Introducing…Shellfish

A younger Mr. N enjoying Florida’s Gulf

To Miss A that is. We held off on shellfish for both of the kids until they reached the age of three. It’s a highly allergenic food to which we have a family history, but now that she’s nearing her third birthday we’re making the slow introduction of shellfish starting with dad’s stateside pick for the night – Florida.

Dad really wanted to make alligator bites tonight, but unfortunately (Read: Shwoo!), we couldn’t find alligator. So we decided to use this as an opportunity to give Miss A a taste of shellfish – something we dined on quite a bit in the Sunshine State. We wanted a tropical kind of selection too, so we chose Coconut Shrimp with an Orange Dipping Sauce (It’s Florida – we have to incorporate oranges!). The kids, both big fans of Florida even though Miss A’s never been there (except when she pretends she’s flying there in her Nana’s kitchen cabinet), were on hand and excited to help tonight, especially with the dipping.

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A Sweet End to Our Anniversary Meal

I wanted to make something special for our anniversary dessert. I mean how else can you follow Champagne Risotto. Then when I came across a recipe for Fresh Cherry Cheesecake Bars in the July 2011 issue of Cooking Light magazine, I knew I had a winner. Plus I still had bags upon bags of cherries that I had bought when I freaked out that they were going out of stock.

I’ve adapted the recipe quite a bit. For starters, after reading the recipe, the crust sounded an awful lot like a shortbread bar crust. That being the case, I knew I had to use the crust from my new addiction.

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Steel Cooking Together After All These Years

Friday Mike (aka “dad”) and I celebrated our wedding anniversary. It’s been 11 years and two beautiful babies since that day. According to the anniversary lists, steel is the traditional gift this year, but we opted for a sensational dinner for two instead. Do stainless steel utensils count? ;)

When we were planning our meal, we tossed around several of our old favorites – things that Mike used to whip up to impress me. You see, I didn’t cook back then – except for my favorite bowl of pasta which only I seem to like. (To this day I think my dad is afraid to touch any pasta that I’ve made.) Fortunately, I’ve evolved since then and Mike and I have spent lots of date nights in our own kitchen whipping up meals, sipping wine and having great conversations. It’s easily one of our favorite things to do. So this weekend we got the kids to bed early and whipped up one of our favorite celebratory meals – Champagne Risotto with Truffle Oil.

We started with the Arborio rice, chicken stock, vegetable oil and butter. Continue reading

Quest for the Best Banana Bread Numero Cuatro

A few months back we started our quest for the best banana bread. In large part it was due to this recipe. Several years ago when we lived in Minnesota, a good friend brought over her banana bread. At the time it had been years since I had actually had any banana bread. I knew I liked banana bread, but since making it with my dad I had never really been wowed by it. That is until I took a bite of Doree’s banana bread. I was hooked – we were all hooked.

I kept telling Doree that she should sell this stuff to the local coffee shops. It is that good. Throughout our years in Minnesota Doree kept us supplied with this wonderful treat (It came in particularly handy when I was pregnant with Miss A!). After several months away from Minnesota and in our new hometown, I began craving this bread. I was so honored when Doree shared this recipe with us and so excited when it turned out just as good as her’s.

Doree’s banana bread is loaded with bananas, four or five to be exact. We combined the bananas with the other wet ingredients in a large mixing bowl and beat them together. The wet ingredients include eggs, vegetable oil, buttermilk and vanilla. Continue reading

Da Best Dish in Town

It’s funny, when we first started this cooking adventure we thought the school year would be the most challenging in terms of finding time to cook our recipes from around the world. This summer, however, is proving far more difficult what with all of the birthdays, Father’s Day, vacations and anniversary celebrations. But for tonight we’re back on our stateside culinary adventure and Mr. N is taking us to the Land of Lincoln.

The recipe selection was our easiest yet. I mean when you think of Illinois, you think of Chicago, and Chicago is synonymous with deep dish pizza. We certainly have consumed more than our fair share of these delicious pies, especially dad and I who at one point in time ordered these on a weekly basis from our neighborhood pizza joint. However, we’ve never attempted to make one which I think is due in large part to the fact that we love them so much, have so many great places from which to order them, and we really didn’t want to screw this up. But Mr. N picked it, so game on.

For our crust we adapted a cornmeal pizza dough bread recipe for the bread machine. The key to Chicago-style deep dish pizza crust is cornmeal. It has to have cornmeal. We made our crust large enough for a 14″ deep dish pizza pan which we greased with olive oil and sprinkled with cornmeal. Continue reading

A Pineapple Treat for the Dads

I know this is a few days late, but last night was a special night for Mr. N and I. We went to a local cooking school for a “cook with your kid” night. And let me tell you, this wasn’t the typical cook with your kid’s class. No chicken nuggets or pizzas at this school. In fact, we made baby back ribs (using a very similar rub that dad did on Father’s Day), homemade corn bread, Caesar salad with homemade croutons and a semi freddo. It was phenomenal! Mr. N is already talking about how we have to make the semi freddo for the blog, so I think there’s a good chance we’ll be sharing that one soon!

In the meantime, we’ll get back to Father’s Day. After all of that work dad put in on the ribs, the kids and I wanted to make something special for him. We chose a Pineapple Ice Cream treat that dad had pulled from a Cooking Light magazine back in March 2011. We thought it would be a good complement to the ribs (well, ok, I thought that) and what a better time to make it than dad’s special day.

We started with about 2 cups of chopped pineapple, placed the chunks on a foil-lined baking sheet and sprinkled them with brown sugar. Continue reading