Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Much To Be Grateful For

I have so many things to be Grateful for this Thanksgiving. These are just a few that I have been reminded of this month.

Happy Thoughts, 2. Just the Girls, 3. Tchotchkes, 4. Time and Tolerance, 5. Wisdom, 6. Intervention, 7. The Beauty of Dance, 8. Reading, 9. Time Together, 10. A Helping Hand, 11. Sweet Girl of Mine, 12. Family History, 13. Going Green, 14. Slow Cooker, 15. It's Time to Decorate, 16. Glitter, 17. A Taste of the World, 18. A Table for Two, 19. Friends and their Babes, 20. Health and Well Being
(click on the links for more details)

Enjoy your day, however you choose to celebrate. We'll be letting someone else do the cooking this year and heading out to the Arizona Biltmore for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. I guess that means I can get started decorating for Christmas NOW, since I won't be working in the kitchen.

Have a Wonderful Thanksgiving!

Sunday, November 15, 2009

A Little Bit of Bento

I had to laugh when Sheri at Happy Little Bento tagged me to post about what I do with the little bits and pieces leftover from making Bento.

Truth be told, I most often make lunch fairly late at night, when I'm tired. For some reason I think eating helps me stay awake, so the Bento Scraps usually end up in my tummy. That's not to say I don't have "plans" on what I think I should do with all the scraps, so I guess that's what I'll post about.

Depending on what I'm packing, and how decorative it is, the bits and pieces can vary a lot. This is a pictures I took of what my kitchen counter looked like one night after making Little K's Bento.

I called it "Bento Remains" - or as my Flickr friend gamene calls it "Bento Carnage".

But not all days are like that. When I'm packing leftovers, and whole pieces of fruit and vegetables, the leftovers are pretty minimal.

This is today's lunch. Leftover Potstickers with strawberries, blackberries, tangerine, tomatoes and cucumber flowers. The box I used is just a sandwich box found at the grocery store. I love the peek a boo heart.

And this is the only mess that remained.

So if you are thinking about getting started with a Bento Lunch (you know who you are) - give it a try. They don't always take a long time to assemble - my husband even said last night how fast this one came together. You don't have to have any special Bento boxes, and if you don't want to re-use or re-cycle your scraps - feel better knowing that mine often end up in the trash.

No pressure - go ahead - give it a whirl.

Since this all started with a tag - here are my thoughts on making use of Bento Leftovers:

1) Bread - I love feeding the birds outside my kitchen window, and it seems the bird feeders are always empty, so I break up the crusts into bits and toss them into a dish that gets put out for the birds in the morning. I don't throw it directly on the ground (gets too mushy and attracts ants).

2) Nori Seaweed - I keep 2 bags in the fridge. One for full sheets that I use for cut outs and punches, and the Other for smaller bits (or cutting mistakes). I love the peppery flavor of Nori and the little bits can be sprinkled on rice or veggies for a little contrast.

3) Cheese - This is one thing I don't usually eat up on the spot, probably because little K likes Swiss, which is not my favorite. I love the idea of keeping the bits in the fridge to use on eggs, or grilled sandwiches. We have a Hermit Crab that loves cheese, so he usually gets a treat from what's left.

4) Cold Cuts/Lunch Meat - Chop up into small pieces and keep in the freezer. Add to eggs, fried rice or Soup Stock.

5) Fruits - If I don't use the entire fruit (plum, apple etc), I usually make up a snack box (nothing fancy, just sliced or chunked). It either gets eaten after school, or in the car on the way to an activity. I'll add some cheese or crackers to the snack box just before we leave.

6) Vegetable or fruit peels - Veggie peels can also be kept in the freezer to be used in Soup Stock. I wish I had a compost pile, but it's still on the "to do" list, so these usually get tossed, or given to our pet crab or parrot.

I'm going to tag
MandLmom at Pigs do Fly next and ask her to share what she does with her bento leftovers!

Once you accept the tag, the rules are simple:

1) Please link back to the person who tagged you and add your name to the "tagged list" below.

2) When you have answered the question (which can be in any style/format you like), nominate another (one will do) fellow blogger (who is not already on the list) and pass the tag to your nominee.

If you (the selected nominee) has already answered this question in an earlier post (well done), then your job is very easy - just link the tag to your earlier post and pass the tag on as per item nos. 1 and 2 above. Alternatively you can update it (if you wish). Have fun :)



[Ps. No cute picture with this tag unless someone can generously suggest one which would be most appreciated! Hint, hint…anyone wanna sponsor or is just creative? All credits will be given.]

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Butternut Curry Soup

I've really been missing my East Coast Roots this Fall. Wishing I could see the leaves change colors and waiting for the temperatures to cool down enough to be able to wear a scarf, or even long sleeves.

If it doesn't feel like fall outside, at least I can make it smell like fall inside - so I roasted up some veggies and made this delicious soup.

I was inspired by this recipe by Ina Garten, but I made a few changes. Not because I think I can improve in any way on what the Contessa has created, but mostly because I didn't have all the required ingredients on hand, plus I had a few more I wanted to include.

The vegetables were gathered up from the the fridge, peeled, cubed, tossed with olive oil and seasoned with salt and pepper. Then roasted in a 425 degree oven about 45 minutes or until tender.

After roasting, I pureed the vegetables with a stick blender (one of my favorite tools) along with some spices (curry powder, toasted onion powder, and garlic salt) adding chicken stock and a little heavy cream.

I get most of my spices from Penzeys. I used to order them on-line, or from their catalog, but now I live in a city where they actually have a retail store - I'm like a kid in a candy store. I never knew there were so many versions of even the basic spices, and they do a fantastic job navigating you through what could be an overwhelming spice journey. Not to mention they have wonderful recipes in their catalog.

When the soup was done, we added a few condiments - chopped peanuts, cilantro and toasted coconut.
I'm definitely feeling a bit more like Fall now.

Roasted Butternut Curry Soup

2 butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into cubes
1 sweet potato, peeled and cut into cubes
1 head cauliflower, cut into cubes
2 apples (your choice) peeled, cored and cut into cubes
1 red onion, peeled and cut into cubes
4 cups chicken stock
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/4 teaspoon toasted onion powder
1/4 teaspoon garlic salt

olive oil, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper

Toss vegetables in olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Spread vegetable on a sheet pan and roast in a 425 degree oven for 45 minutes or until tender. Allow to cool slightly. Place roasted vegetables in a soup pot and add part of the chicken stock. Puree with a stick blender, adding the rest of the chicken stock until desired consistency. Add curry, onion and garlic powder/salt and continue to blend. Add more salt and pepper if needed. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Add heavy cream and stir until combined. Served with your choice of chopped condiments (coconut, green onions, cilantro, cashews, peanuts).
Disclaimer: I don't usually measure or keep track when I cook, so quantities are approximate to the best of my recollection. Go with your instincts and toss in what you like - including a little love!

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Family Love

I'm so happy to have had my Mum come and stay with us for the past few weeks. We've had loads of fun together. Our closets are bulging, and so are our waistlines...and I can't wait to do it all again!


There is a cozy corner, in my heart,
All tucked away,
Warmed by the light of friendship's smile, and song
And laughter, gay.

A secret nook I keep, just for a favorite few,
And there is always Open House
Within that place for you.