Friday, June 26, 2009

Food Friday - Fettucini w/ Brussels Sprouts

Fettucini with Brussels Sprouts

3/4 pound brussels sprouts, trimmed
1/2 pound dried egg fettucini
1 tbsp butter
1 tbsp olive oil
3 tbsp pine nuts
parmesan cheese
lemon juice

Slice brussels sprouts into ribbons.

Cook fettucini until al dente.

Meanwhile, heat butter and olive oil in a skillet over medium heat until foam subsides. Add pine nuts and cook 2-4 minutes stirring constantly. Add brussels sprouts, salt and pepper to taste. Cook over medium-high heat until tender and lightly browned, about 4 minutes.

Reserve 1/2 cup pasta-cooking water, then drain pasta and return to pot. Add brussels sprouts mixture to pot. Add parmesan and enough cooking water to moisten. Add lemon juice to taste.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

If the elevator tries to bring you down, go crazy.

Mary has mentioned how much she loves lasagna a couple of times this summer. So, I made a vegetable lasagna the other day. I added eggplant, zucchini, red pepper and mushrooms to the sauce and cooked spinach to the ricotta. And after weeks of great dinner behavior, Food Battle 2009 suddenly reared its ugly head.

We had been planning to go out for ice cream and a trip to the park after dinner. But if you want ice cream, you've got to eat dinner. And Mary wouldn't. First, she ate all the cheese off the top of her piece. She picked out all the noodles and ate those. Then, she stopped eating. And started stirring the remaining vegetables and ricotta around in the bowl while singing to herself about how gross it was. For an hour.

So, we canceled ice cream and the park. And she lost it. She was sent to her bed where she proceeded to literally wail about how unfair it all was. I have a video of her door through which you can hear the ridiculousness of it (and me snickering in the background). It's hilarious; you'd think we had just amputated some of her fingers without anesthestic. I was going to post it here.

But then, this morning, I backed into the garage door. And I completely lost it. I stormed into the house and threw my coffee cup into the sink. I went back outside to look at it and started screaming about how "We can't afford this. We can't even afford to drive the car, let alone wreck it." I slammed some doors. I slammed a couple of them multiple times. Then, I sat down and cried. Wailed, really.

The door is, um, completely screwed up. And there's a huge dent in the back of the car. And we can't afford an accident like this right now. Or ever. It sucks. The one bright spot is that there is no video of me freaking out about it.

Obviously, I won't be posting the video of Mary's bedroom door. Here's one of Thomas instead.

Will Talk for Food ... Sort Of from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Crazy Baby

Thomas gets a little punchy about an hour before bedtime. Also note, in true McNolty family fashion, the blaring television in the background. Good times.

Crazy Baby from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Food Friday - Falafel Pita and Lentil Salad

This meal is a little more involved than most of the dishes in my rotation but it's worth every second you put into it. I used to make my own pita too but since it involves opening up a 500 degree oven every two to four minutes I haven't done it since Thomas was born. It also turns the whole meal into a five hour ordeal so I wouldn't recommend homemade pita unless you've got someone you really need to impress.

Traditionally falafel are formed as little balls. I recommend forming them into patties instead; they're much easier to fry.


1 cup dried / 1 can chickpeas
1/2 large onion, roughly chopped
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh parsley
2 tbsp finely chopped fresh cilantro
4 cloves garlic
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp salt
1/2 - 1 tsp red pepper flakes
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 - 1/2 cup flour


Put chickpeas in a large bowl and cover with cold water. Soak overnight, then drain. Or use drained and rinsed canned chickpeas

Place chickpeas, onions and garlic in the bowl of a food processor fitted with a steel blade. Process until blended but not pureed (you may need to work in two batches). Add fresh herbs and spices and pulse to mix.

Move mixture to a bowl. Stir in baking powder and 1/4 cup flour. Add flour until the dough no longer sticks to your hands. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Form the chickpea mixture into patties. Heat oil in a skillet and fry 1 patty to test. If it falls apart, add a little flour. Fry patties for a few minutes on each side until golden brown. Drain on paper towels.
Brush patties with olive oil and bake in 350 degree oven for 15-20 minutes, turning once.

Stuff half a pita with falafel, chopped tomatoes, lettuce, etc. Drizzle with yogurt and/or tahini.

Lentil Salad

3/4 cup green or brown lentils, rinsed
1/2 cup brown rice
1 1/2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
1 cup cucumber, diced
1/3 cup fresh dill, chopped

1 clove garlic, crushed into paste
1/2 tsp salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil
1/4 cup lemon juice
1/4 tsp black pepper

Cook rice.

Cover lentils with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat and simmer partially covered 25-20 minutes. Drain.

Sprinkle garlic with salt. Mash into paste with side of a chef's knife.

In bowl, whisk together garlic paste, oil, lemon juice and pepper

Toss lentils and rice with dressing. Cool to room temperature and add tomatoes, cucumber and dill

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Green Things

I'm doing some container gardening. Thomas and Mary like to help water. I wasn't sure that anything would really produce in a pot so I just bought a grape tomato, a green pepper, a strawberry and a watermelon. The watermelon is the most experimental. I have no idea if we'll get anything off of it. The strawberry should have done well but somehow I managed to drown it. But the tomato and the green pepper are going like gangbusters.

Look at all those tomatoes. Only one has turned red even though its younger than the others; you can just barely see it peaking through. I have big plans for that one little tomato.

I have four green peppers already! They only grow to about 4 inches long so two of them should be ready to pick in a week or so.

The clothesline is my greenest endeavor, though that's not why I did it. Our dryer is broken. It tumbles but doesn't produce any heat. Eventually, we'll get it fixed but we don't know anyone here who can help us and we don't want to pay a repairman right now. So, I strung up a clothesline. My pride at having done this is way out of proportion to the actual accomplishment. I'm kind of glad that the dryer broke. I never would have hung a clothesline otherwise. Twenty-five dollars, my incredible handiness (I learned how to tie a knot!) and we can dry our clothes for free for the rest of the summer. Now if the dryer would just magically repair itself.

Friday, June 5, 2009

Food Friday - Lentils, Peppers and Tofu

Lentils, Peppers and Tofu

This dish has officially ousted falafel from the top spot on Jeremy's list of favorite foods. I think that's insane but is this way easier to make so I'm not complaining. And don't get me wrong it's really good. It's just not fried chickpeas good.

There is a secret to making tofu that tastes good, not mushy and bland. The key is to freeze and then thaw your tofu. Then, press the water out. Squeeze out as much as you can with your hands without mangling it. Wrap a tea towel around the block. Put it between two plates and set something heavy on top. I use a big book and a 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes. Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour.

This process completely changes the texture of tofu. It turns out chewy and toothsome instead of slimy. Then, pan fry it. If you want it a bit crispy, you'll have to use a fair bit of oil. It's also totally great with just a teaspoon or two of olive oil or couple shots of non-stick cooking spray.

Lentils, Peppers and Tofu

Adapted from A Veggie Venture*

1 onion, diced
2 red peppers, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp ginger, minced
1 cup lentils (black, brown, french work best, sub 1/4 cup of red lentils for creamier sauce)
1 can vegetable stock + water to make 3 cups
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp curry powder
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 block extra firm tofu, frozen, thawed, pressed and then cut into cubes

Saute onion and peppers over medium heat until soft, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic and ginger, saute another minute. Add lentils and broth. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer until lentils are soft, about 20 minutes. There will be some liquid left in the pot.

Heat 1-2 teaspoons of olive oil over medium heat. Sprinkle in cumin seeds, ground cumin, curry powder, and cayenne pepper. Cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add tofu and stir to coat with spices. Cook until browned, stirring occasionally.

Add tofu to the lentils and mix together. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve over rice.

*The original recipe added 5 ounces spinach to the lentils at the end of cooking. We really like the spinach the first time around but it ruins the leftovers for us. I always mean to divide the lentils in half and add the spinach to the portion we'll eat that night but I never remember.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

She's got mad skills.

Hula Hoop from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

New Backyard

We have a new backyard! It's awesome.

Yard Before

New Fence in January, No Grass for Months

Yard After

Patio Before

Patio After

Obviously, Thomas loves it out here. Mostly he likes to throw his toys out onto the patio and into the planters. He misses the front yard with all of its cars but it's wonderful to let him wander around outside and just keep an eye on him from the kitchen window.

In other news, we were sick, sick, sick. We wished for death but it didn't come. Now we're better and will grudgingly admit that the death wish was probably overkill. The end.

Thomas Jump

Thomas Jump from Leslie Ann McNolty on Vimeo.