Friday, April 1, 2016

What's Cooking

The change of seasons always inspires me to try new things in the kitchen. And now that my little helper is able to sit up in her high chair (as opposed to watching from the floor in a bouncy seat or bumbo), it's even more fun.

I spread some flour out on Caroline's tray and she was so entertained. Fortunately, Scout likes to lick flour off the floor so the mess was kept to a minimum. That dog is good for a few things!

Pork carnitas

This was a Pinterest win! You can find the recipe here. It did require a trip to the Mexican grocery for the chile de arbol which was an adventure in itself. I did not exactly feel welcomed! But the carnitias turned out very tasty. I used a 2.5 pound pork shoulder and should have cut the cinnamon stick in half. The store didn't have any cojita cheese which I believe would have tasted better than what I bought which was super mercado.

Spicy Louisiana Spinach 

This is one of my Laura's recipes that looks like it has a lot of ingredients but is pretty easy to put together. Plus I think it's the best way to eat spinach!

3 10-ounces frozen chopped spinach
6 Tablespoons butter
3 Tablespoons flour
1/2 cup chopped onion
3/4 cup evaporated milk (can substitute regular milk)
3/4 cup vegetable liquor, from spinach
1/4 teaspoon cayenne, 1/2 t black pepper, 1/2 t celery salt, 1 t garlic salt, 1 t Worcestershire
8 ounces grated Monterrey Jack cheese
Optional: 1/4 cup sliced almonds and 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Cook the spinach according to package directions and reserve the juice. In a large saucepan (I use my dutch oven for the whole process), melt butter over low heat and add flour. Stir until smooth and add chopped onion and cook until onions are soft but not brown. Slowly add liquids until smooth. Add seasonings and cheese until cheese is melted. Add in spinach. Pour in greased 8 x 12 casserole dish and top with almonds and bread crumbs, if desired. Bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes.


The recipe for these homemade Girl Scout tagalongs was on the Today Show this week. They looked too good not to try. My only hesitation with these is it was an awful lot of work to just get two dozen cookies. But when you think about it, the box of Girl Scout cookies always seems so small.

Baby Food

Baby food may just be my favorite new thing to fix in the kitchen. Caroline is proving to be as good an eater as her daddy. So far we've followed this same basic recipe for broccoli, carrots and sweet potatoes. She'll eat the same thing for two or three nights when it's a new food just to make sure she doesn't have any type of reaction to it. But then I'll mix up two cubes and do broccoli/carrots, sweet potatoes/broccoli, etc.

So easy: wash vegetables and then steam until very tender (covered about 15 minutes). Make sure you actually check to see that you've put enough water in the bottom pan. I may have learned this the hard way with my first batch of broccoli! Transfer to a food processor and then add liquid from the water left in the steam to puree to the desired thickness. You could also use breast milk/formula to thin the puree. Ice cube trays make perfect portion sizes. These trays I have are Muchkin and have lids but regular trays would work just as well. After the cubes are frozen, transfer to a freezer bag.

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