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Category Archives: Sunday Supper

A Week of Winter Compost

This time of year I wish I could be cozied up by a roaring fire, thumbing through garden catalogues, dreaming about spring gardens, but the reality is that I’m living every suburban mom’s life: balancing cooking, cleaning, carting kids, and, in my case, composting.

In other words, life is busy, and I love it all, but spare time is sometimes in short supply.  Therefore, I present a week’s worth of winter compost buckets.  Maybe it’s the gloomy grey skies and chilly temps outside, but I think all these scraps are pretty, in a quirky kind of way…

I'm not one for avocados in the winter, but they perfectly complemented the Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos as well as the Black Bean and Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos.  We like choices.

I’m not one for avocados in the winter, but they perfectly complemented the Roasted Beer and Lime Cauliflower Tacos as well as the Black Bean and Roasted Butternut Squash Tacos. Sometimes we need choices and these were two great ones.

roast chicken brussels lemon pound cake 2.21.15

Some things become classic for a reason, and this meal is our quintessential Sunday Supper: roast chicken, mashed potatoes, shallot gravy and pan-roasted Brussels sprouts. I make it often, but it definitely tastes best eaten on Sunday.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What's Sunday Supper without dessert?  Especially during Lent?  My middle boy loves lemon pound cake so we have a thin slice for dinner and the rest goes back to the dorm to fuel a huge college appetite.

This is the bottom of the bucket above…What’s Sunday Supper without dessert? Especially during Lent? My middle boy loves lemon pound cake (five eggs) so we each had a thin slice for dinner and the rest went back to the dorm to fuel a huge college appetite. Aren’t the spent stock blossoms from my bouquets around the house pretty even when they are destined for compost?

If your regular old meatball recipe has gotten stale, steal this idea: add a few ounces of chopped prosciutto to the meat mixture, bake, add sauce and spaghetti and get ready to swoon.  The best part?  My Whole Foods sells "cooking prosciutto" for just $10/pound.

If your regular old meatball recipe has gotten stale, steal this idea: add a few ounces of chopped prosciutto to the meat mixture, bake, add sauce and spaghetti and get ready to swoon. The best part? My Whole Foods sells “cooking prosciutto” for just $10/pound and it’s really just the dried ends of the pricey “good stuff”.  Here’s a recipe to try if you are intrigued.

Meal for a friend 2.24.15

One of the things I love about the South is the way friends and neighbors look out for each other with the gift of food. In this bucket you can imagine a meal lovingly prepared for an inspiring family who is coping with cancer complications and mitochondrial disease. I felt blessed to provide this meal and offered the best comfort food I know: two lemon roasted chickens, garlic mashed potatoes, pan-roasted green beans, all homemade Caesar salad, and my favorite weeknight dessert, Banana Poppyseed Cake.

 

Kalad Sale Parm Roasted Cauliflower 2.26.15

I’m pretty sure I could eat this meal once or twice a week if my family would concur: Kale Quinoa Salad (with dates, onions, and bacon instead of almonds) and Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower. It’s healthy, filling, and really yummy.

 

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Composting Valentine’s Day

Confession: I love all the hearts and flowers and corny cards associated with Valentine’s Day.  Instead of thinking of it as a money-making holiday created by the candy and greeting card industry, I much prefer to remember it as the Catholic feast of Saint Valentine, a Roman priest martyred for marrying Christian couples.

I’ve got plush heart pillows on my soafs and pretty hearts hanging in my windows and of course a sparkly red wreath on my door.  Of course I’ve already made heart sprinkled sugar cookies and spent an entire episode of Downton Abby (just started season two) putting candy in mini bags with pretty red ribbons for my girl’s ballet pals.

So I made these lovely little Linzer tarts (tortes?) for my loved ones this weekend.  They are essentially a crisp almond meal cookie filled with raspberry jam.  I’ve got my own secret recipe but this one is similar. There is minimal compost from cookies naturally, but they are so pretty I had to share.

Valentines Linzer Tarts

The cookie-making bucket looked like this.

Brussels, Potatoes & Steak

What you can see (clockwise from the top):

  • brussels sprouts trimmings (really questionable quality sadly)
  • shallot skins & stem ends
  • eggs (for the cookies!)
  • carrot sticks (left over from lunchbox)
  • blueberries (left over from lunchbox)
  • In addition to the Linzer tart cookies, I also made a some quickly seared hangar steaks with this sauce paired with roasted brussels sprouts and fingerling potatoes.

Here is the bucket for both Valentine’s Day family dinner and Sunday Supper.

Valentines Scallops & Sunday Supper Fittatta

What you can see (clockwise from the top):

  • lots of egg shells
  • lemon halves
  • bits of wilted salad greens
  • tea bag
  • orange peelsshallot skins & stem ends
  • espresso grounds
  • WhatI made with all of that:

Valentine’s Family Dinner

  • Scallops with Fresh Linguine
  • Caesar Salad with homemade croutons
  • Sunday Supper
  • Rich Vanilla Pudding with Strawberries & Lizer Tarts

My middle boy was a bit under the weather so our intended meal with friends and family was cancelled.  A sensible idea but when I cancelled dinner I didn’t make the meal… which resulted in hungry mouths at  seven wondering “what’s for dinner?”

frittatta eggshells 2.15

Frittatta to the rescue.  These never used to be in my rotation since I made my fair share of quiche and scrambled eggs, but quiche needs a crust and scrambed eggs really screams breakfast.  Enter the frittatta.  Made in my ten-inch cast iron pan with eggs, milk and whatever bits and pieces I have on hand, this meal is fast, fresh and super easy.

The Sunday frittatta included smoked salmon and shallots sauteed  in butter and some    almost old mozzerella.  A quick simmer on the stove and a minute under the broiler and dinner was served along with a quick Caesar spin-off, some sesame bagels and more Linzer tarts of course.

Hope your heart was happy this weekend.

 

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Composting Love

It’s no surprise that I’m a big fan of Sunday supper, where everyone can come together to share the day, rehash the week and enjoy a delicious meal.  It’s something I try to serve up each week, regardless of who is sitting around the dining room table, but with kids in all directions and one out of the house, those times when our immediate family is all together are infrequent and all the more precious when they happen. This week, due to college schedules, we got to enjoy Saturday breakfast instead.

The day dawned rainy, which was just what my family needed.  Not just a balmy drizzle but a cool, pouring rain, satisfactorily hammering against the windows.  The kids were snug in their respective beds, my hubby was snoozing on the sofa with a dog, and I was enjoying one of those great moments, an unexpected gift of grace.  How lovely to have my all kids home, asleep on a rainy morning, with no immediate pressing schedule (time enough for that later) and me awake to enjoy it.  The only way to improve the morning would be a great breakfast to start the day.  After a bit of quiet time, I started frying bacon.

It had the intended effect.  My husband opened his eyes and we shared a “wow, life is pretty great” moment.  I popped some cinnamon rolls in the oven.  (I had this in the fridge; not homemade but not bad.)  Kids started coming downstairs and flopping on sofas.  I started scrambling eggs with shallots and spinach and arugula.  Orange juice and cups of tea, our definition of cozy, were consumed.  A little sweet cantaloupe.

We didn’t all sit at once and we didn’t all actually eat, but we shared the morning and our love of rainy days and a whole lot of unspoken love.  And then it was time to pack up my oldest and get him out the door for a two week trip.  The spell was effectively broken, but my middle boy loaned his brother his own nicely tailored blazer for the conference and THAT was a silent act of love.  His sister folded all his tee shirts.  I put a warm loaf of homemade bread in hands as he climbed into his car and we stood in the drizzle waving goodbye.  I don’t know what everyone was thinking, but I was thanking God for those little fleeting pockets of time.  And for the inspiration to start frying bacon.

Here’s the breakfast bucket…

Saturday Breakfast 7.19

What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • cantaloupe seeds (I normally don’t compost seeds but these local melons were so delicious I wouldn’t mind some volunteer plants in my spring garden)
  • cantaloupe rinds
  • lots and lots of eggshells, a dozen to be exact
  • shallot skins and stem ends (hiding under all those eggs)
  • a whole lot of love (hard to see but you know it’s there)

I wonder if all that love will compost … actually, I think it’s the ingredient that really makes our compost great.

 

 
 

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Father’s Day Weekend Fun

Perfect weather set the stage for a perfectly enjoyable Father’s Day Weekend … Saturday yard work, dinners on the deck, and … not much else.  Delightful.

I keep missing the perfect light in which to photograph the vegetable garden, but it’s coming along quite well.   I’m crossing my fingers and hope it’s not a curse to repeat that my neighbor mentioned the garden “looks better than it ever has.”  We might be able to harvest green beans and cucumbers this week.  All the afternoon rain showers have been a garden blessing.

Here’s a peek at the child-sized handful of ripening blueberries we greedily picked from our three recently planted bushes.  Although they are barely knee high now, local blueberry experts (i.e. friends and neighbors) assure me they are going to be producing more berries than we can possibly eat.  I dearly hope that is true.  I also dearly hope the neighborhood deer do not discover these delicacies planted in plain view.  Shhhh!

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Did you ever rush to plant something in the fall to give it a head start, prep the soil well, baby it against the cold, and rejoice in the spring to find it happily growing away?  Have you also done this and realized you left out a giant important step?  Why do you ask?  We carved out a new planting bed in the front yard (perfect full sun area for some as yet unplanted columnar apple trees) and put in some lovely foundation shrubs but utterly forgot to put down a weed barrier to prevent unsightly Bermuda grass from reclaiming the land.  What a mess!  Picture my lovingly tended front lawn (thanks to my devoted son), nicely shaped trees, tasteful annuals (pink pentas, blue salvia, and white vinca), and the new bed choked with quickly spreading Bermuda.  Acrgh!  With the help of a family friend, my husband tackled the thankless job of raking back the mulch, putting down weed barrier, and re-mulching.  Much better now.  Alas, no photos.  That is what your imagination is for.

All that work killed our appetite for cooking (besides, I had already whipped up cheese waffles for late breakfast).  Thanking my stars that my family loves a good carb-fest, I pulled out all the stops for this calorie laden extravaganza.

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Do you need a close up of that bread?

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It actually was as delicious as it looked.  I’ll share the recipe because I found it by accident while I was searching Pinterest for something I’ve now forgotten.  I was out of sun dried tomatoes so I added extra garlic, butter and cheese.  No one complained.

All we needed to round out the meal was a simple leaf lettuce salad dressed with a simple vinaigrette (a tablespoon of mustard, a whole lemon, juiced, and as much olive oil as you want to take out the pucker, about a third of a cup, salt & pepper),

Drinks were my new favorite, Palomas or grapefruit soda and tequila.  As you can guess I didn’t really measure, but if you’re one of those who do, here’s a recipe.  I didn’t bother with salt and I used a soda from Trader Joe’s.

Compost bucket?  Since it was a lazy weekend I just kept piling, so you can’t really see all the banana skins from the overripe bunch I broke into chunks and froze for smoothies.  Eggs were for waffles, lemon for vinaigrette, watemelon for snacking, and teabags for our summer staple.

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Oh, and for actual Father’s Day, we had a twist to our day, and hence a complication for dinner … but it was actually a gift and we ended up with luscious last-minute lobster roll sandwiches our way: challah hot dog rolls with the tops sliced, buttered, and gently broiled, then filled with chunks of butter-and-lemon laced sweet broiled lobster PLUS chunks of roasted wild Alaskan cod.  The cod makes the sandwich feel decadently full, while the lobster sweetens the cod and tricks the taste buds into thinking you’re eating double the crustacean.  Ours was a happy dad.

Hope your weekend was lovely too.

 

 

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Playing Catch Up

Lots of beautiful buckets, lots of interesting stories … all sidetracked by not enough hours in my busy, super busy days.  So, let’s play catch up and get back on track, shall we?

This gorgeous little bluebird of happiness has been visiting my backyard with great regularity and I hope he (or she) is building a nest somewhere so that lots of pretty little bluebirds will be flying around soon.  Is that not the prettiest color in nature?

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The weather in Atlanta has been fickle: warm one day, literally freezing the next, but on a beautiful Saturday, while my guys spent the day roofing and framing at Habitat For Humanity, I was baking up a gorgeous Meyer Lemon Pound Cake from a favorite old recipe …  fresh chilly were breezes pouring through the open windows and opera was pouring from the radio.  Realizing we need more than just cake for dinner, I also whipped up a last minute Summer Squash Quiche with homemade rye crust (it’s a new flour kick I’m on).  Even the bucket filled with yellow scraps echoes the sunshine.

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Another gorgeous Sunday called for a bit of leisurely yard work (this is Sunday rest in my house) and grilling.  We spent a few hours prepping our back deck for resurfacing, which meant drilling out all the old fasteners.  Hundreds of them.  Naturally my husband was a pro and could zip out a dozen screws in a minute.  Not to be outdone, I gave it a try too and held my own with a much slower work rate but a very satisfactory bucket of nails to show at the end of the afternoon.

Naturally a day in the sunshine called for a meal eaten outdoors.  That go-to meal is grass-fed burgers.  I dressed them up with homemade tomato jam, arugula, avocado and caramelized onions.  Triple yum.  We topped off the leftover Meyer Lemon pound cake with a sweet gingery strawberry sauce that was kind of like this.  Blissfully delicious Sunday Supper with grandparents and good times.

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Here are some shots of the tomato jam production.  It was just so vibrant and smelled so fresh I had to keep snapping away … chopped tomatoes, jalapeños, ginger and spices … very heady stuff.

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When it started cooking down it smelled spicier and sweeter than ever.  I may have tasted it a few too many times.  And burned my tongue for the efforts.  Note to self: bubbling sugary jam is HOT.

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Skip a week and we’ve got double buckets.  Temps dipped back into the twenties and three soccer games made the week fly by like the wind.  We cut as many daffodils as we could carry so the cold did not wilt their lovely little faces and at least all was sunshine inside.  We feasted all week on fresh strawberries and citrus and on Sunday my oldest boy came home for a few days of spring break.  (Family complete.  Life is good!)

I pulled out all the stops with a recipe straight off the cover of this month’s Bon Appetit: Beef Short Rib Pot Pie.  Mine looked just a perfect as their picture.  My only beef (haha) was the crust, which, even though it was too dense for my taste, mopped up the juices perfectly.  With mashed potatoes, carrots and a really tart lemony mixed green salad it was the perfect Sunday Supper.

Dessert was an utterly forgettable Strawberry Milkshake Cake from Pinterest that seduced me with its spring hue.  Plus, I’ve never had or baked a “poke cake”.  Take my advice and just enjoy the pretty picture.  Even though I freshened it up with sweet strawberry puree and whipping cream in lieu of Cool Whip, the artificial preservative taste came shining through.  Not even is it not a keeper, half of that cake is still in my fridge a week later.  **sigh**  If a cake is untouched in my house …

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That brings us to Toss It Tuesday … I cleaned out the produce drawer in the fridge and came up with this sad moldy citrus and a few wrinkled soft old apples.  I tired to think of how I could use them but decided the compost pile would be happy to have them so I chopped them up and tipped them in.

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Have you noticed my lack of eggshells?  Just wait until you see what I’m up to …

In the meantime, I hope the bluebird of happiness is flying around your neck of the woods!

 

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Winner Winner Chicken Dinner

Okay, I’ve never been to Las Vegas but I have watched the movie “21” which must be where I heard that catchy little phrase.  Did you know “winner winner chicken dinner” is from way back in the day when you could get a meal for under two dollars?  Apparently, if you won two bucks in the casino you could treat yourself to a complete chicken dinner.  The things we learn …

Well, I never plan to venture out to the land of neon, but my roasted chicken Sunday supper was most definitely a winner.  A “winner winner” if you will.  Why?  Pastured chicken.  If you’ve never had it then you are missing out and should really try to find some.  It’s just head and shoulders (and wings) above even a good store bought organic chicken, although I use those often.

Late last fall, I bought several pastured chickens and had one big precious bird left in the freezer.  I was saving it for a special occasion … and I think seventy degrees, sunny, and Sunday qualified.   As always with quality food, simple is best.  I simply rubbed the skin with butter, sprinkled it with salt, filled the cavity with some fresh thyme and a cut up lemon and roasted it at 400 degrees.  It was perfection.

Of course Sunday Supper typically means a “meat and three” down here in the thankfully sunny South.  In addition to my classic thyme and sage gravy, I mashed some organic russet potatoes with sautéed baby spinach, caramelized onions, garlic, butter, and light cream.  That’s a keeper recipe!  Also roasted a head of cauliflower drizzled with olive oil and then a big acorn squash cut in quarters with butter and brown sugar.  Here’s my bucket:

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • russet potato peels
  • spent tulip petals & stems
  • cauliflower core & outer leaves
  • garlic paper
  • acorn squash seeds
  • yellow onion skin & stem ends
  • clementine peel
  • spinach leaf
  • hiding underneath are six banana peels, chopped & froze for smoothies & ice cream

Sunday’s dessert, quite possibly my favorite part of any meal, was a choice of exceptionally delicious leftovers including the very healthy but still fantastic cowboy cookies that I had shipped to my college boy or the most amazing chocolate cake you will ever eat, or my version of “leftover” rice pudding.  Since that rice pudding is so simple and foolproof (I think) I’ll share it with you.

Leftover Rice Pudding

  • leftover rice of your choice (brown, basmati, jasmine, just not instant)
  • milk of your choice (I used whole milk, but almond, coconut, etc. work too)
  • sweetener of your choice (honey, maple syrup, evaporated cane juice, brown sugar – I’ve used them all, but would not recommend agave)
  • half and half or light cream or heavy cream if you’d like
  • raisins or other dried fruit, like dried cranberries, cherries, blueberries, apricots…

If your rice is still in the pot in which it was cooked (I make extra rice to make this recipe so I leave it in the pot and refrigerate immediately) break up the grains with a spoon so there are no large chunks.  Smooth out all the rice into a nice layer and add milk to just cover the rice by about an inch.  Place on the burner (I use gas) over medium high heat and bring to a quick boil.  As soon as it boils, turn the heat as low as it will go and simmer until the milk is absorbed.  The lid can be on or off but I usually cover it.  This might take 15 to 30 minutes depending on the rice you used, the amount of heat and how quickly the rice absorbs the milk.

Once the rice is absorbed, check for consistency – taste it!  If you like it the way it is, move to the next step.  If you think it could be softer, add more milk and keep simmering (no need to bring back to boil).  I usually add more milk.  I like mine to be really creamy with a little bit of bite to the rice and a lot of thick milky goodness.

Once the rice has reached your desired consistency, add sweetener to taste (I used evaporated cane juice).  Stir well and add any dried fruit (I used regular old raisins).  You’ll want the fruit to plump up a bit, so add a little bit more milk than you think you need (maybe a quarter to a third of a cup) and simmer another ten minutes or so.  Keep checking and tasting.  When the fruit is the way you like, you can add a splash of cream for richness, and, if you think it needs it, a little bit more sweetener.  All that added milk tends to dilute the original sweetness, so check to make sure.

That’s it.  Cool a bit and eat it warm and soon you’ll be making extra rice all the time for this recipe too.  If you decide to put it in the fridge make sure the rice is a little bit runny as it firms up as it cools.

A final note … you really can’t ruin this recipe.  I put my rice & milk on to simmer with a lid on it and LEFT MY HOUSE.  In the car.  For over an hour.   Honestly, I forgot I had started it.  My husband called and said, “uh, honey, what’s on the stove?”  Whoops.  It was a little sticky with some golden spots (not brown burned spots) when I got home so I added a lot of milk, simmered a bit more and, amazingly, it turned out really delicious.

See what I mean about “winner winner chicken dinner”?

 

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Sunday Supper: Cauliflower Steaks

How many times can I sing the praises of a Sunday meal with family?  Is there anything more satisfying than knowing that one day of the week is dedicated to time spent leisurely preparing a meal, then leisurely enjoying that meal around the table with the people you most love?  For a mom who loves food and a family who appreciates that food (most of the time) I think not.

This Sunday was even more enjoyable than usual with two things to celebrate: my middle boy was accepted to his top college choice (It’s great to be a Florida Gator!) and my oldest boy made a surprise visit home for one day.  Woohoo!  Time to pull out the stops in the kitchen.  In my house food is love.

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What you can see (clockwise top to bottom):

  • cauliflower stem end & leaves
  • kale stems
  • strawberry tops
  • Pink Lady apple peels (organic from local farm and amazing, plus lots more peels underneath)
  • more cauliflower stem ends & leaves
  • banana peel
  • half of a lemon
  • TAZO teabags (underneath)

What I made with all of that:

If you are a cauliflower fan, run, don’t walk, to the nearest grocery and buy a head (or two) so you can make that delicious cauliflower recipe.  I’ve been wanting to try it for weeks and it was everything I expected it would be; rich, creamy and delicate all at the same time.   By now you know I am a recipe tweaker, and this one is no different.  The initial cook time is longer than stated, with at least five minutes per side to begin caramelizing and I used half olive oil/butter combo.  As well, I used a higher milk to water ratio for the puree.  And it was amazing.  Just saying.

For the Roast Pork Loin recipe, I simply subbed dried, freshly ground coriander seed for the rosemary, added some olive oil to make a paste, then rubbed it into the meat and let it sit for about six hours.  I took it out an hour before roasting so that it was not ice cold going into the hot oven, ensuring a more even roast.  It, too, was wonderful.  Dipped into the cauliflower puree, it was memorable.  The side of kale added just the right bitter finish.

Hungry?  Run out and get some cauliflower!

 

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