Monday, January 17, 2011

Recipe #2: Lentil Soup

In a burst of desire to eat a bit healthier, we started flipping through my "exercise plan" book which also has a section on nutrition. I told Brad to pick some recipes that he would be interested in and I'd see what I could do. Well, he decided that lentil soup might be interesting and the search was on. A quick internet search turned up a recipe by Giada de Laurentis of tv fame and we decided that she probably knew what lentil soup should taste like. And you know what? That was a great bet to make because this soup is tasty! Enjoy!

Lentil Soup

6 servings

2 T olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

1 medium onion, chopped

2 carrots, peeled and chopped

2 celery stalks, chopped

2 garlic cloves, chopped

Salt and freshly ground pepper

1 (14 1/2 oz) can diced tomataoes

1 lb lentils (approx. 1 1/4 cups)

11 cups low-salt chicken broth

4 to 6 fresh thyme sprigs (can also use 2-3 tsp dried thyme)

2/3 cup dried elbow pasta

1 C shredded parmesan


Heat the oil in a heavy large pot over medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery. Add the garlic, salt, and pepper and saute until all the vegetables are tender, about 5 to 8 minutes. Add the tomatoes with their juices. Simmer until the juices evaporate a little and the tomatoes break down, stirring occasionally, about 8 minutes. Add the lentils and mix to coat. Add the broth and stir. Add the thyme sprigs. Bring to a boil over high heat. Cover and simmer over low heat until the lentils are almost tender, about 30 minutes.

Stir in the pasta. Simmer until the pasta is tender but still firm to the bite, about 8 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, to taste.

Ladle the soup into bowls. Sprinkle with the Parmesan, drizzle with olive oil, and serve.

Rating: 4 out of 5 ladles (please note that Brad was loathe to rate it higher due to its failure to include meat, even though we scarfed it down to the last lentil...LOL!)

Allergens: Onions, Garlic, Wheat, Milk

I'm not sure how you get around the onions and garlic, but if you need to avoid wheat, you can easily substitute rice or quinoa pasta. If you have to avoid milk, you could skip the parmesan or substitute with a mozzarella dairy-free cheese.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Recipe #1: Beef Bourguignon

I figured that I would pick something truly off the map for me to bring in the New Year. And that would be the famous Beef Bourguignon...a dish that I can barely pronounce (due to taking Spanish and not French in high school) and certainly not spell (for the same reason)! LOL! However, I am oh so glad that I tried this one out because it was TASTY! And besides, you get to feel like a "real" cool when you cook with wine and who doesn't love that?;-) So here goes!

Beef Bourguignon


2.2 lbs chuck steak
4 1/2 oz bacon
12 pearl onions
2 oz butter
1.1 lbs carrots
Freshly prepared bouquet garni:
-1 sprig of thyme
-1/4 bay leaf
-2 sticks of celery
-4 sprigs of parsley
1 tbsp flour
1 tbsp tomato concentrate
1 liter 9 (1 3/4 pt) good red wine
2 cloves of garlic

Ask your butcher to cut the meat into egg-sized cubes.
Remember to take the meat out of the fridge at least 1/2 hour before use. Remove the rind and dice the bacon.
Peel the onions but leave them whole.
Melt the butter in a cocotte, then add the onions and the bacon and let them brown for 2 to 3 minutes, stirring regularly with a wooden spoon. Season the meat with salt and ground pepper, then add to the casserole dish and brown on each side.
While the meat is browning, peel the carrots, rinse them quickly under running water and cut them into 5 cm (2") strips before adding them to the casserole.
Carefully wash the parsley and the celery. Remove the stringy parts of the celery and then tie together the thyme, the bay leaf, the parsley and the celery to make your bouquet garni.
Add to the casserole dish.
Brown all the ingredients for approx. 30 minutes, then remove the meat, putting it aside in a warm place.
Add the flour to the cocotte and stir well with a wooden spoon. As soon as it changes color, add the tomato concentrate and stir again. Add the red wine little by little, thinning down the sauce as it thickens and stirring all the time. Season using a pepper mill. Add the two cloves of garlic after having peeled and crushed them. Continue stirring with the wooden spoon.
Once you have obtained a smooth sauce, return the meat to the cocotte, cover and leave to simmer for approximately 2 1/2 hours over low heat.
15 minutes before the end of cooking, heat the plates, and possibly a serving dish if you prefer not to take the cocotte to the table (I'll just admit that I didn't go this far;-)

I served it with mashed potatoes and let's just say, there were NOT many leftovers!

Rating: 4 out of 5 ladles
*This was a result of the need for more practice, not the recipe:-)

Allergens: wheat, milk, beef, onions, garlic
*Could substitute a different thickening agent such as cornstarch or tapioca flour for wheat and dairy free substitute for the butter.

Expanding Our Culinary Horizons 2011

As my "fun" New Years resolution this year, I've decided to try out one new recipe each week. We will then rate it and the top contenders will be compiled at the end of the year. The impetus for this particular resolution actually came from a few different sources. First, I got some very fun, new toys for Christmas. A cast iron, enamel covered dutch oven and a cast iron skillet. Oh yeah, those have opened up some new avenues! The second is that Rusty had even MORE allergies added a few months ago that have, sadly, torpedoed most of the recipes I've spent the last couple of years collecting for him. Just for the record, he is now allergic to the following: wheat, eggs, dairy, soy, beef, peanuts, black beans, rice, onions, and garlic. I obviously needed more of a challenge;-)

These recipes are not going to necessarily follow any sort of pattern. It's basically just whatever I want to try out in any given week! They may be breakfast, lunch/dinner or dessert and may be recipes that just Brad and I can eat or "allergy friendly" stuff that Rusty can eat. Due to the fact that I have any number of friends and family members with some or more of the same allergy problems that Rusty has, I am going to include the allergen information for each recipe. Hopefully, this will provide some new ideas for others too!

Enjoy and let me know what you think!:-)

Monday, October 19, 2009

And then they learn to talk...

You know, I remember that not too long ago I had frequent thoughts of how great it would be when the Schnitz would finally start talking. I thought I would share some snippets from the last few days so that I could explore how that's working out for me...mostly good, some obnoxious, and those that make it all worthwhile;-)

Saturday as we're on our way to the car to drop the Schnitz at KidsTown and take ourselves to game night with our Sunday school class:

Us: "What a great day! The football games were awesome...we're actually #1 in Fantasty Football, the weather is gorgeous and we get a night out! It is a GREAT day!"

Schnitz: (in very Eeyore-esque fashion) "It's NOT a great day! Sun's too bright, it's too hot, football is NOT a good idea!" Hmmm...having any trouble understanding his thoughts on the matter?;-)

This morning as he's using the potty:

"Poop in your pullup says, 'Don't clap your hands'"

Yes, this WAS before coffee and for the life of me I couldn't figure out what an appropriate response to that would be??

Fast forward to this afternoon, after approximately 10 minutes of quiet during which I thought he had finally fallen asleep for his nap. As I'm sitting at the table indulging in the idea that I might actually get some work done, he walks down the stairs:

Schnitz: "I'm done taking my nap."

Me: "What nap? You've been quiet for all of 10 minutes; you never took a nap."

Schnitz: (very matter of factly) "That's because I like to play and THAT'S why you shouldn't take me back upstairs." Then follows a stream of things that, quite honestly, I stopped listening to because I was busy pondering how much easier it was to put him down for a nap before he was mobile! I was then jolted out of my reverie by, "You just need to talk to me!!" LOL! Tell me how you really feel!

But, I have to end this by sharing the best thing I heard all day (especially after we had a bit of a rough afternoon) as I carried him up the stairs to his bed:

"Mama, you're my favorite friend."

Tell me that wouldn't melt a heart of stone:-)

Friday, September 4, 2009

Rocky Mountain High

So once again, a critical mass of opinion has mandated that I stop procrastinating and get SOMETHING new posted on here:-) Now, in my defense, my camera stopped functioning at the beginning of July and this served to apparently freeze my abilities to even somewhat keep up with this blog, but that is an excuse and I'm sure beneath me SO moving on... This has been a busy, busy summer for the Atwell clan. I plan to share all of the highlights, but am going to do so out of order, mainly due to the aforementioned malfunctioning camera. Being fortunate enough to live near a popular get-away destination, Rusty and I (and for a few days, Brad) were lucky enough to spend a week up in Estes Park, CO with my parents. I've been there more times that I can count, but never more than a day or two at a time. So when the opportunity presented itself, I jumped on the bandwagon gladly!:-) Needless to say, the grandparents were pretty happy to get to spend an entire week with the schnitz and I was happy to be able to accomodate them! The week was spent relaxing, playing cards, reading books, spending time with family and friends and even getting in a few rounds of golf! Oh and I even got to spend a very pleasant evening going to dinner with my wonderful hubby! (Aren't grandparents great?:-)

Nevermind that he spent the week in the midst of God's masterpiece of the Rocky Mountains, the schnitz's favorite part of the week was the GO KARTS! Waiting patiently here with Papa (who liked it just as much:-)

How well do they know kiddos? There were TWO steering wheels in each car. Guess who thought he was doing the driving?;-)

He couldn't WAIT to go on the big slides and Ms. Dawn was kind enough to accommodate him!

"I'm gonna drive a motorcycle when I get bigger!" I hear this a lot!

Watching them make some yummy fudge in Mama's favorite candy store (they make THE best caramel good that I'm willing to risk getting sticky...LOL!)

Mom and Mrs. Lockhart...we were so glad to get a chance to see she and Dawn while we were there.

Mrs. Lockhart, Mom, Dawn and the schnitz with his ever-present water bottle.

Looking down on Estes Park from the gondola that didn't look nearly as high from the bottom! The things I'll do for my child;-)

You don't think he enjoys spending time with his Mimi and Papa, do you??


Hanging out with Ashton. He really does like the blondes!:-)

So glad that Aunt Ruth was able to come and hang out with us for a few hours!

The schnitz was kind enough to hang out with his mama on the back porch of the hotel on a beautiful afternoon. He's very good company!

Ok, so there are chipmunks ALL over the place up there and I know they're very used to people. But, it STILL shocked me when this little guy came up and stood on the schnitz's shoe! So cute!

My handsome husband during our "golf date". Isn't this just the coolest shot?

Beautiful day for golf and we had a GREAT time (we won't talk about the score;-)
Can't wait to go back...thanks Mom and Dad for having us along!

**If you're wondering why the pictures look a bit different than usual...I had to resort to using the camera on my phone...desperate times called for desperate measures!:-)**

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Field Trip #2 of 2009: Garden of the Gods

Ok, so this particular field trip was actually a couple of weeks ago and I'm once again establishing my reputation as blog-slacker. But, better late than never, I continue to maintain!

Honestly, I'm so very happy that we did this one. Garden of the Gods was amazingly beautiful and the schnitz and I had a great time! We hiked around for a couple of hours, enjoying our surroundings and then went ahead and left when the clouds started rolling in. Stopped by to see my friend Marcie, a friend and roommate from Tech, where we ate our lunch and chatted for a bit. She was in the process of moving and so we left before the schnitz got packed in her truck:-) From there, we headed north to Monument and stopped to see yet another college friend and roommate, Sandy. What can I say? I believe in efficiency! If you're passing through someone's town...I figure you should stop and say "hi". It's the only reasonable thing to do. If you don't subscribe to this particular school of thought, you should probably let me know. You just might find me on your doorstep on one of my trips;-)

Needless to say, we had a very full and very enjoyable day! Hope you enjoy the pictures!

And we'll end with yet more proof that the schnitz NEVER takes a good picture with his wonder I'm always on the other side of the camera!:-)

Really and truly, if we lived closer we would be hiking here every weekend! What a beautiful place!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I can't tell you how long I've been waiting for this...

Any of you who know me at all, know that I am a BIG lover of books and have been since I can remember. The fact that my husband is ALSO a big lover of books means that our house is full of them. To the tune of six bookshelves and growing. To be perfectly honest, I can't think of a single member of our immediate family that doesn't have at least one book going at all times.

Due to this fact, it shouldn't be hard for you to imagine that one of the things that I have MOST looked forward to in this parenting adventure, is the chance to pass along this love of books to the schnitz. Now, it didn't start out in such a promising fashion. Until about a year or so ago, his response to our reading to him was at best to ignore us, at worst, to throw the book across the room. I wasn't too interested in making him hate reading at the tender age of one and so I decided to be patient and just let him come to the decision that they were worth his time (this is the way he's done everything from walking to talking, so why would this be different?). Well, that phase has passed and he has developed more than a substantial interest...yay! And as excited as I have been about that, I've been waiting for the day that he would be ready for the books that I remember loving when I was little. Since my memory doesn't extend back to my very earliest days, I've had to have a bit of patience in this area. However, tonight we took a trip to Borders and I FINALLY got to indulge myself! I just had to share the books we got with y'all because I have a feeling that it's not just Brad and I who will be taking a stroll down memory lane with these! Enjoy!
And can I just say how happy it made me, in my heart, that he wanted us to read "The Poky Little Puppy" to him three times before bed? He just made my day!:-)