Friday, April 10, 2015

Spring is Here, and So Is the Food

I was driving yesterday, along a spot I pass at least three times a week.  It's a known and posted Bald Eagle nesting ground; there's at least one pair there.  I look all the time to see if I can spot the huge birds.  I can see their enormous nest, out on the end of the branches.  I look for them every time, and sometimes I think I see a head or two in the nest, but the trees are a couple hundred yards off the road, and I'm traveling at 40 mph, and then you add my getting-poorer-every-year vision and it's hard to say.  I've thought more than once that I need to bring my DSLR and really big zoom with me and pull off to see what I can see, but never remember to grab the things.  Yesterday, though, one of the birds was sitting at the top of the tree - how do those giant birds not even make the branch bend? - and even though he was just a dark shape, it was amazing.
Seeing the Eagle, I looked around at the landscape and realized that Spring has come.  The grasses are beginning to green up, the bulbs while not budded yet (at least in my yard) are taller and almost there, the trees have leafed out, some trees have blossomed and you can catch the sweet vanilla scent of them.  Many changes will be coming for my family with this Spring, and frankly, I'm not quite ready.  But there's little that can be done, so I'll just brace myself and take them one at a time the best I can.
It was a more quiet week for me, cooking-wise, in that I didn't and won't be cooking for my in-laws; my mother-in-law was sick on Monday and we're attending a wedding tonight.  That doesn't mean I don't have recipes for you, though.
I was hosting 26 people for Easter, so I was going with recipes that either, a) didn't require a lot of prep or b) I could set up the day before.  This Oreo Icebox Cake met the "b" requirement and so it went on the menu.  My daughter and I put it together - it's a build-it rather than bake it dessert.  We didn't have enough Oreos, even with two packages, to make three layers in a 9x13; the first of the mad dashes back to the store.  I drizzled the chocolate sauce over it before serving.  I was quite surprised when I cut into it that I could feel the cookies - I expected them to soften, given you dip them in milk before you start layering. Still, it was good - really good. Creamy, airy with that Oreo cookie-thing - though not crunchy like a stand-alone cookie.  As often happens, the kids and I discussed what we might do different and we agreed that we could do it in a 9x9/8x8 pan for just the family.  We will also do just two layers of Double-stuff cookies and use sweetened whipped cream. . .lightly sweetened whipped cream.  We thought a crunchy topping on top might be good - chopped nuts, chopped cookies, toffee bits - but they'd have to go on before serving, especially with whipped cream, as they would likely get a little soggy.
This Creamy Crock-pot Corn got the most raves of the day.  Not to be confused with Creamed Corn (we couldn't get my dad to even look at, despite the classification - he has a whole creamed corn childhood story going on.)  It was really good.  I doubled the "cream" portion of the recipe and added almost 64 ounces of corn; the amount of corn in the actual recipe is a little unclear.  I would probably put up to 32 ounces of corn with the stated cream mixture, much more than that and I'd look at doubling the cream.  The corn still had a crunch to it, even though it had cooked for a couple hours.  I will make this again - would be great with summer foods.
My mother-in-law wasn't feeling well on Easter.  By Monday evening she was doing better, but not quite up to snuff.  So hubby said, "just stay home" and I offered to whip up this 5 Minute Creamy Tomato Soup to send down to them (I included leftover green salad from Easter and a couple rolls.)  It is made cold, and so seasoning it was a bit tricky because I didn't heat it up here.  It seemed a little under-seasoned when I packaged it up, but heating it might have brought out more flavors.  The recipe makes enough for two, or a large single-serving.  Given its ease of prep and serving size, it would be a good one to freeze. 
Our Star-of-the-Show is always ham on Easter.  When I saw Sunny's Apple-Bourbon Ham Glaze on Food Network's The Kitchen, I knew I had my glaze - hello, Bourbon!  I did not use a spiral cut, boneless ham.  I had a bone-in, uncut ham.  I did score the top, cross-hatch-wise, but followed the recipe as stated; I used a thermometer instead of a timer.  It was really good - next time I'll reserve some glaze to serve on the side.  Hubby said it was the most moist ham he'd ever had, so I'll probably use the cooking technique again, regardless of the glaze that's on it.

Easter was supposed to be gorgeous, low 70's and sunny.  So I planned a lighter fare menu and the Pear and Quinoa Salad was just the ticket, with its Asian dressing.  I ended up tripling the recipe - which was too much, doubled would have been fine.  I did some prep on this the day before.  I cooked the quinoa and added the red peppers and dressing and let it chill overnight.  The remaining ingredients I left out until the day of because they have a "slim factor" if left to sit too long.  So a couple hours before we ate I added the pears (which I didn't peel), the green onions and the spinach.  Just before serving I tossed in the bacon and almonds. 

Time to get moving for the day.

Happy Friday,

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