A Busy Kitchen

While we don’t post nearly as often as we used to, our kitchens by no means have slowed down. We’ve been making new and old recipes pretty regularly now. Sometimes the kids are on-hand to help, but most of the time they have other things keeping them busy. homework

While I’m usually at the sink, stove or counter, the kids are doing their homework, coloring, or just talking with me about their day. When Mike is home, he’ll be in the kitchen with me, helping me chop vegetables or putting dishes away. We have one cat, Chipper, that likes to sit at the stool on the other side of the counter or at the kitchen window so that he can supervise everyone, especially his little brother Hobbs. He much prefers to observe him from above. chipper

As for Hobbs, he’s either running through the kitchen chasing toys, nipping at my toes and whining to be picked up, or curled up in a little ball on the rug in the center of my work area. I’m fairly certain he’s going to cause me to have accident one of these days. However, more often than not, he’s climbing things he’s not supposed to and having to repeatedly be set back on the floor. He is awful cute though. Hobbs

We haven’t made too many international dishes lately; although we do have plans for a new recipe next weekend. I have, however, been teaching Mr. N some kitchen basics. He’s old enough now to learn how to operate the stove, oven and microwave. I’ve even had him make a few meals for he and Miss A all by himself. I just walk him through step-by-step. So far we’ve tackled pasta, shrimp, roasted chickpeas and homemade pizza. We, of course, have had to start with his favorite foods! LEGOS

It’s been fun to teach him and spend this time with him. It gives us a few minutes in his busy day that are just ours. I think he enjoys it too. At first he wasn’t too thrilled to have to learn these things, but once I explained to him that someday he might want to cook a special meal for a special girl, he was much more on board. He’s growing up so much! Fortunately for me, those days are still a ways off (whew!), and the only girl he’s cooking for right now is his little sister. And I have to say, she was very impressed that Mr. N made her dinner. She adores him and loves anything he does for her, unless of course he’s made her mad that day, in which case he’s best just steering clear of her six-year old wrath. sibling rivalry

So, the kitchen, it’s still the center of our ever-changing universe. And until Miss A and I get that next international recipe rolling, I thought I’d share with you a dish that Mike and I ate last week. It’s definitely a warm, comforting fall dish loaded with fresh and inviting flavors. It’s an Acorn Squash stuffed with Lemon & Ginger Risotto. Stuffed Acorn Squash

You can find the recipe here: Lemon Ginger Risotto with Acorn Squash

I roasted the acorn squash while I prepared the risotto. Once both dishes were done, I scooped the risotto into the squash for serving. squash and risotto

The sharp, fresh taste of the lemon and ginger were a great complement for the nutty flavor of the squash. Mike and I both gave the dish 3 spoons. lemon ginger risotto with acorn squash

We topped the risotto with toasted walnuts. We didn’t use any Parmesan or cream as we were trying to keep it healthy, but either would be a nice addition as well. Fortunately we made enough risotto to stuff two more squash later in the week. Lemon & Ginger Risotto

The leftover risotto heated well, but this time we tweaked the recipe a bit and added some sauteed spinach to the risotto as well as some mild Italian sausage. We enjoyed this version as much as the first. The spinach added a little lemony bitterness to the dish that to me just completed it perfectly. acorn squash

The kids, as many of you know, eat many things, and often many exotic or unusual things. Squash, however, is not one of them. Try as I might, they do not like the sweetness or the texture of the vegetable. In all fairness, I didn’t either until I was in my 20’s, so there’s still hope. Until then, there’s more for Mike and I to enjoy. Acorn Squash Stuffed with Lemon & Ginger Risotto

We’ll be back in a bit with Miss A’s international dish. It’s a yeast-based recipe, so goodness knows how we’ll fare. Fortunately, Miss A is better at cooking with yeast than I am, so our odds are better with her in the kitchen. Until then, enjoy your changing seasons and have a great Halloween! More soon. Cheers!

Baker’s Dozen

For those of you new to this blog, our mission is to cook recipes from different countries around the world. We try to stick to traditional recipes or popular recipes for the most part. It’s been a great way for us to try new foods and learn about different cultures. My favorite part about our journey is that the kids are fully involved. They pick the countries, cook with us and of course provide their “spoon ratings” to the dish. It’s been a great experience for all four of us and we’ve learned so much – especially the kids, but us grown-ups too.

But, as you may have noticed, things get a little off-focus in the summer – and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We have birthdays, anniversaries and vacations all of which we celebrate to the fullest. It’s a little taste of our family’s culture and traditions if you will. So this week, I’m putting our vacation post and French recipes on hold because Mike is whisking me away for the weekend. This week we celebrated 13 wonderful years together – a full baker’s dozen. 13 years

Not to worry though, I won’t leave you without a bit of deliciousness. We were fortunate enough to find fresh morels at the farmer’s market this week. Instantly we knew what we were going to make for our anniversary dinner. morels

A morel risotto. We love our risottos and we especially love an earthy, savory risotto. This recipe did not disappoint. fresh morel risotto

It had that umami type flavor – at least for us. The morels are similar to a truffle. They are earthy, meaty, mushroom-y, but slightly sweeter than truffles. risotto

It was just the flavors we were hoping for and made for a fabulous anniversary dinner. morel and shiitake risotto

Needless to say, it was four spoons for both Mike and I. We cooked and served this one after the kids went to bed. ūüôā So, if you’re lucky enough to get your hands on some fresh morels, take advantage. They certainly live up to the hype and deliver an amazing flavor. fresh morels risotto dinner

Print this recipe: Morel Risotto

But if morels and mushrooms or risottos aren’t your thing, since Mike and I are off to Michigan I thought I’d share a few delicious recipes from the Great Lakes State. Enjoy and see you next week for our regular programming (or regular summer programming anyway).

Cherry Apricot Crisp

Cherry Apricot Crisp

Peach Blueberry Crisp

Peach Blueberry Crisp

Salmon over Spinach with Cherry Sauce

Salmon over Spinach with Cherry Sauce

Cherry Cheesecake

Cherry Cheesecake

A Few of Our Favorite Things

As you know, Mike and I recently celebrated our 12th anniversary. We enjoyed  a wonderful dinner out (which reminds me we need to try to create that appetizer recipe) and whipped up a special dinner at home. When we have date nights at home there are two types of cuisine that dominate the scene – sushi and Italian. The sushi is usually ordered from our favorite local restaurant, but sometimes made at home, and the Italian dishes although varied are always homemade.

Now usually when we prepare a date night meal it’s typically something that the kids aren’t too thrilled about eating, so we serve the kids one of their favorites (pizza, chicken nuggets, waffles, etc.) earlier in the evening. This time, however, we figured given their love of seafood we’d introduce them to Seafood Risotto. Continue reading

Another Maine Course

We’ve already talked about how inexpensive the live lobsters in Down East Maine were, especially when compared to prices in the Midwest. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we made yet another lobster dish on our summer vacation; and since this weekend was the unofficial end of summer, we’re taking another look back at our delicious memories.

Toward the end of our week in Maine we wanted to fix up something a little more elegant for the grown-ups. While the kids really enjoyed all the lobster, they wanted a break. I guess it was too much of a good thing for them, not however for Mike and I who would never tire of lobster. So while the kids dined on some pizza, Mike and I worked on our Lobster Risotto.

I’ve got to give credit where credit is due – this meal was, for the most part, courtesy of my dear hubby. He’s our resident risotto chef. It’s one of his favorite things to make and I’m happy to sit back and enjoy the fruits of his labor. I did, however help with the lobster preparation this particular evening. Until now, Mr. N and Mike had boiled our lobsters, but I was finally ready to give one a shot. I have to say – I understand why Mr. N threw his first one in the pot. While I didn’t throw it, I sure was tempted. It’s a bit intimidating. Continue reading

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? ūüėČ

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

Much Better than Ribbie and Roobarb

Many thanks to ChefMom¬†for giving me a second turn at the controls.¬† She was a tough sell, but since she’s off schmoozing for work I’m in for the night.¬† I may not be¬†as practiced a writer/blogger as mom, but I am an economist, which means I know a bit about the misuse of statistics. Note the steady uptick in blog traffic following my one and only post. (Mom is lovingly rolling her eyes. ūüėČ )

Ribbie and Roobarb

Today’s recipe is Strawberry and Rhubarb Risotto, adapted from Cooking Light,¬†May 2010;¬†and I’m happy to report it was much better than the ex-White Sox Mascots Ribbie¬†and Roobarb. Wikipedia notes: “Fans openly mocked Ribbie¬†and Roobarb, with even children gleefully attacking them.” Readers should feel free to mock the White Sox, but I don’t think anyone will be mocking this rhubarb recipe.

Continue reading