Saturday, April 7, 2012

Rhubarb and Egg Hunts

Since before Jett could start eating, I have been on a mission to entice and expand his tastebuds to include all kinds of interesting and diverse flavors.  I believe that it is important for children to try, try, and try again new foods so that they are able to eat a variety of colorful and wonderful foods. (And let's be honest, so that someday Jett will like many of the same foods that his mama does.)

Currently his growing list of favorites includes red pepper, garlic, mango, spinach, pears by the fist full, chicken Alfredo pizza, tandoori chicken, and add a new food to the list...drum roll please, this is a good one...rhubarb! 

My parents just moved to a beautiful new house that has an abundance of rhubarb growing in the back yard.  My mom sent home a bunch for me to use, and I've only gotten through half of that harvest.  Jett helped me bake, and as I was chopping, he was begging for a taste.  Knowing how bitter and sour raw rhubarb is I gave him just a little teenie tiny piece to try, and to my surprise he loved it.  Even better than the raw fruit, he loved the dessert that I made from it, a recipe from none other than The Pioneer Woman.  I can only begin to describe this rhubarb cobbler by saying that the recipe (like many from the Frontier) is not afraid of butter or sugar, but after all this is dessert.  The rhubarb itself doesn't get much dressing up, just simple granulated sugar, which gives the fruit's zippy tanginess a chance to shine through.  The cobbler part is like biting into a sweet fluffy biscuit and the two together yield almost a pudding like consistency.  Amazing!

(By the way, did you know that rhubarb is actually a vegetable, but is largely considered a fruit in the U.S.  You can wow your party guests with that one.)

I'm also excited to share some adorable pictures of Jett's first egg hunts!  Last week we joined in the fun of my dad's company egg hunt, which was fantastic for a beginner.  Lots of eggs, few kids in the 0-2 age category, and great weather.

Today we were invited to join my best friend and her daughter in Tekamah for their annual community egg hunt.  It was a huge event complete with a petting zoo, pony rides, and a train.  The 0-3 category was the opposite of the week before.  Nearly a hundred parents and kids lined up on both sides of a field and when the guy said "go", they went!  Our inexperience shone through, yielding no eggs until a kind man revealed one that he had hidden under his foot, for the pathetic hunters. It was literally over in about 20 seconds. But not to worry, it was really the petting zoo that our kiddos were most excited about.
Reagan with her egg!

 Happy Easter everyone!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Crockpot Confession and a Great Use-It-Up Night

I have a confession for you.  My crockpot scares me.  Okay - it's not just my crockpot, and it's really not like "Ooh I'm so scared I'm going to sleep with the lights on!" That would be really weird. It's more like I'm intimidated by the idea of using a crockpot.  I know the whole point is that you leave them plugged in all day, and tada when you get home supper is ready.  But you know what, they get really, really hot.  I'm not sure how I feel about leaving something  that hot on my counter all day while I'm gone.  And I feel like the idea of slow-cooking is unpredictable to me.  When I put something in the oven at 350 I know how long it will take to cook depending on what it is that I'm baking.  When I cook in the skillet, same thing.  But the crockpot I have to trust...

All of that to say, that I used my crockpot today.  I put my qualms about it aside, plugged it in and left for eight hours (you see it sounds really weird when you see it in print, very unnatural.)  But the results, I will admit were very good.  I had one final package of pork chops to use-up, so I put those in the pot with half of a chopped yellow onion, a can of cream of mushroom soup, and equal parts water to reduce the gravy a bit.  Even though I loath having to use cream of something soup (see Use-It-Up Post 25) in this case it worked.  The chops fell apart and had a really great dense meaty flavor, and they stayed very tender, which can be a tricky thing for pork chops to accomplish.

The whole meal was a great example of a Use-It-Up night.  In the morning before I left for work I also made a batch of bread dough and put it in the refrigerator.  I'm learning the tricks of baking as I go, and today was a really good lesson; while it may seem convenient to make a batch of dough ahead of time, you must give ample thawing and rising time if you intend to make bread.  I did not, and tried to hurry it along with no luck.  So when life hands you cold dough, make breadsticks.  I buttered a 9x13 pan and pressed the dough along the side, as if I was making a pizza crust.  I then drizzled a tablespoon of butter on top and sprinkled garlic and oregano.  The breadsticks then went into a 375 degree oven for 20-25 minutes.  About half way through I used-up some Parmesan cheese and sprinkled that on top while they finished baking. 
The results. Yumm!

On the side we had coleslaw and snow peas.  Dessert was an extra special treat because I also had apples to use-up.  Apple crisp on a Monday does not usually happen in this house, but it must have been fate because it did.  Here is the recipe:

Apple Crisp

6 peeled and sliced apples
3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
1 cup rolled oats
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup flour
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1 stick of butter (or 8 tablespoons)

Coat apples in granulated sugar and put into a 9x13 pan.  For topping, combine oats, brown sugar, flour, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  Using a fork or knife cut cold butter into small chunks and combine with topping mixture until you have small granules of butter incorporated into mixture.  Pour topping over apples and bake at 375 degrees for 40 minutes.