Get outside, Family!

Get outside, Family!

Monday, December 20, 2010

If only every recipe could be this easy

The Chef and Mama made this wholesome meal and it was "e-Zi". It also allowed the Chef opportunity to utilize his many talents, from grating to measuring, spinning and mixing. Due to a lack of seasoning in the recipe, the finished product fell kind of flat on flavor (Baby Zi loved it, but the Chef wouldn't take it for lunch the next day). Granny Ri Hi suggests adding red pepper and salt, which we will do next time.

Our dish was based on the Ricotta Pasta with Fresh Spinach recipe posted at That version is adapted from "The Vegetarian 5-Ingredient Gourmet" by Nava Atlas (Broadway Books, 2001). It's basically grown-up mac n' cheese with a healthy green topping.

Corkscrew-shaped pasta (the Chef's fav)
1 1/2 cup Ricotta
1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano cheese (Chef did the grating and mixing of the cheeses, water and pasta)
salt and pepper
Double-sized container of fresh baby spinach (Chef did the salad spinning after washing)

Cook pasta and reserve some of the cooking water. Toss with butter and set aside.
In another bowl, combine cheeses and enough of the water to make a smooth sauce. Add salt and pepper (this is where the red pepper would be a nice addition. And don't be afraid of the salt!).
(This was my favorite part -- one pot cooking!) Put spinach in the pot used for the pasta with a little water, and steam. Drain, add more butter and use to top each plate of pasta.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Chef's Salad Spinning Lesson

Tonight's menu: Romaine and Cherry Tomato Salad, Butternut Squash, Chicken and Gravy, Rice, and Asparagus.

The best way to spin a salad: With a crank spinner, fast. Because it will do it faster.

Tips on preparing squash: You should dispose it (the leftover shell) when you are done.

Our cooking show went well. The best thing was the chicken.

Mama and Chef agree that warming up leftover roast chicken in a pot of gravy of chicken stock, butter and flour made it into a whole new, even better dinner.

Friday, December 10, 2010

The Chef is Back!

Grilled Cheese Sandwiches for Dinner, by Chef Zi and Mama

Step 1. Spread butter on the bread, both sides. (White bread is best.)
Step 2. Heat a chunk of butter in skillet.
Step 3. Cut bread slices in half.
Step 4. Fold slice of cheese in half, and then in half again, to make four pieces. Break apart to fit the bread. Put four pieces of cheese between two pieces of bread.
Step 5. Cook each sandwich until golden brown and melted.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

RIP, Dishwasher

My apologies to P&G for bashing phosphate-free Cascade in an earlier post. Turns out we did indeed need a new dishwasher. Although I can't let the new detergent formulation entirely off the hook. Our dishes were coming out greasy and chunky. Whereas when we were using the harsh, eco-nasty phosphate detergent, most dishes were mostly clean even with our old washer's weak water spray and mysterious, thundering wash cycle.

The new washer rocks our world, and does it so quietly. It makes less noise in wash mode than the whining and hissing that came from our old washer when it was done washing and simply drying the dishes. And our new washer has a cool "smart" cycle that is supposedly ultraefficient. So less water, less energy and no phosphates headed into the water system (at least not through our dish detergent).

Interesting how many people I know who've been shopping for new dishwashers since the detergent makers changed their formulas. And we are now advised to use a rinse agent -- something else to buy. See how environmental regulations can rev up the economy! Bring on the wind turbines.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Where in the world is Chef Zi?

The Chef is busy doing homework, playing with friends, playing the piano or just playing.

When I first envisioned this blog, the Chef and I had a lot more free time together, and that meant he helped me make dinner almost every night. But this school year has meant a lot more in-school time, plus homework and all the other stuff going on in his wonderfully social, challenging, adventurous life. You've already read how I'll put playing outside ahead of eating. A lot of times lately I end up throwing dinner together myself -- and I do mean throwing, as in toss the potatoes with oil as quickly as I can, fling a wet chicken piece into the roasting pan and hope I don't splash too much raw chicken goo onto the coffee maker -- in between homework help and baby feeding. I miss my Chef.