Tag Archives: cooking

Hy-Vee Dish: Happy Hour for the parent set

I’m not sure what it says about my life that the Hy-Vee “Dish” freezer meal workshop I just attended was fun and exciting, but it kind of rocked my world. (Well, nobody got me tickets to the  Beyoncé Formation World Tour!) My friend Kate from babysitting co-op got together 15 women for a Monday night happy hour situation and we all left with 10 meals (four serving each) for under $150 – and no cost to attend.

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Our workshop was from 6-7 p.m., which was perfect timing to take advantage of the Hy-Vee Market  happy hour before we started in on our meals. My grandpa always used to write recipes with “Step 1: Pour a drink,” so I felt right at home. The packaging itself happens in the market cafe, too, and you can bring your beverage right over. (My friend’s jaw dropped when they gave her a bill for just $4 for two local brews. Good deals. Or she’s just cute.)

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The Hy-Vee staff (shout out to Jenn and her team at the Valley West location) did all of the shopping/chopping for us before the event, and each meal had a prep zone with all of the ingredients, instructions, measuring spoons, labeled bags – everything. You just don an apron, gloves, buddy up and measure and dump.  The ingredients were high quality, and whatever is left over you can arm wrestle your friends to take home.

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There’s a variety of meal options, so Kate was a genius and invited us all to a Facebook event and posted the options as a poll, so we could vote for our favorites. Here’s what we took home:

  1. Chicken Pad Thai
  2. Southwest Marinade Steak
  3. Party Chicken
  4. Firecracker Grilled Salmon (super excited about this one!)
  5. Honey Garlic Meatballs
  6. Baked Ziti
  7. Chicken Asada Fajitas
  8. Crockpot Italian Beef
  9. Chicken and Dumplings
  10. Orange Chicken Stir Fry

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I brought my sister-in-law and caught up with my friend Kimberly at the Chicken Pad Thai station. Then, once all of the meals are prepped, they divvy them up for you and you just pay at the register.

I could totally see organizing one of these as a great “stock the freezer” party for a mom-to-be, with everyone chipping in to buy her portion of the dinners. I could also see a group of dudes doing this, or a couples date night thing with a bunch of friends.

Really, just, everyone with a mouth – if you’re the kind of person who uses the slow cooker on the regs, sign up for this. Hy-Vee always manages to make grocery shopping fun for me, and they really outdo themselves with the Dish event. I think you can get a group together and call to schedule a workshop, but certain Hy-Vees also have them on their events calendar.

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Filed under Cooking, Des Moines Dining, I love Des Moines

At home with the Heggens

Last week, my friends Danny and Katy and I finally made good on a volley of “LET’S MAKE RICOTTA” text messages. What? You don’t text your friends about cheese?

I had cheesemaking on my 30-before-30 list, a my friend even got me a sweet kit, but Emmett and I always seem to drink all of the milk in the house before I can manage any attempt to morph it into cheese. Danny is on a make-things-and-document-it kick, and I knew he’d DIY-d ricotta before, so I talked him into inviting me over to whip up a batch, especially since we don’t see each other at YNPN Des Moines board meetings any more. (Tear.)

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We donned aprons and made this creamy Smitten Kitchen ricotta because pretty much every post on Smitten Kitchen is a mouthwatering gem and they could attest to its taste and ease. Making the ricotta was insanely simple. The Heggens have way nicer kitchen utensils and even bought a bottle of silly alcohol-free red wine for me. The ricotta takes just a few minutes on the stove, and then we had to let it drain/firm up, so could hang out on the back porch and chow chips and drink “wine” and talk about the situational leadership model I learned about at a retreat. Because we’re geeks.

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We went a step further and turned half the ricotta into spinach-and-ricotta dumplings, sauteed in marinara sauce. They were pretty delish. I can’t find the Cooking Light recipe online (it’s in the current issue), but this is pretty similar.

Joe and Emmett came over for dinner after the cooking sesh/Emmett’s nap, and Danny even let Emmett try out his ukulele.

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I’m pretty terrible at making time to hang out with my friends. But I’m a champ at eating Sunday dinner. So, we should probably make and eat Sunday dinner with friends a lot more often.

 

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Into – In the kitchen

Joe recently stumbled upon “The Mind of a Chef” on Netflix, and we’re obsessed. Season 1 follows Chef David Chang, founder of the Momofuku restaurant group, on culinary adventures that touch on food science, culture and the craft of creating world-class cuisine.

281010_287943754655346_914595738_oAnthony Bourdain is the show’s executive producer and narrator, and great chefs from around the world make appearances. It’s super fun. There are silly animations, and the passion these chefs have to play and experiment jumps off the screen.

In our own kitchen, we’ve been on a zucchini kick, and have baked several loaves of this Eating Well chocolate zucchini bread. Which we eat while watching “Mind of a Chef,” of course.

What are you watching/eating these days?

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Cinco de Mayo Treat: Sweet fruit tamales

SweetTamales

My dad’s family always used to make tamales on New Year’s Eve, but I was too young to remember being part of that tradition. So when my half-brother Bruce and his wife Donna came for a visit, I asked them to bring the family recipe.

We spent all day making a special tamale feast together from scratch. I heard that the reason lots of tamale places are closed on Tuesdays is because everyone’s arms are so tired from all of the tamale-making that happens on Mondays. I believe it!

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Just in time for Cinco de Mayo, I’m sharing the recipe for sweet  – and adorable – pineapple and golden raisin tamales.

{Bonus: They’re allergen-free} Emmett was a fan.

Sweet Tamales (yields approximately 60)

These fruit tamales are a little quicker to whip up than the meat kind, but it’s still more fun if you have a big group lending a hand. I’d recommend making the masa ahead and then gathering everyone together to fill the tamales. Play a little music and the process turns into a party. (My favorite is The David Wax Museum, a Mexican-inspired folk band with roots in Columbia, MO.)

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 Shopping list:

  • Corn husks (1 package, soaked overnight)
  • Masa (4 cups)
  • Lard (1 cup – yeah, I know!)
  • Sugar (1 cup – could probably be cut down if you use the pineapple juice)
  • Baking Powder (2 tsp)
  • Salt (2 tsp)
  • Pineapple (1 20 oz. can – crushed is best)
  • Golden Raisins (1/2 box)
  • Water (4 cups – cut if you use juice)

1. Start by combining masa, baking powder, salt and sugar in a large bowl.

2. Using an electric mixer, whip the lard until it’s fluffy (a few minutes on a medium-low speed).

DSC_07763. Add the dry mixture to the lard and add water. Use your hands to combine. 

4. Mix in crushed pineapple (we gave the tidbits a few spins in the food processor) and half box of golden raisins.

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Keep mixing by hand. Test a tiny bit of the wet masa mixture by dropping it in a glass of water. If it floats, it’s mixed well enough! I think the trick is to try to rake/fluff it.

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5. Put a dollop of masa in the center of a husk (don’t forget to soak the husks overnight.) Wrap the husk around the masa and tie off with strips of masa, in a candy shape.

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I like to give them a good double-knot and trim the ends so everything looks neater and more compact.

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How cute are these? Come on, now. 20140504_113425

6. When you’ve assembled all of your cute little sweet tamales, it’s time to steam them.

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We fit half a batch at a time in our roaster, with 3 glasses of water poured in the bottom. Steam for about 70 minutes.

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Enjoy your tamales warm, or refrigerate/freeze them and they microwave nicely for a treat later.

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***

One of my favorite childhood memories was when we’d go to La Guadalupana in the Chicago neighborhood Pilsen and stock up on dozens of pork and chicken tamales. We’d eat one hot on the road — always washed down with a naranja Jarritos — and then freeze a few dozen for later. At home, I’d challenge myself to eat a spicy chicken tamale with a big glass of milk close at hand to cut the heat.

In Des Moines, two spots to go for authentic tamales are Tamales Industry and my favorite, La Rosa, which may have just re-opened?

Also, this is not really related, but my brother Bruce also happens to be an award-winning home brewer! He’s featured in this free University of Oklahoma online course on the Chemistry of Beer. It’s really well-done, so if you have any interest in the science of brewing, check it out.

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Grandpa’s Irish Soda Bread Recipe

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I celebrated a bit early because Emmett and I were lucky enough to go to Chicago this past week and revel in our Irish heritage. It was great to spend time at home and with my grandpa, who is recovering from pneumonia. Luckily, he was well enough to bake his famous Irish Soda Bread with me and ham it up for the camera.

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He starred in our second cooking video as a duo, walking me (and Emmett) through his Irish Soda Bread recipe. Making the video together is a memory (and taste) I’ll treasure forever. 

I’m so excited to share the recipe – which is written in my grandpa’s handwriting and was part of a book my family put together for me for my wedding.

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Soda Bread 1

Soda Bread 2

We had the fam over to my mom’s for corned beef and cabbage (which I cooked using this recipe), lots of dessert and all-you-can-eat soda bread (of course). I got to meet my cousin’s new baby, Caitlin, and my childhood friend’s new baby, Hazel, too! The tiny babies made Emmett seem like a giganotosaurus. I can’t believe his 9-month checkup is tomorrow.

 

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Parenting analogy of the weekend

Parenting analogy of the weekend: Starting out as a parent is kind of like making chili for the first time. Everyone wants to share “the best” recipe with you, but you just kind of have to throw what you have together (resources/philosophy/meat/beans), let it simmer and adjust to your own taste.

I mean, not that your white bean lamb chili isn’t uh-maz-ing, but I’ll just have it when I come over to your house. OK?

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Joe likes to riff on the America’s Test Kitchen recipe. Normally we have it with chicken, but this weekend it was stew meat. Simple. Spicy.

Parenting links that will make Santa spit milk out of his nose: 

If you haven’t yet read this hilarious A Ten-Month-Old’s Letter To Santa post, I almost peed.

My friend Erin wrote this witty little Elf on a Shelf essay for The Register. She’s good. Check out her blog Parent Hard, too.

Oh, Drew Magary. Dadspin brings us “A Treasury of Childrens’ Insane Christmas Lists.” Prompted by this annotated version of his own daughters’.

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Filed under Baby, Cooking, Life lessons