Saturday, May 29, 2010

Not to be confused with breakfast in bed...

Breakfast in bed is, in my opinion, highly overrated. Crumbs, frantic whispers, favorite jam forgotten. I know this is putting me in the Breakfast Snob category, but really, if someone wants to give me a special morning treat, I'd really prefer it to be in the form of clearing the table or doing the dishes. And while you're at it, could you also fold that pile of laundry. Most of it's yours anyway.

With breakfast in bed, I feel the love, I really do. But I prefer to handle my own breakfast, thank you.

Anyway, totally unrelated to breakfast in bed is Eggs In A Bed. This was my way of looking at eggs and toast with an eye toward fun, love, and ease. Because the way to a child's heart, I've found, is through a cookie cutter.

First you take 1 piece of bread and toast it. (Skip the toasting if you don't keep your bread in the freezer like I do)

Next, take a cookie cutter that represents your current emotion and cut a piece out of the center of the bread. Reserve the bread shape for a topping at the end.

Then, heat a pan, spray it with Pam, set the bread in,

crack an egg into the center of the bread.

Hurry and beat the egg gently with a fork, making sure to get the bread good and messy.

I like to cover this with a lid to help the top to cook faster.

After a few minutes, flip the egg (in its bread bed) over.

After a few more minutes, turn the egg-in-a-bed out onto a plate. Place the reserved bread shape on top. Sometimes we opt to butter the edges for extra yumminess!

So whenever we're getting bored with regular ol' eggs and toast, we have eggs-in-a-bed. At the table.

Monday, May 17, 2010

What do cloth diapers have to do with my kitchen?

Not much.

Except that cloth diapering was one of my obsessions before I succumbed to my current kitchen vice.

And can you blame me? Look how cute these diapers are!

A friend of mine has an incredibly informative cloth diapering blog and actually published some of my thoughts in the form of a guest post. Check it out, if you are so inclined.

And rejoice with me...

that all four members of the family regularly use the toilet.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Today my favorite color is ... CURRY!

I'm considering the color of curry for whatever painting project may come my way. Bedroom? Kitchen? Patio firepit area? Why limit curry to the spice rack anyway?

What you are about to read is an amazingly simple recipe that I can whip up spontaneously, or when I don't even really feel like cooking. And it's colorful. Beautiful. Aromatic. Tasty.

It makes me wonder why I lost this recipe for about 10 years.

Curried Tofu (or Chicken) with Couscous
(modified from Cooking Light, March 2000)

1 cup water
1 (14 oz) can light coconut milk, divided
1 teaspoon salt, divided
1 cup uncooked couscous (I use 1 box of plain couscous)
2 tablesppons flour
2 tablespoons curry powder
1 tub extra firm tofu, cut into 16 triangles or 24 strips, pressed between 2 towels OR 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into 1/2 inch strips
2 teaspoons vegetable oil
1 cup julienne-cut carrots
1/3 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro (I almost always omit this, as I'm the only one in my house who likes it)

1) I recently discovered how to press the excess water out of the tofu. Doing so helps it to really brown up in the pan and get kinda crispy. About 30 minutes or more before you need to really start making dinner, cut the tofu into triangles or strips. Press it by layering a cutting board, clean dish towel, tofu, another clean dish towel, another cutting board, topped with a heavy skillet. Trust me.

2) About 30 minutes before you want to eat this amazing dish, combine 1/2 teaspoon salt, flour, and curry powder in a bowl. Dredge the tofu or chicken pieces to coat.

3) Heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet (maybe the one that just pressed the water out of the tofu?) over medium-high heat. Add tofu or chicken and cook for about 5 minutes on each side. Tofu will look browned and slightly crispy. Chicken will be moving toward done (no pink in middle!).

4) Meanwhile, combine water, 3/4 cup coconut milk, and 1/2 teaspoon salt in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil. Gradually stir in couscous. Remove from heat, cover and let stand 5 minutes. Fluff with a fork before serving.

5) Back to the skillet, stir in the remaining coconut milk and any flour/curry mixture from step 2. Add carrot and raisins. Reduce heat and simmer for about 7 minutes or until this is looking good and creamy. Stir occasionally. The coconut milk will thicken a bit.

6) Serve the tofu (or chicken) over the couscous. Sprinkle with cilantro.

Isn't there something slightly exciting about serving cooked fruit for dinner?

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"These are the best bran muffins I've ever had!"

That's what your friends and relations will be saying when they try these super-easy bran muffins.

They're healthy. They're inexpensive. They're easy. They're tasty. They're easy. They're versatile. Did I mention they're easy?

But my favorite feature of these bran muffins is that you can keep the whole uncooked bowl of batter in the fridge for a few weeks, just baking a few at a time. That way, yes, even you can have freshly baked muffins every morning. Thanks to Emily P. for passing this recipe along to me about 6 years ago!

Here's the recipe:

Bran Muffins (warning: this recipe makes about 3 dozen muffins)

1 (17.5 oz) box of bran flakes
3 cups sugar (I sometimes reduce this to 2 or 2.5 cups)
5 cups flour
1 teaspoon salt
5 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup oil
4 eggs, beaten
1 quart buttermilk

Mix the dry ingredients in a VERY large bowl.

Just when you think you can't possibly add anything else to this bowl, add the eggs, oil, and buttermilk.

Stir just until moistened. Refrigerate overnight or for several hours. This makes the cereal flakes get less flaky. The whole thing will be thick and, honestly, not very appealing. Just wait.

When you are ready to bake up these muffins, you may add chocolate chips, raisins, nuts, or even a mashed banana to the potion of the batter that you plan to bake. I like to simply sprinkle a few chocolate chips on top.

Bake in muffins tins at 400 degrees for 15 - 18 minutes.

The recipe claims the extra batter can be stored in the fridge for 6 - 8 weeks. In my house, the batter never goes more than 10 days without being eaten, so I've never tested this claim.

I guess I'm not very good at saying '"no" to bran and smiles.