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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.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Ta-Da Tuesday

Once again, Tuesday's meal has redeemed us here in The World's Smallest Kitchen.  With an excess of frozen chicken, carrots, celery, chicken stock, and a George Foreman Grill, I really only had one option.

Chicken and Dumplings (comforting and healthy too)

1 lb chicken breast, George Foreman-ed and chopped
2 tbsp flour
2 tsp vegetable oil
2 carrots, chopped
2 celery stalks, chopped
1 tsp thyme
3 cups fat-free chicken broth


2 tbsp flour
2 tbsp cornmeal
3/4 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp parsley
1/4 cup skim milk

First, I whipped out the trusty George Foreman.

 6 minutes later....

I sautéed the carrots and celery with the oil and thyme for about 3 minutes.  I then sprinkled 2 tablespoons of flour, and some salt and pepper over the top.

When the flour had browned a little I poured the chicken stock over the top, and added in the chicken.  This simmered, uncovered, for about 10 minutes.  Or, however long it took me to make the dumplings.

I mixed together the flour, cornmeal, salt, parsley, and milk in a bowl and stirred until it resembled a dough.  I then dropped teaspoon sized dumplings into the chicken stock.  Dubiously, I put the lid on the pot, and walked away, to catch up on Glee, for about 10 minutes.  But, I needn't have been dubious...because dumplings are like magic!

Those babies puffed up to little clouds of heaven, I proudly brought this to church to give to Matthew in between meetings.  I declared, "it's good, I know because I taste-tested it".

Matthew hasn't come home yet, but I'm pretty sure no dumpling was left behind.

Mixed-up Monday

Sunday/Monday kind of blurred together, and then I forgot to blog, so in no chronological order I give you:

Mixed-up Monday

Last year around this time, Matthew made two loaves of gingerbread, and it put me right in the mood for snow/winter.   So, Sunday evening when I was starting to feel grumpy about brushing off a weekend's worth of snow from my car, we decided to make this.

Makes 1 large or 3 small loaves
1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1/4 teaspoon salt (can be omitted if using salted butter)
1 stick (8 tablespoons) butter
1 egg
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 cup molasses
1/2 cup warm water

We mixed the dry ingredients together, and then added in the wet.  This required a little elbow grease (because of the molasses), so Matthew threw on his manliest apron and stirred.
We added in the hot water, baked at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.  It smelled like gingerbread, gumdrop, pine tree, santa heaven.
Matthew took most of the loaf to staff meeting today, and then informed me that it was all gone!  In the words of Stephanie Tanner: "how rude"!
Monday morning's grocery list of "cereal" had me inspired.  I shall make granola, I said! I pulled a recipe out of a lovely recipe box Matthew's grandmother gave us as a wedding gift.
3 cups whole oats
1/2 cup honey (1 bear-sized bottle)
Raisins, Craisins, Almonds, Nuts
I took a picture because, well, isn't that the most lovely penmanship you've ever seen?  Seriously, they don't teach that in school anymore.
In my over-eagerness I said to Matthew "I'll just double the recipe, then we'll have plenty!"  I am so domestically deranged sometimes. More on that later, basically you just stir it all together.
I baked this (in SEVERAL batches), at 400 degrees for 8 minutes.  The multiple batches gave me the option to add in a little cinnamon for some extra spice.  The result?
So much granola! I mean, it's great and all, but y'all can come over anytime for granola and pork.  A well rounded meal.
Monday evening's meal? A gloppy combination of chicken, frozen vegetables, and a feta sauce. It tasted ok, but the recipe is hardly worth mentioning.