Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Because Who Doesn't Want An Excuse to Eat Donuts For Dinner

A few months back, I was flipping through a copy of Rachael Ray Magazine that my mom had left with me, when I found this recipe for Espresso Dusted Beignets. Never in my life had I eaten such a thing, and the picture made them look SO GOOD. Light! Flakey! Sweet! I set it aside thinking that I'd rip the page out and try my hand at this New Orleans fare at some point.  And then I forgot about it, as I have a way of doing.

Not long after that, Tim says to me, "I was flipping through that Rachael Ray Magazine and I saw something that you should make!" And so, we decided to give it a try for Christmas morning. Because, you know, I didn't have enough going on that day and I might as well get up super early to make the dough, let it rise, heat up the oil and on and on and on.  Unfortunately, for all the work, they were kind of...meh. Actually, let's be honest. They were really Meh. Light and flakey they were not. Nor were they sweet. The instant coffee did NOTHING for the flavor, other than make them extremely bitter, and being the type to follow a recipe EXACTLY the first time I make something, there was just not enough powdered sugar to lend any sweetness at all. They were big and bitter.

I was a little put off.

Now here we are, two months later, and it's still with me. I can't try something in the kitchen, have it fail (or even have it be "not good enough") and just leave it.  A quick search of the Food Network website revealed something that should have occurred to me from the start: If you want a good recipe for southern cooking, perhaps you should start with a southerner. Genius!  Enter this recipe from Paula Deen.


They are so yummy. So easy. So not bitter.  I used a little heart shaped cookie cutter (we made them on Valentine's Day) instead of cutting them into squares, and they were just so cute. We plopped them in paper bags! We shook them up! And they came out like little powdered puffy hearts of cuteness and deliciousness. Make them for a brunch. Make them for dessert. Or, heck, make them for dinner like we did!  The only recommendation I would offer is to halve the recipe if you're not cooking for a big crowd. This makes A LOT of beignets. I gave half of the leftovers to my in-laws and I still have a huge ball of dough in the fridge, so you know what that means! Beignet Dinner Number Two coming soon!  This time I think we'll do some in powdered sugar and some in cinnamon sugar. Dip them in some jam or berry syrup and you have the most delicious, home-made jelly donut.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Whatever You Had Planned For Dinner Tonight....Make This Instead

As in many families, the kitchen is the hub of our home. EVERYTHING happens in there. So, just over a year ago when we moved into a lovely new house with a FABULOUS kitchen, I was in Heaven. We'll call it a state-of-the-art gift from the previous owners, shall we? And that's exactly what it is. A gift. Sure, it's lovely for our little family, but it goes further than that because there are ALWAYS more people here than our immediate five.  Whether it's Tim's family (all local), our priests or friends from church, neighbors, or my parents, the kitchen is always full. And this doesn't include holidays or birthdays when we're even more crowded!

Yes, we would be that family on House Hunters who comment on how "this kitchen would be GREAT for entertaining!" But at least for us it would be a valid consideration. That makes it less obnoxious, right?  And we won't even discuss how much more fun it is to play "I have my own food network show" while cooking in a nice big kitchen than it was in the kitchen NOOK that was carved into a corner of our old apartment.

Don't even try to tell me that you don't pretend you have your own Food Network show.

ANYWAY.  Having this new kitchen made cooking so much more fun and opened up a world of opportunities for me to try new things. One day last winter during my monthly Costco Meat Counter Prowl, I decided to buy a package of short ribs for minestrone soup. (Yum. Minestrone soup.) Now, I don't know if you've ever bought short ribs there, but surely you know how it works at Costco. Go big or go home. And so I had to come up with something to do with the rest of those ribs.

Thank you, Chef Google.

This recipe is possibly the easiest, most delicious, and DEFINITELY best smelling thing you could ever possibly do with short ribs. Honestly. Here it is, with my modifications:


  • 1 (28 ounce) can tomato sauce (I used one 14oz can and one 14 oz can diced or stewed tomatoes)
  • 3 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 4 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 tablespoons dried parsley (instead of parsley & thyme, I use 2 1/2 T Herbes de Provence. DO IT THIS WAY.)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1 medium onion, cut into rings
  • 3 pounds beef short ribs 


  1. In a large pan over medium-high heat, stir in tomato sauce, lemon juice, and Worcestershire sauce. Stir in parsley, thyme, bay leaves, brown sugar, salt, and red pepper flakes. Add onions and short ribs, and stir together until the mixture comes to a boil.
  2. Cover, reduce heat to medium low (LOW), and simmer; stirring occasionally and skimming fat from surface, until meat is tender, about 2 1/2 hours. Remove bay leaves before serving.

**DON'T turn up the heat and DON'T brown the meat first. I made that mistake last time. Just trust me. Throw it in raw, cover it with sauce, put the lid on and LEAVE IT ALONE FOR TWO HOURS.**

YOU GUYS. You will love this. The meat falls apart as you remove it from the pot.  Put the extra sauce on the table and pour it over your meat & mashed potatoes. Oh Sweet Heaven.  And! If you have extra sauce (it makes a lot) marinate and bake some chicken in it a few nights later. It's just as delicious.

You know how sometimes you cook dinner, eat, clean up and every thing's done and then you go into the kitchen a while later and the Dinner Smell just smacks you in the face? And you think, "ugh. Dinner." You know that feeling?  With this dinner, when you walk back into the kitchen, you think, "yum. Lavender." Now that's a nice way to end the day.

Friday, February 4, 2011

Friday Afternoon Hodgepodge

Thanks for all of the encouragement on my last post, friends! I can hardly believe it when I look at those two pictures side by side. Never would I have imagined that my body could change so dramatically in just one little month.  I was looking at our wedding photos today, eyeing my smaller self with envy and bound and determined to meet that girl again. That said, I won't say that I want that body back. That body hasn't accomplished what this body has - what I want is the strongest, healthiest this body that I can get. Rumor has it that even once you get back to your pre-baby weight, you often don't fit into your pre-baby clothes. And that's fine.  But it sure will be nice to get rid of those clothes because I don't like the way they fit anymore, rather than because I've given up hope on even trying them on.

It's Friday and I'm tired. But the inlaws are coming over for Waffle Night tonight, which means it's time to head out to the store for some last minute groceries. We have Waffle Night frequently - it started out as our Friday Lenten observance last year.  A nice, filling, meatless dinner that brought the whole family together. Did you know that I make the Best Waffles You've Ever Had? Me either. No one tell Tim's family that my recipe is straight off of the back of the Bisquick box.


A couple of items, for your viewing pleasure:

1.) Maggie linked to this article the other day and it's FANTASTIC. A great read for Catholics and non-Catholics alike. Lots of food for thought.

2.) Have you seen this? A couple of my friends posted it on facebook. It gave me a good chuckle. Go read it now. You need a laugh.

3.) Back to the kindergarten angst for a minute - check out this article on Catholic Schools. Further food for thought. Last night I attended the Kindergarten Info Night at our parish school, which stirred up all kinds of new drama and unsettledness in my heart. Mostly because I just loved it. So. Much.  More on that to come.

Happy weekend, friends. Enjoy the commercials.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

I Kind Of Feel Like Someone Stuck Me In The Dryer.

Have you ever gotten to the point in the 30 Day Shred where it's easier to just do the exercises the hard way rather than doing the modifications?

I have.

Have you ever put on your jeans one morning to find that they're falling off of you, even though you just wore them yesterday? And when you investigate the situation, you realize that for the last couple of weeks you were wearing the next size down without realizing it and that today you just grabbed the wrong pair (the ones you THOUGHT you'd been wearing?)

I have.

Have you ever lost 17.2 pounds in one month?

I have.


....January 3, 2011.....                             ....Feb 3, 2011.....

I am totally in this thing to win it. But please believe me when I say: I've already won.