Monday, March 31, 2008

Shrimp Tacos (Fajitas?)


I wasn't sure what to call this post: tacos or fajitas. So, I googled and asked the great, vast Internet, "what is the difference between a taco and a fajita?" And I am sorry to say, after about 15 minutes of reading, I still don't know. Some say that a taco has ground meat. But what about fish tacos? Are they not really tacos? Some say it depends on the way it is rolled, or whether it has a crispy shell, or whether or not the vegetables are cooked or raw. If anyone would like to weigh in on this in the comments, please feel free, because I am still confused.

So, anyway I am calling this shrimp tacos, but I think they maybe are more fajitas, oh my gosh...I just don't know. They are shrimp and veggies grilled in a grill pan and eaten in a warm soft taco, call it what you want.

Shrimp Tacos (but maybe fajitas)
Serves 4

1 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
1 red bell pepper, sliced
1 onion sliced
1 tablespoon chile powder
Juice from one lime
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup fresh cilantro chopped
4 tortillas
sour cream (for garnish)
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

Heat grill pan over medium high heat and saute until grill marks appear and pepper is crisp tender, about 2 to 3 minutes per side. Remove and do the same with sliced onions, and remove to bowl. Drizzle shrimp with olive oil and toss with chile powder, salt and pepper and garlic. Saute shrimp until pink about 2 minutes per side. Place shrimp in bowl with vegetables and toss with lime juice.

Warm tortillas following instructions on package, divide shrimp and vegetables among the tortillas, top with fresh cilantro and sour cream.

This was pretty good and very easy to put together from things I had in the fridge and in the freezer. One thing I have to mention is that if you are using a grill pan, a lot of the minced garlic falls down into the ridges and even though you are turning the shrimp, the garlic just stays down in the ridges and gets too brown. So, if you are using a grill pan, you might want to just toss the garlic into the bowl right at the end and let the residual heat of the shrimp sort of cook it a little. Also, my grill pan is pretty small, so I had to do it in phases, more like a stir fry.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Positive Thinking 101


Today I went to the office supply store and bought supplies for my classroom. Every teacher gets a limited amount of money that they can use to buy things that they need for their classroom.

Now, some of you pessimistic, negative, naysayers (and you know who you are), are thinking, but Pam, it's April, school is almost over!! Why are you buying things for your classroom now?? What have you been doing this whole school year???

Shame on you people! Let's look at what the positive, optimistic, glass-half-full people are thinking. They are thinking, why Pam, it's only April and you are all ready buying things for the next school year! The next school year doesn't even begin until August. Good for you!

Yep, I am so far behind that I would like to think that I am actually ahead of the game. What a brilliant concept this is. Oh, and after watching Jamie at Home on the Food Network, I find myself saying "brilliant" and "genius" all the time. In my head, I hear myself saying it with a lovely British accent, but I can't do a British accent, so I just go around saying it in an odd, stilted sort of way. Sorry... back to my brilliant idea. All you have to do is get so far behind, you are ahead. Think of all the areas of your life that you can apply this to, like, I am so behind with last weeks laundry, that I am early on next week's.

See, don't you feel better about your life all ready? You can thank me later. And in case you're wondering why there is a picture of Scrappycat to start off this post. Well, she ended up not being the harbinger of my early demise and I think that's pretty darn positive!

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Beef and Bean Chile Verde

Chile Verde

A respectable chili recipe prepared in under 40 minutes. Impossible you say? I say possible!

I have recently become enamored with Eating Well magazine. I love the way they manage to incorporate all kinds of fruit and vegetables in their recipes. I especially love their recipes that fall into their "healthy in a hurry" category. These recipes really do take the few minutes that they say (unlike some 30 minute recipes, which take me at least an hour).

This chili is a wonderful example. It really went together in under 40 minutes, was very easy, and the taste really had a long simmering flavor. Now, I have to caution you. The heat of this chili depends a lot on the salsa verde that you use. I, apparently, used a hot one, and the chili was quite spicy, much to the delight of my husband. I, however, could have stood for it to be a little milder.

The recipe can be found on their website: Beef and Bean Chile Verde, and I've also included it below.

Beef and Bean Chile Verde
from Eating Well Jan/Feb 2008
Serves 4

1 pound 93%-lean ground beef
1 large red bell pepper, chopped
1 large onion, chopped
6 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper, or to taste
1 16-ounce jar green salsa, green enchilada sauce or taco sauce
1/4 cup water
1 15-ounce can pinto or kidney beans, rinsed

Cook beef, bell pepper and onion in a large saucepan over medium heat, crumbling the meat with a wooden spoon, until the meat is browned, 8 to 10 minutes. Add garlic, chili powder, cumin and cayenne; cook until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Stir in salsa (or sauce) and water; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover and cook, stirring occasionally, until the vegetables are tender, 10 to 15 minutes. Stir in beans and cook until heated through, about 1 minute.

Weekend Herb Blogging

I know I'm cheating, by using a jarred salsa has my herb of choice. But I love, love, love, salsa verde. It has my very favorite herb, cilantro. So, this will be my entry for this week's Weekend Herb Blogging , hosted this week by Ramona at The Houndstooth Gourmet.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Butternut Squash Risotto

Butternut Squash Risotto

I know it's spring (or at least the calender here says so), and butternut squash is autumn in all it's glory, but I still have some laying around. I purchased several back when it was on sale for a ridiculously low price, and have successfully stored it in my basement/garage. But I need to get it used up, because my mind is turning to asparagus and fresh peas!

I've made lots of risottos, and to tell the truth they are not difficult, they just need watching and tending to. The creamy, comfort food, appeal is well worth the babying they require. Even though I do not mind making them the old-fashioned way, this time I decided to try the version in The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook : 250 No-Fail Recipes for Pilafs, Risottos, Polenta, Chilis, Soups, Porridges, Puddings and More, from Start to Finish in Your Rice Cooker by Beth Hensperger and Julie Kaufmann. I love this cookbook, but I really didn't care that much for the risotto. Don't get me wrong it was good, better than not having any risotto at all, and perfectly acceptable if it is your only option, but I don't think it is as good as regularly made risotto. It was a little too gummy. After the initial sauteing is completed, they give you the option of resetting the machine for the Porridge cycle, or changing to the regular cycle, but setting a timer for just 20 minutes. I chose to reset for the porridge cycle, but I think it really only needed 20 minutes on the regular. So, if I do try this again, that's how I'm going to do it.

Butternut Squash Risotto
adapted from The Ultimate Rice Cooker Cookbook

2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2/3 cup finely chopped onion
1 cup, plus 2 tablespoons Arborio rice
2 cups peeled, seeded and diced butternut squash (about 1/2 inch dice)
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 cups chicken stock

to finish:
2 teaspoons unsalted butter
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/4 cup minced fresh Italian parsley
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Set the cooker for the regular cycle. Place the olive oil and butter in the bowl, and when the butter melts, add the onion. Cook until softened about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir with a wooden spoon or the plastic rice paddle until all the grains are coated. Cook, stirring a few times, until the rice starts to become translucent, with a small white spot left in the center. Add the squash, water and stock and stir. Close the cover and reset for the porridge cycle, or for the regular cycle and set a timer for 20 minutes.

When the machine switches to the Keep Warm Cycle, stir. Before serving, add the butter and let it melt. Stir in the lime juice, parsley, cheese and salt to taste.

Monday, March 24, 2008

Orange-Nut Biscotti


Well, yesterday, I finally started feeling a little better. I had a little bit more energy so to celebrate I did 2 loads of laundry, cleaned the bathroom and cooked dinner. Ahhh...the house has missed me. And then today it was back to school. I think I shall from now on refer to last week as the spring break that wasn't! But I am glad to be back at school, not for any noble reasons, but just because this begins the last nine weeks! It's all downhill from here! Really though, this last nine weeks is going to be so stressful and crazy, it will be pure h-e-double-l on me (obscure Tammy Wynette reference to those of you in the know). But enough whining, on to the biscotti.

I love biscotti. It is one of my favorite dessert type things to cook. It makes a great light ending to any dinner, and it's the perfect snack for after school, with a cup of tea (makes you feel all fancy and stuff). And as usual, never content with what I know or have tried, I am always trying new biscotti recipes. So, when I saw this one in Mark Bittman's The Best Recipes in the World, I had to try it.

Orange-Nut Biscotti
Makes 3-4 dozen

1 cup almonds or hazelnuts
3/4 cup sugar
2 cups flour
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
3 eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla or almond extract (I used vanilla)
Zest of 1 orange (I used a tangerine)
1 to 2 tablespoons of milk

Preheat oven to 375. Toast nuts in a dry skillet over medium heat, until they start to color and they start to give off a toasted fragrance (about 3 to 4 minutes).

Combine the sugar, flour, salt, and baking powder in a food processor; pulse to blend the ingredients. Add eggs, vanilla, and zest. Process until it forms a dough ball. Be sure and give this plenty of time, I didn't and thought it was too dry and added the milk, and then I ended up with very wet dough. Add the nuts and pulse a few more times, you don't want to the nuts pulverized, just chopped lightly.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a 2-inch-wide log.

Bake until golden about 30 minutes. Remove from the oven and lower the temperature to 250. When the loaves are cool enough to handle, cut with a serrated knife on the diagonal into 1/2 inch thick slices. Put the slices back on the cookie sheet and back into the oven for 15 to 20 minutes, turning once halfway through. Cool on wire racks.


These were very good. Very fresh tasting. The texture was perfect, not to crisp, but not soft and chewy. I think it was the second baking at 250. I usually don't lower the temperature when I do the second baking and I think it makes a difference. Also, these have no butter! Some biscotti call for butter and some (especially those trying to be low fat) don't. These really didn't need the butter, I didn't miss it at all. This is a great basic recipe, easy to change up and modify. I think I might try them with lemon zest and pine nuts!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Kate's Pasta

Kates Pasta

How lucky am I? Very. On Tuesday, my youngest, Kate, arrived home from college for spring break. She was actually only going to stay a couple of days, you know..young, free, places to go, people to see. But even for those 2 days, she was such a blessing!

The first thing she did was run to the grocery store to pick up a few things for dinner. Then she proceeded to whip up this pasta! It was so good. I could only eat about a fourth of what I would normally eat, but oh my gosh, it was heaven! Oh, and did I mention one of the only benefits of the flu..I've lost 10 pounds!!! Of course, if Kate was here everyday, I would probably gain it back in no time.

So, without further ado, I bring you Kate's pasta:

Kate's Pasta
Serves 4 (unless one of them is sick with the flu)

1 1/2 tablspoons butter
1 1/2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups of chicken broth
1 lb Italian sausage
1 bunch asparagus
1 lb bowtie pasta
1/2 cup of sundried tomatoes
kosher salt
fresh ground pepper

Brown sausage and set aside. Melt butter and then stir in flour. Whisk in broth slowly until the consistency of your choice. Steam asparagus and cook pasta. Soak sundried tomatoes and chop them. Toss pasta, sausage, sundried tomatoes, and asparagus in white sauce. Salt and pepper to taste.

Isn't she amazing! That's my girl. Then on Wednesday I had an appointment to get my hair highlighted. I had scheduled it over 2 weeks ago, when I was healthy (seems so long ago)! I was determined to go. I figured I could drag myself out of the house for a couple of hours, it was my spring break afterall! Since I was still so weak, Kate took my keys and would not let me drive! I kept insisting that she give them back, but really this is probably the one time when she could have kicked my butt! So, she drove me, while I hunched over in the passenger seat, clutching my purse, like some old lady. My highlights do look fine though!

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Oh No! The Flu

Yep, in case you've been wondering where I've been, I've had the flu. If you have managed to be one of the few people who have not caught the flu this year, consider yourself very, very lucky. This is nasty! I have just spent the better part of four days in bed. I am trying to stay out of bed today for longer and longer stretches of time, because I would like to salvage some of my spring break! Yes, this is my spring break! I became sick the very day spring break started! Oh, and I had such plans for spring break: a trip to the used bookstore, shop for a new pair of spring sandals, get my hair highlighted, grocery shop in my new exciting way...pathetic, I know, but hey, now I can't even do that!!

One small spot of comfort through all this has been my old lady cat, Scrappycat. She has spent every moment curled up on the bed with me, only getting up to eat and use the litter box and occasionally guarding the door to my room. At one point, I was lying sprawled across the bed, hiking up pajama legs and sleeves, trying to expose burning flesh to the cool air (and for those porn people who just found this site by searching for exposed flesh, sorry, you've come to the wrong place, there was nothing hot or exciting about it...well, it was hot, but definitely not exciting), and I see her all curled up and it feels a smidgen better. Then I remembered this show I saw on TV about a cat in a nursing home who could sense when people were dying, and she would go lie on their bed and be with them when the died, and then she would get up and go to another person's bed, and so on. I struggled to bring Scrappycat into focus (I wasn't wearing my glasses), and see if I could sense any ulterior motive. I wanted to ask, "Hey, Scrappy, did you happen to see that show about the cat in the...", but I couldn't talk because my throat hurt. And then thank goodness, I remembered that there is where Scrappy sleeps every day. It wasn't Scrappy coming to me, it was me coming to Scrappy. Okay, good, crisis adverted.

I am a side sleeper and one of the things my chiropractor always said was to sleep with a pillow between your knees to relieve pressure on your back. After the first 24 hours or so in bed, my back was killing me (above and beyond the flu pain), so I tried it, and it works! It really works! The logistics of it are kind of cumbersome. I would lie on one side, place pillow between knees, close eyes, and lie there in agony. You see, you hurt way to much too sleep, but you cannot, I repeat, cannot, keep your eyes open. So, you lay on one side, until your neck becomes stiff, then you remove the pillow, turn over, reposition pillow, and repeat about 15 million times over the course of the next 4 days. The was extremely challenging during the "chills" part of the ordeal, because then this maneuver must be done while under a sheet, a quilt, and a big heavy comforter.

Well, I believe that I have come to maximum of my staying up time, and I'm going to go back to bed for a little nap. One last note, I logged on to Google reader, my goodness, people, I had 656 items to read!!! You are a prolific bunch. But I had to mark them all as "read". I really couldn't face trying to read through all that. And I know I've probably missed some brilliant posts, and I'm sorry for that, but really, 656!! Even if I spent 30 seconds per post, that would be...well, I don't know how long that would be, but it seems like it would be quite a long time!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

How Do You Shop For Groceries?

Yes, I want to know, how do you do your grocery shopping? See, I am thinking about changing the way I shop for groceries. To those of you who are wondering why I think changing the way I shop for groceries is important, let me just say, that it is. Change is big for me. I hate change. Hate it. Despise it. I am more than happy to do the same thing, day in and day out. As a matter of fact if you came to me and said, "hey, Pam, you just won a trip to Las Vegas, and you leave on Thursday," I would probably reply, "but, I wash clothes on Thursdays, the cold load." And I would mean it, because that is what I do on Thursdays.

So, I'm thinking about changing the way I grocery shop. Right now, I plan my whole week's menu in advance. This is usually based on what meat, pork, chicken, or seafood that I have in my freezer. I peruse multiple cookbooks, until I find what I want to make, trying to even it out, so that we don't have 3 chicken meals that week, or that I have included seafood. This has worked fine. The problem is the new grocery store that I'm shopping at. It has all this wonderful produce that is not on my list, so I walk by the sweet, tiny fresh carrots, the bright green baby bok choy, and pick up only what is on my list because after all, I have an entire week's menu planned. So, I think I might change it up. Shop and buy what looks good, and then come home and decide what to make with it.

This is really scary to me. It's like jumping without a parachute. I will still definitely have to plan a menu for the week. When I come from teaching school all day, the last thing I want to do is think too much. I like knowing what I'm doing. The difference would be that I would plan my menus after the fact. I guess the key to this is having a well stocked pantry.

Help me people, how do you grocery shop? What works good for you?

And to reward you for reading all this dribble drabble, I've included a picture of my cat, Smudge.


Tuesday, March 11, 2008

My New Love!


In an effort to eat healthier and try to do my part to help the planet, I have started shopping our local natural foods store, Greenlife Grocery. It is about 15 miles away, as opposed to the less than 2 miles for my closest Bi-Lo, but I think the trade-off is worth it. After seeing the horrible way the animals are treated at regular processing plants and farms, I just couldn't bring myself to continue to buy the mass produced meat at the store. I know it's going to cost more (a lot more!), but I am hoping that I am helping at least a little bit.

The selection at Greenlife is wonderful! Baby bok choy, yes. Watercress, yes! Really I'm staggered by the gorgeous produce. But what is really amazing is the dairy selection. Who knew their were so many kinds of yogurt!!! So, I started trying a new one each week. But when I tried Seven Stars Farm brand of yogurt, there was no turning back. This stuff was amazing!!! When I was opening the container, a little bit of it got on my hand, and I licked it off, and it tasted like butter. Really, the top layer was like buttery cream. I stirred it all together, and this is seriously the richest creamiest yogurt ever. Yes, I know that this was the full fat version, but it was way better than any full fat version I've ever had. I used some of it to make some homemade yogurt, and used 2% percent milk, and it was definitely the best homemade yogurt I have ever made. I have since bought some of their lowfat yogurt, and while it was not as fantastic as the full fat, it was still the best lowfat yogurt.

If you have the opportunity to try some of this yogurt, please do, and let me know what you think!

Thursday, March 6, 2008

WHB - Bacony Barley Salad with Marinated Shrimp

Barley Shrimp Salad

I have some issues with weather this time of the year. Yes, it can be gorgeous, but it's also very unpredictable. A problem sometimes occurs when I am planning the next week's menu. On the day, I planned this week's menu, it was gorgeous...warm, sunny, temperature a perfect 65 degrees. This salad sounded fresh and springlike. Then the day rolled around that I was actually going to make this salad. It was a blustery 34 degrees, windy, and spitting snow flurries. Not the kind of weather that makes you say, "boy, I wish I had a nice, refreshing salad." But when I got home from a very stressful day at work, I could not muster the energy to rethink my original plan. So, I persevered with my salad, despite my misgivings.

I am so glad I did! This salad was amazing!!! Yes, I am partial to anything with cilantro and lime in it. But the combination of the chewy shrimp and barley, with the crisp bacon, and the yummy avocado, was fantastic. Really. I can not say enough good things about this salad. It was one of those, where we kept interrupting our eating to comment on how good it was. It also made great leftovers the next day. I served this on a bed of my favorite packaged lettuce mixes.

Also, this recipe called for cooked shrimp. And I never, ever, ever buy cooked shrimp, finding that it really lacks the flavor of shrimp you cook yourself. But for this recipe I did, and it worked fine! But one thing I did do, was that the shrimp was still a little cold after defrosting it, so before I drained the bacon grease in step 1, I sauteed the shrimp for just a minute or two to heat it up, and then drained the fat. Shrimp plus bacon fat is very, very good! I also didn't use the red onion because I don't care for raw onion, though on second thought, maybe I should have used it and tossed it in the bacon fat too! The recipe comes from Eating Well's Healthy in Hurry cookbook, and you can find it on their website here.

Bacony Barley Salad with Marinated Shrimp
Serves 4

3 strips bacon, chopped
1 1/3 cups water
1/2 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup quick-cooking barley
1 pound peeled cooked shrimp (21-25 per pound; thawed if frozen), tails removed, coarsely chopped
1/3 cup lime juice
2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
1/2 cup finely diced red onion
1/2 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 avocado, peeled and diced

1. Cook bacon in a small saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until crispy, about 4 minutes. Drain on paper towel; discard fat.

2. Add water and salt to the pan and bring to a boil. Add barley and return to a simmer. Reduce heat to low, cover and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, 10 to 12 minutes.

3. Combine shrimp and lime juice in a large bowl. Add the cooked barley; toss to coat. Let stand for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to allow the barley to absorb some of the lime juice. Add tomatoes, onion, cilantro and the bacon; toss to coat. Add oil and pepper and toss again. Stir in avocado and serve.


Showcasing my favorite herb cilantro, this will be my entry for Weekend Herb Blogging, hosted this week by Anna at Morsels and Musings.

And just to see if anyone is still reading this, are you having problems with my blog freezing up? I know on my computer at school, it hangs for a really long time. Here at home, with high speed internet, I find that I have to wait a few minutes before I can scroll. I think that it may have something to do with my Amazon links, what do you all think? Any helpful advice?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Chicken Piccata with Pasta and Mushrooms

Chicken Piccata

Chicken Piccata is one of my favorite dishes. It is basically a recipe containing chicken cutlets, capers, lemon, and white wine. I found some lovely sounding recipes, at Simply Recipes , and this one from Bon Appetit.

As I said above, chicken piccata is usually made with chicken cutlets. If you are scrutinizing my photo, you may be thinking that it looks like an awfully big chicken cutlet! It is. I just go with boneless chicken breasts. I can never find cutlets, and I'm too lazy to butterfly it, or cut it in half. Bonus...if you look at the link above for Simply Recipes, Elise has pictures on how to butterfly the chicken breasts. This recipe is modified from the January/February issue of Eating Well magazine. The original recipe can be found here.

Chicken Piccata
(adapted from Eating Well)
Serves 4

6 ounces whole-wheat angel hair pasta
1/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
1/2 teaspoon salt, divided
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
4 chicken breasts, skinless, boneless
3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1 8-ounce package mushrooms, sliced
3 large cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup white wine
2 tablespoons lemon juice
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup of shredded parmesan cheese

1. Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Add pasta and cook until just tender, 4 to 6 minutes or according to package directions. Drain and rinse.

2. Meanwhile, whisk 5 teaspoons flour and broth in a small bowl until smooth. Place the remaining flour in a shallow dish. Season chicken with 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper and dredge both sides in the flour. Heat 2 teaspoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium high heat. Add the chicken and brown on both sides for around 2 minutes per side. After the second side has browned, reduce the heat to medium and cover the pan. Let cook for approximately 8 minutes, until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken to platter and keep warm.

3. Heat the remaining 1 teaspoon oil in the pan over medium-high heat. Add mushrooms and cook, stirring, until they release their juices and begin to brown, about 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate. Add garlic and wine to the pan and cook until reduced by half, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the reserved broth-flour mixture, lemon juice and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt. Bring to a simmer and cook, stirring, until the sauce is thickened, about 5 minutes.

4. Stir in parsley, capers, butter and the reserved mushrooms. Measure out 1/2 cup of the mushroom sauce. Toss the pasta in the pan with the remaining sauce. Serve the pasta topped with the chicken and the reserved sauce. Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.

This was good, and very satisfying. I do think that it would have been better with the cutlets. Cutlets = more crispy edge. More crispy edge = good. So, next time I will try to not be lazy, and butterfly the breasts.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Nouveau Nicoise

Nouveau Nicoise

Do you want a one pot meal, that doesn't look or taste like a traditional one pot meal? Then this salad is for you! It is absolutely brilliant, the way everything cooks in one pot, and then comes together so perfectly in this healthy main dish salad!

This recipe actually comes from The EatingWell Healthy in a Hurry Cookbook: 150 Delicious Recipes for Simple, Everyday Suppers in 45 Minutes or Less, my current favorite cookbook. You also find the recipe here, and I've included it below.

Nouveau Nicoise
4 servings

8 cups water
8 ounces green beans, trimmed and halved
8 small red potatoes
2 eggs
1/4 cup minced shallots
1/4 cup red-wine vinegar
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 cups mixed salad greens
2 6-ounce cans chunk light tuna, drained
12 Nicoise or Kalamata olives

1. Bring water to a boil in a 3- to 4-quart saucepan. Add green beans and cook until just tender and bright green, 1 to 2 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the beans to a colander, rinse under cold water and set aside in a large bowl. Carefully place potatoes and eggs into the boiling water. Cook the eggs until hard, 12 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the eggs to the colander, rinse under cold water until cool and set aside. Continue cooking the potatoes until fork-tender, 3 minutes more. Drain the potatoes; rinse under cold water until cool enough to handle.

2. Meanwhile, combine shallots, vinegar, mustard, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Slowly whisk in oil.

3. Cut the potatoes into quarters or eighths, depending on their size. Add to the bowl with the beans. Add greens, tuna and the dressing. Toss well. Peel the eggs and cut into wedges. Divide the salad among 4 plates. Top with egg wedges and olives. Serve immediately.

Nouveau Nicoise

This is so good, and so easy. We had leftovers for the lunch the next day and it was just as good. I highly recommend this cookbook to anyone wanting to cook healthy, but with not a lot of time to do it in. I've made 3 recipes from it this week, all of them wonderful!

Sunday, March 2, 2008

What Just Happened?

It's Friday afternoon and the bell has rung. All of the children are running off to catch buses or hop into waiting cars. I stop W. as he runs out the door of the classroom.

I say, "Hey, you are missing 8 assignments in Social Studies, 7 in Science and 4 in Math, and I don't even have the heart to check on how much you are missing in Language Arts. You have to work on some of these assignments this weekend. I'm not kidding. I'm serious. You really have to complete some of this work. I'm really, really serious."

He looks up at me through a perpetual fringe of bangs and says, "If there are aliens, why don't we know about them?"

I look at him, blink slowly once or twice, and reply, "We? You mean, like you and me. Us?"

He smiles broadly and says, "No, scientists. If there are aliens, why don't scientists know about them?"

I slump against the wall and reply, "I don't know."

He smiles at me and runs off to catch the bus.