairly adventurous eater.  So when my son started solid foods, I made my own baby food so that he could experience good cuisine at an early age.

How on earth did I end up with a child whose culinary daring doesn't wander far beyond edamame and salmon?

I'm probably grumpy because dinner, aside from Mr. Finicky's exclamations of "I don't like...!" fifty-seven times during the meal, was fairly disastrous.  We love homemade pizza in our house, so it was par for the course for me to make my own pizza dough in my bread maker.  But a crying baby and high humidity created a finished dough ball that was more ectoplasm than pizza.  This was remedied with a mad dash to Whole Foods for pizza dough.  (I ended up getting their multigrain dough and it's fantastic, by the way.)  And my need for Hooked on Phonics created the second dinner debacle: overlooking the word "grilled" in the recipe.  We have a community grill at our condo, but the hurdles to grilling more than steak are limitless. 

So what happened?  I'll share with you the recipe I made, not what I was supposed to make.

Shrimp and Feta Pizza 

3/4 lb medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 onion, sliced into rounds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for brushing
1/2 tsp dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 lb prepared pizza dough at room temperature
1 cup cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1. Move oven rack to lowest level in the oven and preheat to 500 degrees F.  Toss shrimp and onion in a bowl with olive oil, oregano and salt and pepper.

2.  Stretch pizza dough onto a pizza pan and brush the outer crust with olive oil.  Bake in the heated oven for 5 minutes.  Meanwhile, cook shrimp and onions in a skillet sprayed with cooking spray over medium-high heat until the shrimp begin to turn pink.

3.  Remove crust from the oven and top with shrimp, onions, tomatoes and feta.  Return to the oven and cook for an additional 10 to 15 minutes, or until crust is golden brown.  Transfer to a cutting board and cut into pieces.

The Verdict: Adults loved it.  Child dissected it like it was a high school biology experiment.

My son didn't like the grape tomatoes nor the onions; in other words, he didn't eat any of the vegetables.  Quel surprise.  He was also a little leery of the feta cheese.  He did, however, eat every bit of shrimp and crust given to him. 

As you can see in the picture, if it weren't for the tomatoes, this pizza would be pretty boring to the eye.  This is one place where the grilled vs. oven-cooked differences comes in.  The grilled pizza is has lovely little charred bits on the crust and the shrimp; the oven-baked pizza is largely white.  And because I didn't grill it, I can only guess about the next part and that is the sogginess factor.  Pizza, especially when it's homemade, runs the risk of being soggy.  It's in part because most of us don't have a pizza oven (but Lord, how I wish to have an outdoor brick oven someday!) that heats up to blazing temperatures, but it's also expertly stretching the dough and topping the pizza. 

Shrimp tends to let out a lot of moisture as it cooks, and of course, feta cheese is a high-moisture cheese.  In order not to end up with a soggy middle, drain the shrimp and dab with a paper towel after you cook it.  And squeeze out your feta before crumbling. 

Besides being too soft in the middle, the taste was fantastic.  It smells delicious as it cooks, too.  The oregano is slightly lemony, making it a perfect herb to pair with shrimp.  The feta gives the pizza a nice, salty tang and, when the tomatoes are added in, a great Mediterranean flair. 

Too bad the little critic didn't like it as much as we did.  But I'll keep trying.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Beer-Braised Chicken

I have been absolutely dying to share this recipe with everybody.

I found this recipe for Beer-Braised Chicken when I was at the end of my pregnancy, right around the time that I became too exhausted to blog.  I'm pretty sure that it came from Food Network Magazine but I can't remember now.  But I can tell you that the half page I ripped out from where ever is tattered and covered in oil spatter.  And after the birth of my second son, when the majority of what we were eating came from previously frozen foods, I still found the time to make this every couple of weeks. 

Beer-Braised Chicken

1/4 lb slab or thick-cut bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
8 skinless, boneless chicken thighs (about 2 1/2 lbs)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
All purpose flour, for dredging
1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 12-oz bottle beer (preferably brown ale)
1 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
1/2 lb small red-skinned new potatoes, halved
2 tbsp whole-grain mustard
2 tbsp packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp thyme (or 4 springs fresh)
3 tbsp chopped fresh parsley

1. Heat a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the bacon and cook until browned, about 5 minutes.  Remove with a slotted spoon and transfer to a paper-towel-lined plate.

2.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour, shaking off excess.  Add the olive oil to the drippings in the pot.  Add the chicken in batches and cook over medium-high heat until golden on the bottom, 6 to 7 minutes, then flip to sear on the other side, about 1 minute.

3.  Add the beer, onions, potatoes, mustard, sugar, thyme and 1 cup water to the pot and stir, making sure the chicken is fully submerged.  Simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.  Discard thyme if using fresh and stir in bacon and parsley.

The Verdict:  This is one of my top five all-time favorite recipes.  Love, love, love it.

The whole family is in agreement that this is a great, flavorful home-cooked meal.  There's the rich and malty taste of the beer paired with the sweetness of the brown sugar and onions, mixed with the grainy flavor of the mustard.  So many deep flavors going on in this dish, all the while not being overly fussy.  And speaking of fussy, the preschooler will eat this dish every time I make it.

I always use turkey bacon in all of my cooking and this recipe is no exception.  It works just fine. 

This dish is great when paired with a nice crusty bread or a crisp salad.

I'm a new mom, so time is of the essence.  While this dish isn't ridiculously time consuming, it's also not a toss together and serve dish either.  Cooking the bacon, as well as dredging the chicken in flour and browning it, takes time.  So if you don't have at least 45 minutes to put into it, wait until a weekend to make it.  But make sure you do--this one is a keeper.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Carrot Soup

Well, you aren't going to believe it, but it's another crock pot recipe.

Carrot soup seemed like the perfect thing for Meatless Monday.  And while I generally complain about crock pot recipes, this one from Family Circle didn't worry me.  My tired refrain is always too wet, too mushy but this is soup.  It's supposed to be wet and mushy, right?  No, I had bigger worries.  Mainly that I was gearing up to serve a large bowl of orange liquid to my picky 3-year-old.

He loves raw carrots and sometimes he'll enjoy cooked ones.  And he loves soup.  But carrot soup?  Hmmm.

Carrot Soup

1 medium onion, sliced
2 large cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
1 1/2 lbs carrots, peeled trimmed and cut into 3-inch pieces
1 box (32-oz) vegetable broth
2 tbsp brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp ground ginger
2 tbsp heavy cream
1/4 tsp salt
3 tbsp instant potato granules (for a thicker soup, if desired)

1. Scatter onion and garlic over bottom of slow cooker bowl.  Top with carrots.  Add vegetable broth and two cups of water.

2. Cover slow cooker and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8 hours.

3.  Uncover and stir in brown sugar, ginger and heavy cream, salt and instant potato granules, if using.  With a blender, an immersion blender or food processor, carefully puree until desired consistency is reached.

4. Transfer soup to bowls.  If desired, garnish with cashews and/or fresh cilantro.

The Verdict:  And the critic I feared most took a giant temper tantrum moments before dinner and never ate.  Sigh.

So let's move onto the verdict from the adult diners who ate between moments of familial insanity.  My husband and I both liked the soup, however, the blog will go on as we haven't blessed this the only food we'll eat for the rest of our lives.  In fact, while it was good, it wasn't great.  It lacked something.  More ginger for extra zing?  A little cumin for some kick?  More cream to smooth out the texture?  Not sure.  It was just a little too safe for my liking. 

I am definitely no expert on vegan cooking, but it's my guess that this dish could go vegan quite easily.  In lieu of the cream, a substitution of coconut milk or silken tofu could be added.  And shazam, no animal products.

This makes a pretty large portion of soup.  You can read this to mean that we'll be eating it again for dinner this week and the little guy will have to give his two cents eventually.  I'm thinking about selling it as bunny soup or something equally silly.  He's pretty sharp though; the fatuous food monikers don't really work with him.  We'll just have to wait and see. 

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Tuscan Summer Stew

If any of you are regular readers of my blog, you know about my relationship with my slow cooker.  So many people sing the praises of their crock pot: they can't live without it, it's so convenient, food is so juicy from it, etc. 

I try.  I try so hard to be a disciple of crock pottery, but again and again, I fail to feel the love.  What seems like 9 times out of 10 the recipe turns out too wet, or too stringy, or too gloppy, or just...yucky.  The apogee of irritation was the time I had not one but two slow cookers going, making a big batch of coq au vin.  It was delicious, but not because of the slow cooker.  It was for the 90,000,000 steps I had to take afterward to turn chicken soup into classic French stew. 

So when I saw this recipe for Tuscan Summer Stew with its happy little green beans and succulent chunks of sausage, my heart fell when I learned it was a crock pot recipe.  Should I even bother?  Will this turn into another gloppy pot o' water?  Could I try to use the basic recipe idea and make it in a Dutch oven?  Damn you, Family Circle* magazine, August 2011 issue!Oh, the indecision was killing me.  (OK, it really wasn't.) 

(* And yes, I now have a subscription to Family Circle.  A second child has seriously cramped my cool factor.)

In the end, I decided to dig out my adversary and see what happened.

Tuscan Summer Stew

1 package (20 oz) sweet Italian turkey sausage
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and cut into 2" pieces
2 lbs tomatoes, cored, seeded and cut into 1" chunks
1  tsp chopped fresh rosemary
1/4 cup white balsamic vinegar
2 ears corn, kernels cut from cob (2 cups)
1 tbsp instant polenta
   Fresh basil to garnish (optional)

3/4 tsp salt
1 cup polenta
2 tbsp grated Parmesan cheese

1.  For the stew: Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add sausages and brown on all sides, 4 minutes.  Transfer to a slow cooker.

2.  Top sausages with green beans, tomatoes, and chopped rosemary.  Whisk balsamic together with 3/4 cup water.  Pour into slow cooker.  Cover and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8 hours.

3.  For the polenta:  Just before slow cooker is finished, bring 2 cups water and the salt to a boil.  While whisking, add 1 cup instant polenta in a steady stream.  Continue to cook, whisking, for 5 minutes.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.

4.  Uncover slow cooker.  Carefully remove sausage to cutting board.  Stir corn kernels and 1 tablespoon instant polenta into slow cooker.  Cover.  Slice sausages and stir into stew.  Serve stew over polenta; garnish with fresh basil, if desired.

The Verdict:  Hold onto your hats, folks, because you aren't going to believe what I have to say. 

I liked this recipe.  I liked it a lot.

When the cook time was nearly over, I dutifully cooked the polenta as well as added the tablespoon into the crock pot.  At that moment, I was rather skeptical because, per the usual, the contents were very soupy.  But the added corn and polenta seemed to thicken it just enough, and in this instance, the broth was a wonderful accompaniment to the cooked polenta. 

I am a big fan of balsamic vinegar.  I love the syrupy bite that it brings to foods.  I was clueless as to what white balsamic vinegar is, though, and didn't really care to investigate the matter beyond a quick Google search.  White balsamic vinegar, apparently, is milder and (not surprising) is a lighter color than its cousin, therefore not staining foods.  I'm going to surmise that it means the difference is slight.  If you, like me, have the holy cow gigantic jug of balsamic vinegar from Trader Joes, don't feel the need to run out and buy white balsamic vinegar just for this recipe. 

If I were to make this again, I would definitely reduce the cook times.  They seemed a bit long and, after actually making it, really was.  Your fresh green beans lose their crispness and the sausages that you "carefully remove" don't really need a trip to the cutting board as they fall apart with the nudge of a spoon.  I don't think it ruined the recipe, but it would have been more pleasant if it were a little less soft. 

Speaking of the sausage, this recipe could easily be made vegetarian by using a soy sausage or even leaving the sausage out all together and adding a little fennel seed and sage. 

But before I can stamp this as a success, I do have to give voice to the other members of my family who ate this as well.  My three-year-old has changed very little in the past three months of my absence.  While he ate every speck of sausage on his plate and even ate a wandering tomato bite, the polenta was met with disdain.  His first good natured bite was quickly spit out.  The second, which I nearly lost my breath with arguments and begging, also joined the first bite as he let it slide off his tongue and back into his plate.  My poor husband probably wanted to do the same with his polenta, but of course, he ate an hour after us.  Polenta, my friends, is not a good sit-and-wait food.  It becomes a gelatinous mass that does nothing for the food it is accompanying it.  Perhaps my husband just really didn't like the dish, but I feel like the cold polenta really biased his review.  He told me he'd give it three out of five stars.   

Kinaymans, yet was shot down by the male contingent of eaters.  Bummer.

The Kitchen Has Re-Opened!

My apologies for leaving those of you who follow my blog hungry.  But for those of you who know me personally, the reason for my absence is pretty obvious: a little over three months ago, we welcomed a beautiful baby boy to our family. 

It's been a hard transition from one to two children.  Despite trying to ready myself for it, there was no way I could have appreciated the juggling act I'd have to master.  And that's just the juggling of the two kids; I'm not even talking about throwing the rest of life into the mix.  One aspect of life is obviously feeding my family, but before you think we were all starving for all these months, please know that we ate well.  This blog was a life saver as I used it to revisit the recipes that we all loved, that could be easily doubled and froze well.  And so before my son was born, I spent many hours in the kitchen preparing chilis, lasagnas, soups and stews so that I could focus my time on my children. 

Lately I've been making two batch meals a week to add to our dwindling supply.  That way, I can shake up the menu a bit, as well as leave space to try new (never frozen?) recipes.  It's also summer time, and at least once a week we like to eat a meal of farmer's market vegetables along with something on the grill, like salmon.  And now that I'm slowly learning new routines--and if you have kids, you know that this will include things like "having a shower at least every other day"--I'm making my way back into the kitchen.  And the computer. 

So it's my hope that everyone can have Dinner at the Kinaymans on a more regular basis.  I've missed blogging for everyone and I hope you've missed the recipes.

Afiyet olsun!