Thursday, September 29, 2011

In Which I Try to Expand our Palates

Doesn't this just sound like a terrific ambition? I am trying to do two things with my weekly menus. 1. I'm trying to incorporate a meatless meal into every week. And 2. I'm trying to expose the family to new tastes and seasonings.

I went to my new favorite Chef, Lucinda Scala Quinn, for inspiration. She wrote this cookbook, Mad Hungry, that I received for Christmas last year. It's a great cookbook. I love her tips for making meals go further. She would know. She has three sons and she and her husband have raised them in New York City, no less. That cookbook has taught me new recipes as well as techniques for cooking the perfect rice (she's right) and also how to cook a whole chicken effortlessly (by far the most economical cut of chicken).

Anyways, back to meatless meals. I saw on the first page of her website Monday morning this recipe: Pumpkin Vegetable Curry Stew with Cornmeal Fritters.

I thought, "Hey, we don't hate pumpkin or curry. I'll give this one a shot." I put the ingredients on the shopping list and plowed ahead.

I liked it. Mati liked it. That was about it. During our pre-dinner prayer, Erik thanked God for my trying to open us up to new things, because if he was in charge "we'd be having hot dogs every night." Love him.

Erik is not crazy about stews without beef and it was too spicy for Reagan. Next time (if there is a next time) I may decrease the amount of curry. Thank goodness I didn't add any of the chilis! I was going to take a picture of how much stew was left in Erik's bowl, but I think one photo was about all I could manage.

So, it was good. I love that I instantly was able to blow my nose. Is that gross? I love clearing my sinuses with the aid of food. I mean, it's delicious and it serves a purpose. Yes!

I served the stew and the fritters separately, but then I ate the stew with the fritters, putting a little stew on the fritter and then taking a bite. That toned down the stew and also lent some flavor to the fritters.

Overall, I'm really glad I made this. It was way outside of our comfort zone. And to reward Erik's sense of adventure, I'm making his favorite meal tomorrow: Hamburgers with french fries.

I made the following substitutions.

1.) I substituted butternut squash for pumpkin. The pumpkins haven't quite arrived.
2.) I added no chilis. I had thought I would add some cayenne pepper rather than the Scotch Bonnet pepper. But I changed my mind with hand poised over the pot. I'm glad I did. However, I read that the Scotch Bonnet has a fruity taste, which may have added flavor in addition to heat. Might be worth a shot if you have no fear of heat. You can read about Scotch Bonnet peppers here.
3.) The Fritters: I halved the amount of onions. I wish I hadn't. The fried onions would have broken up the cornmeal better.
4.) I did use Coconut Milk. First time I've used this. I think you can substitute water if you don't want to make a special purchase.
5.) I used regular Idaho potatoes rather than try to find a green banana or an Irish potato. So, for the stew there were two potatoes.

I may try and make this once a year, just to keep things interesting around here. It can be so boring...

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

My New Favorite Salad

I do love salad, but I find myself getting into a funk with them. I've got to switch them up every so often, you know?

Anyways, last night's dinner was a home run! I made this Asian BBQ Chicken (one of my favorites and a new staple) and threw it together with a salad and white rice.

Let me go into the salad a little deeper, cause this was the part that I LOVED.

The dressing is from Betty Crocker. I know! Sometimes the best is the original, right?

Here's the recipe:

Sweet-Sour Dressing
1/4 cup vegetable oil (I used Canola.)
2 tbls sugar
2 tbls cider vinager (could use white, I used Apple Cider. I may try Rice Vinager next time.)
1 tbls parsley (I used dried.)
1/2 tsp salt
Dash of pepper
Dash of red pepper sauce

Combine and refrigerate.

The salad was red leaf lettuce, red bell peppers, shaved carrots, green onion and almonds. I had a package of Chicken Ramen, so I melted some butter in a pan and then sprinkled the Chicken seasoning packet over that. Then I broke the noodles and sauted them quickly in the butter.

What I did on my own plate we combine the chicken, the salad and the rice. It was delicious! All the textures with that dressing, truly good eats. And I couldn't wait to have the leftovers today. Everything was great again! My new favorite salad!

In Awe

I must share this with you. My friend, Chandra, hiked the Grand Canyon, rim to rim, in one day. Read and see her pictures here.

Amazing. I'm inspired to at least think about doing this someday.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Submission & Women Running for President

A week ago some ladies I know were appalled at Michele Bachamann saying that she submitted to her husband when he advised her to go to law school. Then they spouted off the "no woman should submit to her husband" rhetoric followed by "I don't think we can elect someone who will be taking orders from her husband." I was offended. Please understand, I do not bring this up to rant against them personally.

I was offended by of their ignorance of the Scriptures.

I know that submission has been used very wrongly in the world by men who do not love their wives as Christ loves the Church. This is very sad because it has distorted the principle of love, selfless, generous love. This is the kind of love involved in submission.

I am not afraid of submission. I was blessed with a great home life and married a very non-controlling man, so I have my background going for me in this area. However, I do have pride, and I am controlling. So while I may not be daily challenged in this area, I do struggle with submitting to Erik in certain situations.

For example, I'm a bit of an over-committed type. I like to try and fit as much as possible into one time frame. When we leave on vacation, I like to run last minute errands, like the post office and the library and perhaps the store for supplies we'll need on our trip and maybe try and squeeze in a play date. This stresses Erik out to no end. I'm an optimist when it comes to time, what can I say? Well, after 10 years of marriage I still think there's nothing wrong with this cram-session and Erik hates it. So, in submission I've learned to say no to get-togethers on the departure day, and run my errands earlier in the week. Of course I'm still working on it.

I know this example is insignificant when compared with the potential Presidential decision to bomb Iran. However, I think the heart is the same.

Submission is all about trust. Can we trust God to do what He wants when our flesh screams out to do it our way? Can we trust that God is doing something in every situation? When we choose His way (what submission is!) we honor Him. Can we do that in all situations?

I, for one, applaud Bachmann's decision to trust her husband with her future. She came out better for it.

Furthermore, I don't see Mr. Bachmann as the interfering type. So when it comes to national security matters I don't think he'll be pulling the strings, exercising his own agenda. If they are in a Godly marriage then he will be praying for his wife, advising her on matters of the home, helping her in whatever capacity she needs. Because you see, the same Bible verse that says a woman should submit to her husband also says "Husbands love your wives as Christ loves the Church."

Okay, I don't have much time to go back over this and edit. Kids are screaming and I've ignored them long enough today! Let me know what you think. Do you think I'm scripturally off base?

Thursday, September 8, 2011

The BEST Taquitos EVER!

Do you love Taquitos? I do. They're perfect. A little tortilla filled with meat. They are great for dipping, great for kids. Crunchy. Yummy. Delicious.

But I've never made them before. I typically buy them from Costco or at restaurants. However, a friend of mine (Erin L.) suggested this recipe from Our Best Bites.


Even the wonderful and palate-discerning Erik liked them, despite the presence of the hated-cilantro. This was a big deal. Cilantro is like a big no-no in the Wilhelmsen house. In fact I never cook with it because he dislikes it so much. Reagan yesterday, while I was chopping it said, "What is that disgusting smell?" So, yeah, the kids are not used to that beautiful aroma. Yet.

Anyways, back to the dinner. Delicious. Too spicy for the kids, though. Next time I'll tone down the chili powder and instead of pepper jack cheese I'll just use cheddar or, for an even better taste, Monterrey jack. Last night I used half-and-half pepper jack and cheddar and it was too spicy for the kids. Also I decreased the cilantro by more than half; I just wanted the hint without overpowering Erik's taste buds.

Erik and I practically inhaled them they were that good. And Erik even took the leftovers for lunch, which is huge because he NEVER takes leftovers.

Don't miss the final step, though. Sprinkle kosher salt on the tops after spraying with cooking spray. It gave the taquitos that I've-got-to-have-just-one-more taste. I love that taste.

So, here's the recipe. I can't recommend it enough. Our Best Bites just might be my new go-to for weeknight meals! And no, I didn't take pictures. I don't do that.