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Sunday, December 26, 2010

Sky Sunday

Well folks, the itty bitty kitchen is officially hi-tech. I am writing to you all ON THE PLANE. Thanks Delta, for the free wi-fi.

Just a brief update to let you all know we've been MIA celebrating Christmas with family, fun, oh, and food. Lots of food. We are en route to California to continue the celebrating.

Never fear, I plan on returning after the holidays with lots of new recipes and gadgets (one involves garlic) to try out.

I leave you with a picture of Matthew and I on Christmas eve, pre-Swedish meatball-induced coma.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Throw it Together Thursday

Yes folks,  I am talking about last Thursday.

We will not be spending Christmas in The World's Smallest Kitchen, as fun as that sounds, and have been trying to clear out our fridge all the while avoiding buying new groceries.

The Contenders:

1 Package of Broccoli
1 Package Cheese Tortellini
3 cloves garlic
1/8 cup alfredo sauce
Parmesan Cheese

The Challenge:

Make dinner.

Ok garlic, play nice.

After the tortellini had cooked, I began to add a little bit of garlic and parmesan cheese to my minimal amounts of alfredo sauce.  As I was doing this Matthew asked, "how are you going to cook the broccoli".  I responded, "well roast it of course".  His response,  "roast it?  You always roast broccoli, you're like obsessed with it."

It was at this point that I began to feel self conscious about my broccoli-cooking habits, and decided to steam it.  Mistake #1.

I tossed it in the sauce, and added some salt and pepper (and some more garlic), I tossed in the pasta. It sure looked pretty.  I thank Costco for the colorful pasta.

Dinner Conversation:

Wife:  "What did you think?"
Husband:  "Well, the broccoli is a little rubbery"
Wife: "That's because I steamed it..."
Husband: "Hmmmm"

Moral of the story/blog post:  In matters of cooking broccoli, never listen to your husband.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Wimpy Wednesday

As stated in my past SEVERAL blogs, yes, December is a crazy month.  I know, I know your sick of hearing it.  After a 13-plus hour day, followed by a 6:45 AM meeting, we definitely needed some comfort food around here.

Matthew has been consistently asking to eat dinner in front of the TV, so I decided to make something couch-friendly.  I decided on nachos, mostly because I wanted so badly to hit up the Taco Bell drive-thru after work yesterday.  But, of course, I had to put a "sophisticated" spin on it.

Not Yo' Average Taco Bell Nachos

1 recipe homemade tortilla chips
1 can black beans
1 cup sweet corn
Chili Powder
Taco Sauce
1/2 cup cheddar cheese
1/4 cup sour cream

While baking the chips, I whipped together the beans, corn, and spices.  Remove chips from oven, top with bean mixture, cheese, and sour cream.  Eat.  Sit half-comatose on the couch for 3 hours.  Hey, sometimes you just need to.

But, I made my own chips.  Martha/Ina/Giada would be proud.  We are gone this weekend, so I have purposely delayed Thursday evening's dinner for a later posting.  I think they call that delayed gratification...

Monday, December 13, 2010

Secretive Saturday

I had to physically restrain my self from typing "Snowy Saturday", it just seemed inappropriate, and like a bit of an understatement.

Saturday found me, as it found many other Minnesotans, cooped up and in need of a project.  Indeed, I did find a cooking project.  But, alas, as this project includes edible gifts which may be coming to a stomach near you soon, I can't tell you what it is.

So, I leave you with this cliff-hanger of a picture, stay tuned...

Please excuse my dirty stovetop, household cleaning was not on my snow-day project list.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Mismatched Monday

I sat down to write this post and had to think for a long time about what we had for dinner on Monday.  Note to self:  this is why you write your posts in order Hannah.

So, Monday.  We were both craving something cheesy and Italian, and I am still working my way through a huge can of rolled oats from several granola exploits.  During my several hours of staff development on Monday (see: fun), I had a brilliant idea.  What if I breaded chicken in oatmeal?  We are all about killing two birds with one stone around here, so I went ahead and did it.

Oatmeal Chicken Parmesan

4 4 oz chicken breasts
1 cup oatmeal
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp garlic powder
1 cup marinara or tomato sauce
1 cup part skim mozzarella cheese, shredded

I combined the oatmeal and spices, until it looked and smelled like some sort of weird, savory oatmeal.

I preheated the oven to 350, and dipped each chicken breast in the oatmeal.  In hindsight, I would have thrown some butter in there for good measure.  I placed the chicken in a greased baking pan, and baked for 20 minutes.  I then poured marinara sauce and cheese over the chicken, baked for 8 more minutes, and threw it in the fun broiler drawer ( you remember, don't you?), for about 2 minutes.

The stray oats got a little burnt, but it was cheesy, and pretty good.  Like I said, some butter next time.

Next time I will post my meals in chronological order.  As God intended.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Truth Tuesday (Part Two)

Alright friends, here it is, my confession.

I have as a Norwegian, native Minnesotan, despite all laws of nature, developed a taste for SOME spicy foods.

Pause for silence and reflection.

I blame my husband (mostly).  Matthew has had a busy week, and in general December is kind of a busy month.  So I promised Matthew that he could have whatever he wanted for dinner, and I would do the dishes (not).  He said "tacos, I want tacos".

Well, my knowledge of tacos doesn't go much beyond browning meat and adding in some sort of pre-packaged seasoning.  I guess that's not entirely true.  Let's not forget those college-days 1 AM Taco Bell runs.  Oh come on Cobbers, you know you did it too!

As a newly, self-proclaimed, "foodie", I was craving something more tonight.  Fresh, good, produce is hard to come by in this tundra currently, so I wasn't entirely surprised when a can of Rotel ended up in my shopping basket.  I was surprised that it said "medium" on it.

Truthful Turkey Tacos

1/2 lb lean ground turkey meat
1 can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)
Taco Seasoning of your choice (chili powder, cumin, etc.)
The Fixin's:  Tortillas, Cheese, Sour cream (please don't skip the sour cream)

I browned the meat (easy), and added in the Rotel with the juice, I stirred in seasoning, and had made taco meat that at least looked a little more sophisticated than a 1 AM Cheesy Gordita Crunch.

Even my Californian husband, with nay a drop of Norwegian blood in him, said it was spicy.  Success! Or, dismay, I'm not sure how I feel about my new taste buds yet.

PS-- As previously stated, December is insane.  Expect an as yet unnamed Monday blog after Truth Tuesday.  My type A personality doesn't like the disorganization anymore than you do.  Consider yourself warned.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Found it! Friday

Story time:

Approximately 1 year ago, we were sitting in a house in Eagan with our dear friend Sophie.  She presented us with some of the best sugar cookies I have EVER had.  EVER.

I have tried in vain to recreate this recipe.  Most of these attempts have ended in "epic fails".  This past week I had a thought.

Self:  "those cookies were really almond-y, what if I used almond paste".

Use it I did.

Cookies, as yet, unnamed

1/2 cup almond paste
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 egg white
1 3/4 cup flour
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp almond extract

I diced the almond paste in the food processor.  I added in the butter and sugar, and combined.  I then added the egg and pulsed until combined.  The remaining ingredients went in and pulsed until they formed a dough.  Resist the temptation to eat all the dough and wrap it in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge for about 1 hour.

Make the icing.


3 tbsp hot water
1 1/2 tsp almond extract
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
3 drops green food coloring
3 cups powdered sugar

Stir all the ingredients together, and place in your piping bag.  Oh wait, I mean your ziploc bag, and throw in the fridge.

I rolled out the cookies, made a few cutouts, and threw them in a 325 oven for 10 minutes.

After the cookies had cooled (mostly).  I cut a hole in the ziploc bag and made my husband ice the cookies so I wouldn't make a mess.  I was on sprinkle duty.

I think (according to Matthew), I came pretty close to the original cookie.  Sophie, if you're reading this, don't tell me if I'm way off base!  I want to keep my sense of accomplishment?

Best part about cookies?  You can make enough for your husband to eat in 24 hours (see above picture), and then freeze the rest of the dough for some sort of church event.

Happy shoveling!

Take Two Tuesday

I'm sure you all remember my first risotto attempt.  Remember?  Red Velvet cake, and then risotto.  Ah yes, I said cake, now you remember.

Regardless, Tuesday found us here with an abundance of weird ingredients.  Kale, broccoli, bad white wine, arborio rice.  Because, as my husband pointed out, you can't call arborio rice risotto until you make risotto.  Whatever.

Most importantly, Tuesday found us with a shiny new stainless steel pot.  Here in the World's Smallest Kitchen, we get really excited about these things, and by we, I mean me.


Whatever you have on hand Risotto

2 cups arborio rice
4 cups fat free chicken stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup parmesan cheese
Juice of 1/2 of a lemon

I first preheated the oven and roasted the carrots an broccoli as I have been know to do.  I toasted the "arborio rice" (as Matthew would say) in the butter.  I added the wine, salt, and pepper, until the wine had cooked off.  Then comes the part that makes the itty bitty kitchen itty bitty, and also really warm.  You ladle in the stock a cup at a time, until all the liquid has cooked off.  Heat the stock first, or the rice will overcook.  Which is what happened to me

I folded in all the vegetables, including the kale.  I seasoned the rice and added in the cheese and lemon.

I corrected my mistakes from my last attempt at risotto, but didn't really improve it all, because I made different mistakes.  Isn't that just the way life works?

It was still good.  Sticky, gumminess, and all.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Mexican Monday

You may have fond memories of my husband's love for pulled pork.  Well, as hubby and I ventured from Alexandria to St. Paul Sunday, we hashed out our schedule for December.  Like many musicians, we have little time for sleeping/eating/breathing in December. I wanted to make a meal on Monday that would provide us with some easily re-heatable leftovers.  The pulled pork immediately came to mind, probably because we just finished eating it last week.

But why do I recipe I've already tried?  Boooooring.

Pork Carnitas, minus the lard

Pork loin roast
4 garlic cloves, cut into slivers
2 tbsp mole sauce
3/4 cup chicken or vegetable stock
1 can dice tomatoes with green chilies (Rotel)

This recipe required a little "night before" prep.  I know, I know, how sophisticated and prepared of me!  I browned the pork on all sides in a pan.

It's at this point in the story that things got a little scary in the itty bitty kitchen.  The various recipes I was improvising upon suggested I place holes in the raw pork with a knife, and then insert the raw garlic slivers into the pork....

Wait. What?  You want me to do what with the pork?  Being the good sport that I am, I took a deep breath and told Matthew to take a picture.

Note the massive amount of garlic.

I rubbed salt, cumin and maybe a little chili powder on the pork and wrapped it in saran wrap and threw it in the fridge.  I then eagerly washed my hands...about 4 times.

The next morning at precisely 8:15, I threw the pork in the crock pot with the remaining ingredients.

8 hours later our apartment smelled like Chipotle, so I decided to shred the pork.  I put it on tortillas and served.  Then I forgot to take a picture.

Ooops.  It was really good.

To distract you from my error, I give you a wedding picture.

Isn't Matt's sister the cutest? 

Photo by Samantha Meyer of Samantha Meyer Photography.

Tonight's dinner is still digesting in my belly, more to come...

Monday, November 29, 2010

Sentimental Sunday

In my family the Christmas tree goes up early, and I do mean early.  Thanksgiving at 5 pm you can usually find the men in my family hauling the gigantic tree up the stairs.

So as we made our way back to our itty bitty kitchen yesterday, I had big dreams about putting up our tree, listening to Christmas music, and making some delicious soup.  I decided on a sausage soup, even though I don't like sausage, because I thought perhaps my taste buds had yet again evolved.

Kale, White Bean, and Sausage Soup

1 clove garlic, minced
2 tsp olive oil
1 lb turkey sausage (I used a sweet Italian variety, hence the chili powder)
1 tsp chili powder
4 cups chicken stock
1 cup water
1 can white beans
1/2 bunch kale, chopped

I cooked the sausage in the oil and chili powder, causing our home to smell like a pizzeria.  I added in the garlic, and sigh, had to touch it with my fingers...AGAIN!  I added in the stock, water, and beans.  Simmered for 10 minutes.  In the process, I chopped the kale.


I threw in the kale and simmered for another 10 minutes.

Note the steam rising from the artistic.

Matthew liked it, which is good, because I still don't like sausage and we have a ton left over.

But, not all of my dreams were squashed.  The tree is in fact up, and we found room for it!  The first thing I said when we got our apartment was "where will we put the Christmas tree?"  But, I believe we found the perfect spot for our humble tree.

Now, to find room in the fridge for the leftover soup.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Scandinavian Saturday

Matthew had been planning for some time to have our resident "Scandinavian-everything expert", Sandy, teach us to make lefse.  Thanksgiving break seemed the perfect time to try out our fancy new lefse-making wares.  We prepped for Friday, preparing our grill, and preparing to fill the house with even MORE lefse, if that's possible.

Then Friday came.  Apparently "proper" lefse-making can be a two day process.  8 potatoes through a food mill and some butter, sugar, and cream later, we basically had sugared mashed potatoes.  So we anxiously awaited Saturday.

Saturday did not disappoint.  Sandy patiently taught me the correct rolling technique, and taught Matthew the correct flipping technique.  Easy right?

Wrong.  3 hours later I was still rolling my way through 8 potatoes-worth of lefse.  Matthew had disappeared to another room and my trusty pie-helping sister Grace was on flipping duty.  Remember her?  She's so sweet.  Regardless of the back pain it caused, our expectations were met.  We had have a large quantity of DELICIOUS lefse.  The delicious part I mostly owe to Sandy, but the shape and oh-so desired thinness of the lefse?  That was all me.  I'm pretty darn good at it if I must say so.  Must be my Norwegian blood!

Californians beware: there is lefse in your future.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Thursday

Newly developed cooking skills means a Thanksgiving post is a must right?  Of course.  I know you were waiting for it, and discussing it around your respective tables.

Being a newly married, adult woman also means new Thanksgiving responsibilities beyond eating lefse.  The pies were my job.  Most of the pie-making happened last night after our icy trek from St. Paul.  While I had intended to make the crust from scratch, weather did not permit, so it was frozen crusts, but filling from scratch.

The two more complicated recipes came from Bon Appétit, and I didn't fuss with them much because, well, it's Thanksgiving.  This is serious business.

Apple Pie with Oat Streusel

 Too many apples....

*Hannah's Thanksgiving Wisdom:  Younger brothers, while they may grow taller and older, will still always be younger brothers, and therefore still able to irritate you.  Mine is in law school...can you tell?

I guess 3 pounds means 3 pounds,  pictured in the bowl is our leftover apples.

My pie helper.

*Hannah's Thanksgiving Wisdom:  if you make a sweet-awesome pie, please take a picture of the finished product!

Wild Blueberry and Cranberry Pie

Too pretty to eat.

*Hannah's Thanksgiving Wisdom:  Cornstarch, if you've never used it before, comes in a box.

Lattice topping= from scratch.  I'll go ahead and pat myself on the back.

*Hannah's Thanksgiving Wisdom: If your pie looks a lot like the picture in the magazine, show it off.

My final pie was my first attempt as a wife, my standby, my sure thing.

Key Lime Pie (too easy for a picture)

1 can sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
1/2 cup key lime juice
1 graham cracker crust (pre-purchased or from scratch)

Combine liquid ingredients and pour into pie crust.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Refrigerate and top with:

Whipped Cream

1 1/2 cups heavy whipping cream
3 tbsp powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla

Whip in a chilled bowl, but not too long.  Top pie, or just eat directly from the bowl.

Caution:  The useful part of my blog ends here, the following is an assortment of our Thanksgiving, in pictures.

Sister Griffin shows off her apron, and sock monkey slippers.

 My parents' kitchen is everything our is not: large, trendy, and a good hang-out spot.

 Husband does some "light" seminary reading pre-turkey.

 Father Griffin dons his "bib" for turkey carving.

 He just couldn't resist, and Mother Griffin couldn't resist taking a picture.

 Ready for our feast.

Awesome artwork by my awesome Grandpa.

I wish we could be with all our family and friends on this Thanksgiving, but wherever you are I hope it is filled with Thanks, Laughter, Fun, and....pie.

Blog Guest Credits:

Photography-- Doug Griffin

Pie Helping and Dishwashing-- Grace Griffin

Taste Tester-- Matthew Fleming

Annoying Little Brother-- Samuel Griffin

Artwork-- James Houglum

Maker of our Thanksgiving Feast--Mary Griffin

Most Popular non-pie Thanksgiving dish-- Lefse, with the appropriate butter/sugar ratio.

Actress to play Hannah in upcoming blog-inspired film:  Anne Hathaway, or possibly Mary Louise Parker, if it's an edgier film.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Spicy/Slippery Sunday

Come on Minnesotans...I couldn't resist the slippery title.  Raise your hand if you or someone you know spun out on the ice today!

So as not to bore those of you in warmer climes, I'll "get to the goods".  While I like to think that my Norwegian taste buds have worn off on my husband, it appears some of his sophisticated Californian taste buds have worn off on me.  A combination of my husband's influences, and our lovely weather left me craving something spicy today.

Black Bean Soup

2 cans black beans, undrained
1 can whole kernel corn, drained
1 can tomatoes with green chilies, Rotel, or Market Pantry brand ('cuz it's cheaper)
1 cup chicken or vegetable stock
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin

I sautéed the garlic in the pan with the oil.  Downside: had to touch the raw garlic with my fingers.

Ewwww!  I then took out my handy immersion blender AKA: greatest invention ever.  I blended the chicken stock and one can of the beans together, but not for too long, nobody wants black bean juice.

I threw the bean juice, rotel, other can of beans, corn, and cumin into a stock pot, and simmered for about 30 minutes.

But every pot of soup screams for something to be dipped in I needed something else.  I thought tortilla chips would be perfect, but not just any tortilla chips.  The restaurant kind, the super addicting, saltily-delicious restaurant kind.

Homemade Deceptively Healthy Tortilla Chips

5 corn tortillas, cut into wedges
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin
Juice of one lime

This one isn't too hard to figure out: lay the tortilla wedges on a baking sheet, sprinkle with lime juice, add spices.  Bake at 350 degrees for 6 minutes, remove from oven, flip, and re-season.  Bake for 6 minutes again.  Eat.

You may have noticed from the above picture that I ventured outside my comfort zone and got the "Medium" rotel, instead of the "mild".  Actually, I bought both, assuming I'd decide when I got home.  Hey, they were only 67 cents.  While the soup made my nose run a little, it was delicious, and almost spicy enough to make me forget I have to scrape an inch of ice off of my car in the morning.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday's Feats

After a long week of teaching/studying/Luther-ing, my husband and I were both in need of some time together.  We decided to attempt a feat so daring, few have ever tried it before.

We attempted to make dinner together.  In our kitchen.  Together.  At the same time.

Spaghetti with Lemon Sauce

3/4 lb whole wheat spaghetti
1 tbsp lemon zest
Juice of 1/2 lemon
5 tbsp dry white wine
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

Confessions time: I am a bit of a control freak, especially in our tiny kitchen, so this was quite the trying experience for me.

It really all began in Byerly's on Friday night, which was a zoo.  I won't even discuss the fact that we got smoked Gruyere, because the regular Gruyere was $17.00.  Now, I love cheese, but not that much.  But like I said, I'm not going to discuss it.

Reduced the wine with the lemon zest, tossed it on the spaghetti with the rest of the ingredients.  The pot was too small, as was the kitchen.

"Could you just move for a second so I could..."

"Don't move, I'm washing this knife"

"Can you hand me a bowl?"

"How does it taste?"

"I don't know, move and I'll taste it"

The best part of the dinner was probably the simple vinaigrette I made and tossed with a salad.  That, or Matthew's Premium Grain Belt.

It was a worthwhile bonding experience,  just not one we'll try again for awhile.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Whip it together! Wednesday (Previously to be titled: Wife's day off Wednesday)

Despite contrary belief, I am not the only expert chef in our tiny household.  See: Monday's post featuring Matthew in his apron.  Even though cooking has become my creative outlet/middle school teacher therapy, my lovely husband volunteers to help make dinner once a week.  Last night was the night.  I had already come up with the above witty title, and had spent some of the day thinking of hilarious things I could write about Matthew's cooking.

Well, as is often the case in this small kitchen, things didn't go home as planned.  When I arrived home Matthew was grumpily trying to translate Greek, so I re-volunteered myself to make something for dinner.  I opened the fridge and made a decision.

Baked Tortellini (aka, the easiest thing you'll make all week)

Cheese Tortellini (fresh or frozen)
1 jar Marinara sauce (if you're not feeling completely drained by 7th graders, I suppose it could be from scratch)
Parmesan cheese, shredded
Italian Seasoned breadcrumbs

I cooked the tortellini, and quite literally threw everything in a sprayed baking dish, and topped with the cheese and breadcrumbs.

I baked this at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.  After which, it was not at all brown on top as I had hoped.  Using my best Ina-Giada-Martha thinking skills, I threw it in the broiler for about 3 minutes.  Good job me!

Easy dinner can also equal delicious dinner!  Matthew is gone again tonight, so it's leftover chicken and dumplings, roasted broccoli, and lesson planning Grey's Anatomy for dinner.

Lest you think this blog post was completely pointless, and before you move on to something important.  Here is a picture of my parents' newest child:

I couldn't resist.  Beware:  Thanksgiving-themed posts are in my/your future.