Saturday, January 29, 2011

Birthday Cake

It was Mike's 41st b-day yesterday, and every year he asks for the same thing...a German chocolate cake.  Well with age he has simplified his requests.   It used to be two cakes, some balloons and maybe a clown if I could manage that.  He LOVES his birthday!  Oh ya...and the cake needs to be homemade.  The last few years his "homemade German chocolate cake" request has been provided thanks to my sister Gabriella.  She loves to bake and is REALLY good at it.  I on the other hand...not so much!  Well dam*** if she isn't off living her dream in Utah...while I'm stuck here having to bake a birthday cake for my husband.  I guess I should be grateful for her absence even though I really miss her...because it's forced me to become a better cook/baker!  Lets just say that I've been a little out of my comfort zone when a holiday pops up on the calender.  The truth is since I've had no other choice but to step up to the challenge...I've learned that I actually...and please don't tell anyone this... like to cook/bake!  I made this delicious "homemade German chocolate cake" for Mike...he was so pleased.  

We just finished the cake for breakfast and it was even better the second time around.  My family is so proud of me for my efforts and successes in trying new things.  So I promise that next time I look at a complicated recipe and say "ya right"...I'll remember that with a little patience anything is possible!  And now, I can make Mike's b-day cake all on my own.  Happy Birthday Mike!!!

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chair Obsession...

I bought a chair from Arhaus a few months ago on clearance.  It was such a good deal I really wished that they had another...I love chairs in a pair.  As it turns out they have a room in the back, that stores all of their clearance floor items that didn't sale in previous sales.  And they just keep marking things down until the merchandise moves.  So when I was "window shopping" the other day...that's when I saw her!  And the price was so good I almost shed a tear.   I defiantly patted myself on the back a few times, discovering that back room and all.  So the chairs are now reunited and enjoying themselves in my living room.

They're a fun addition to my chair family and they will be least by me!  I just couldn't say no to these baby's when they cost me as little as a weeks worth of groceries!

Sunday, January 16, 2011


It has been really cold here in sunny Florida, so I've made chili for my family a lot.  They really like it but I don't want it to wear out it's welcome.  So when I was skimming through one of my favorite food blogs cannelle et vanille I saw a recipe for lentil soup.  I've never cooked anything with lentils, I've had them a few times and liked them, but lentils=food storage and I'd placed them in the category of "end the world" food.  Besides I've always strived for convenience and anything that requires planning and soaking hasn't been on the top of my list.  But with lentils there is no soaking required.  However Aran suggests soaking the lentils for four hours, she says that they cook better and it helps with digestion.  She's the pro, so I followed the recipe only omitting the turnip and chorizo.  I doubled the chicken stalk and lentils so that I could get two meals out of it.  What was the end result you ask?  Delicious...Amazing...Flavorful...Nourishing, really I could go on and on!  Someone needs to be a cheerleader for lentils! They are also really high in protein and fiber and inexpensive.  I am definitely going to put this recipe on my staples list.  Be brave and try it, I hope your family likes it as much as mine did!

Not only are her recipes amazing but the way Aran stylizes and shoots her food is so beautiful.  She truly is an artist.
Lentil and Root Vegetable Soup

Makes 8 servings

3 Tbs olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
1 medium onion, diced
2 carrots, peeled and diced
1 celery stalk, diced
1 turnip, diced
2 parsnips, peeled and diced
1 sweet potato, peeled and diced
¼ red kuri squash, peeled and diced
1 Tbs tomato paste
1 chorizo, sliced
1 qt chicken stock
2 cups water
1 cup French lentils or any other kind you like
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
5 springs of thyme

Rinse the lentils and cover them with water. Let them soak for about 4 hours. It’s not completely necessary but I find that they cook faster and are better for digestion.

In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the garlic, onion, carrot and celery and cook them for about 5 minutes. We don’t want to caramelize them, just sweat them.

Add the tomato paste, chorizo and rest of vegetable and cook them for another 2 minutes. Add the chicken stock, water, thyme, lentils, pepper and salt. Stir and bring this to a boil.

Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pot and let the lentils cook for about 45 minutes until tender. Adjust seasoning to your taste and serve with your favorite gluten-free (or not) bread, cheese toast or plain.

I am so happy that my family is willing to be subjected to taste testing new dishes that I make with the food storage that I am rotating on our shelf.   It makes me feel kinda...thrifty and industrious...resourceful and responsible...but mostly adventurous!

Monday, January 10, 2011

Organizing The Pantry...

For Christmas this year my parents gave our family food storage.  In fact they gave all six of the Sant siblings food storage...which was a generous and useful gift!  My parents have always been two of the most resourceful pair I've known.  Parenting six kids will probably do that to you.  And with the price of food on the rise, my dad in his wisdom thought it a wise thing to stock pile some away for a rainy day!  My parents really know how to rock "provident living."  So as one of my goals this year, I've set out to rotate and utilize my food storage.  I may even learn how to make bread from wheat that I grind myself.  I get a little giddy just thinking about it.  I had no idea that being prepared for a rainy day would bring me so much peace.

 I have six shelves to help keep things organized.  
1. Is for drinks and water.
2. Is for breakfast foods.
3. Is for lunch and dinner.
4. Is for baking supplies.
5. Is for snack foods.
6. Is for whatever.

I bought Italian canning jars for storing bulk ingredients.  They are air tight and clear glass, so I can see what I have and how much.  The brand is Fido, and I first saw them at Sur La Table.  They were available in several sizes.  But I'm to frugal...yes that sounds better than when I saw them at Homegoods and for much less than half the retail price, I had to bring them home.  With some of the food storage sorted and stored I'm thinking I might just pop over to my moms house to learn how she makes her amazing whole wheat bread. I'll let you know if this old dog can learn any baking tricks!