Thursday, December 31, 2009

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Walk in the Woods

During my holiday break, I am devouring all of the books in the house. I was bored yesterday so I snatched Brandon's "A Walk in the Woods" by Bill Bryson. I read four chapters quickly and wanted to try and finish, but Brandon wanted his book back.

Oh well, I hope to snatch it back today when he's not looking. It's about the AT (Appalachian Trail) and the author who does a journey with a friend over the more than 2,150 miles of trails.

The trails were finished in seven years with a full volunteer army. I love that is combines adventure, writing and nature.

Have to go, Brandon just gave me the book back.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

January birthdays

I got some sweet knives this year for my christmas/birthday. Yes, my birthday is Jan. 13 almost two weeks after Christmas. Sometimes it got a little dicy growing up, because usually with five kids and Christmas, it was cutting it close to all of the holiday fun.

One of my favorite birthdays was my 16th birthday. My dad finished our basement just for my party and we watched movies, ate tons of food all while it was snowing outside. It was January after all.

Well, the snow started piling up and before you knew it we had a real snowstorm. Parents had trouble picking up their kids and some even came on a tractor to get them. I will never forget Kevin Cutler's mom and dad saying, "You told me the wrong road!" Ha. They never let me live that down after driving around trying to find our house.

Anyways, I have tried them and love them. Brandon said he is going to have to change how he cuts now because they are so good. You cut things in half the time.

Here is a really helpful video on sharpening knives. I found out you need to wipe knives after you sharpen to clean the metal pieces that come off during sharpening.


Peace and Love,

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Stuffed pork chops

Holy Moly. In response to my sister, Rachel, no, I have not made the enchiladas yet. But, I want to. Christmas is just really busy and well, cooking? It's out the window right now.

Anyways, I am putting some other fun recipes on the blog site so I can get them later.

I used to go to this fancy restaurant in Springfield, Missouri during college that had the most amazing pork chops. I mean given the choice between steak and these thick chops, I chose the chops everytime.

Since then I have been meaning to find a good recipe. I am going to try these out next week. yum.

Also, there is grilled polenta that goes with it. Okay. I need to

Okay. Yes, polenta. Don't be afraid, it's just corn ground fine and it's like the Italian version of mashed potatoes. It's so yummy it makes my mouth water. If you are amish or mennonite, you make it, chill it and then fry it and pour syrup all over it. You can order it at the Der Dutchmen and it's amazing.

Fontina and Prosciutto Stuffed Pork Chops with Grilled Polenta Squares and Roasted California Grapes
Recipe courtesy Tyler Florence
Prep Time:
45 min
Inactive Prep Time:
3 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
50 min
4 servings
4 bone-in pork chops, about 1 1/2 inches thick
2 quarts water
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup kosher salt
4 fresh thyme sprigs
10 cloves
6 allspice berries
8 slices (about 3 ounces) prosciutto
4 slices (about 3 ounces) fontina
1/2 cup chicken stock
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, chilled
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley, for garnish
1 pound California red grapes, on the vine and cut into 4 smaller clusters/bunches
Extra-virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Grilled Polenta Squares, recipe follows
Prepare the pork chops. Make a brine by combining the water, sugar, salt, thyme sprigs, clove and all-spice berries in a re-sealable bag. Add the pork chops, seal up the bag and put in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes.
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
Drain the pork chops and pat dry. Using a paring knife, make a horizontal cut into the center of each chop to make a pocket. Stuff a slice of fontina and prosciutto inside each pocket and secure with a toothpick. Set 2 large cast iron skillets over medium-high heat and add a 2-count of extra-virgin olive oil to each skillet. Add 2 chops to each of the skillets and cook for 4 to 5 minutes until golden. Turn chops, push to 1 side and set grape clusters in pan. Drizzle with a little olive oil and season with salt and pepper before putting the pans in the oven. Roast chops for 5 to 7 minutes until cooked through and cheese has melted. Remove from oven when done and set chops and clusters of roasted grapes aside on a plate - keep warm.
Consolidate juices into 1 pan and set over medium heat. Add a splash of chicken stock to the pan, scraping the bottom to extract all the flavors. Fold in cold butter while whisking to thicken sauce. Season with salt and pepper. To serve, set 1 pork chop on each plate on top of a Grilled Polenta Square, garnish with a cluster of roasted grapes and drizzle with pan sauce. Set a stack of hydroponic watercress to 1 side and serve.
Grilled Polenta Squares:
8 cups water
1 teaspoon kosher salt
2 cups polenta/yellow cornmeal
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano
Fresh cracked black pepper
Extra-virgin olive oil
Bring water and salt to a boil in a large saucepan. Gradually whisk in the cornmeal in a slow steady stream. Lower heat and continue to whisk until the polenta is thick and smooth, about 20 minutes. Add the cream and butter and continue to stir until incorporated. Remove from heat; fold in Parmesan and black pepper. Pour the polenta into a buttered 9 by 13-inch shallow baking dish and spread evenly with a spatula. Cover and chill a few hours. Cut the polenta into squares. Brush both sides with olive oil and transfer to a hot grill. Grill on both sides until golden brown.

Friday, December 18, 2009

fam photos

Family photos

We were blown away with our photos from Karla Banks. She did such a great job on these photos. I really love how each of the girls' expressions and mannerisms were caught so well. Brandon and I look at them and see their sweet personalities shine through.
Ava is almost 3 and Sophia is 1.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Bobby Flay's Green Chili Enchiladas

Our family shares a love for green chilis. We love green chili, a soup just like red chili, and love enchiladas. I just saw that Bobby Flay posted a twitter post about his green chili enchiladas and wanted to try them out.

I am going to try this recipe soon!

Green Chile Pork EnchiladasServes:
4 to 8 large tomatillos, husked and washed
1 large red onion, coarsely chopped
6 cloves garlic, smashed
2 Serrano chiles, chopped
2 poblano chiles, coarsely chopped
¼ cup plus 2 tablespoons canola oil
¼ cup fresh Lime juice
½ cup packed chopped cilantro, plus cilantro leaves for garnish
1 tablespoon clover honey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
4 lbs pork shoulder, cut into 2-inch pieces
2 to 4 cups homemade chicken stock or low sodium chicken broth
12 6-inch corn tortillas
2 cups shredded Monterey Jack cheese
Sour cream, for garnishGuacamole, for garnish

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Toss the tomatillos, onion, garlic and chiles with 2 tablespoons of oil and season with salt and pepper. Roast until slightly charred and soft, stirring once, about 25 minutes.

Transfer mixture to a food processor, add the lime juice and cilantro and process until smooth; season with the honey, salt and pepper.

2. Reduce the heat of the oven to 350 degrees F. Heat a few tablespoons of the remaining ¼ cup of oil in a large Dutch oven over high heat until the oil begins to shimmer. Season the pork with salt and pepper and cook, in 2 batches, adding more oil for next batch until golden brown on all sides. Add the tomatillo sauce and enough stock to cover the pork, season with salt and pepper, cover and cook until the pork is fork tender, about 1 ½ to 2 hours. Remove the pork to a bowl and let cool slightly before shredding with a fork into pieces. 3. Increase the heat of the oven to 400 degrees F. Heat some of the cooking liquid in a large sauté pan, add the shredded pork and cook for a few minutes. Dip the tortillas in the sauce, one a time, to lightly moisten. Place the tortillas on a flat surface, place some of the shredded pork down the center of each one and a few cilantro leaves, roll and place seam-side down in a baking dish. Ladle some of the sauce over the enchiladas (enough to cover them completely), top with the cheese and bake until cheese has melted and bubbly and enchiladas are heated through, about 15 minutes. 4. Serve topped with guacamole and sour cream and garnish with more chopped cilantro if desired. Guacamole2 ripe Hass avocados, halved, pitted, peeled and diced¼ cup finely diced red onion1 jalapeno, finely dicedJuice of 1 fresh lime¼ cup finely chopped fresh cilantroSalt and freshly ground black pepperCombine all ingredients in a bowl and gently mix to combine, season with salt and pepper.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Do you like to dance?

Ava came down wearing this shirt and saying, "Do you like to dance?" She loves Yo Gabba Gabba now. She was so proud of herself for wearing it.
Pretty girl


zoo lights waiting for the animal show. It was around 30 degrees, but we were pretty warm.
Snug and warm.

I love how everyone was looking at the camera except the kids. Luke and Kelly, along with mom and dad were there and we had a great time.

Brandon snug in his jacket. What a cutie.

Dad, Brandon and Luke

blow out your candles!

Sophia and Charlotte wearing their tutus and opening presents
Sophia is almost 1! Baby girl turns one on tuesday.

sophia's birthday

Happy birthday sophia! Sophia playing with her toys.
beautiful baby

Sophia eating her cupcake

momma shmidt, Ava and momma Kuhns

Aunt Becca, Sophia, and Aunt Kelly

Sophia is turning 1

Me and Sophia
Happy birthday sophia!

white cupcakes with pink and purple icing. sophia loved the sugar on top!

Mom, this tutu is the bomb!

Happy birthday Sophia!