Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Happy Leap Day!

Growing up I always felt a bit sorry for kids who were born on a Leap Day. They really only got to have birthdays once every 4 years. Rough.

Now that I am older I am kind of envious. Leap Day babies literally get to stay forever young. So, if today is your birthday put on your dancing shoes and celebrate! A big Happy Birthday to you from Rice Pot Mama!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Chicks, Worms and Chicken

This past Sunday we took the kids to our niece's house as she just became the proud mama of a dozen baby chicks. The entire morning leading up to the visit Nate had been talking about holding a baby chick. He even showed us how he was going to hold one. Just as our niece grabbed one to hand to our son, it pooped on her.  He was no longer interested. Poop was gross. This was the closest he would get to the chicks:

Worms, however, are not gross in his mind. When our niece's husband mentioned how they should hunt worms to feed the chickens Nate ran outside and started picking them up. I have to admit once they put the worms in the tub with the chicks I started to think the chicks were pretty gross too. The way the attacked the worms was a bit repulsive.

One thing that surprised us about the whole visit was that at some point Nate had already made the connection that chicks will grow up to become roast chicken, chicken nuggets, etc. It didn't seem to phase him that these cute little fluff balls could one day end up on his plate. He even suggested naming one Nugget!

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Roasted Duck Legs with Potatoes

I love to eat duck. If I am dining out at a restaurant and there is duck on the menu you can pretty much guarantee that that is what I will be ordering. I have not, however, cooked it. Most recipes I have found have seemed too complicated.

While at the grocery store the other day there were some duck legs on sale. I bought them on impulse. After Google-ing duck leg recipes I found this one from Nigella Lawson on the Food Network website. It is so incredibly easy and the flavors are fabulous! I've read a lot about duck fat fried potatoes but had never had them. Now I know what all the hype is about. This recipe tastes straight out of a French bistro but is essentially a one-pot wonder!

  • 2 duck legs
  • 2 baking potatoes or 1 pound other large white-skinned potatoes
  • Few sprigs of fresh thyme
  • Salt and pepper


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

On the stove, heat a small roasting pan or oven-safe skillet and sear the duck legs, skin-side down over medium heat until the skin turns golden and gives out some oil.

Turn the legs over, and take the pan off the heat while you cut the potatoes into 1-inch slices across, then cut each slice into 4. Arrange these potato pieces around the duck legs, then let a few sprigs of thyme fall over the duck and potatoes, and season with salt and pepper, before putting into the preheated oven.

Cook for two hours, occasionally turning the potatoes, for optimal outcome, which is tender duck legs and crispy potatoes, though both will be ready to eat after 1 1/2 hours.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Lent Suppers - Spaghetti with Red Clam Sauce

Lent is here which means it is time to have meatless meals on Fridays. We often have meat-free meals but I seem to really expand my repetoire during Lent. This is a recipe I clipped out of a magazine. I'm not sure which one but it is by Mark Strausman of the Coco Pazzo Italian restaurant in New York. It's super simple, is made up of mostly pantry items and tastes fabulous!

Spaghetti with Brooklyn Red Clam Sauce

Coarse salt
1 lb. spaghetti
1/4 c. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 cans (6 1/2 oz each) chopped clams, with their juice
1/4 c. dry white wine
1 c. canned crushed Italian plum tomatoes
1/4 t. crushed red-pepper flakes
Freshly ground pepper
1/4 c. chopped flat-leaf parsley
1 T. cold unsalted butter

Bring a large pot of water to a boil. Stir in 1 tablespoon salt and the spaghetti. Cook according to package instructions until al dente.

Meanwhile, make the sauce: Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat until hot but not smoking. Add garlic, and cook, stirring, until golden, about 5 minutes. Stir in clams with their juice, wine, tomatoes, and red-pepper flakes; season with salt and pepper (keep in mind that the clams are already quite salty). Reduce heat, and simmer until sauce is thickened slightly, about 5 minutes.

Drain pasta, reserving 1/2 cup cooking liquid. Stir pasta, parsley, and butter into sauce in skillet, and season with salt and pepper. If sauce doesn't coat pasta evenly, stir in a few tablespoons of the reserved pasta water. Cover, and cook 1 minute over medium-low heat. Serve immeadiately.

Be sure to serve with bread of some sort as you will want to sop up all of the wonderful sauce!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars

The moment I saw these brownies on the Brown Eyed Baker website I knew I had to make them. Sometimes I get such high expectations for a recipe but then it ends up being a bit of a let down. Boy these weren't! They exceeded my expectations! I've made them on numerous occasions and they have always been a hit. They are fudgey, chewy, gooey and crunchy...what more can you ask for?

I decided that these would be the perfect compliment to my care packages for some of my poor dorm food eating family members away at college. Short on time I admit I used a boxed brownie mix instead of making the brownies from scratch. Surprisingly it doesn't seem to be lacking anything! Here's how to do the shortcut version of this recipe:

Follow the instructions on the box of brownie mix. Bake. Add the marshmallows and return to the oven for 3 minutes. (Yes, that is my oven and yes it is filthy. A bacon cooking splattering that I haven't yet brought myself to clean. Sorry.)

The marshmallows will puff up into a gooey pillowy yuminess. Be sure to set a timer. I didn't once and forgot about the brownies. The marshmallows created a sticky charcoal mess all over the oven. (A worse mess than the bacon explosion)

Add the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter to a saucepan and melt. Stir constantly to avoid burning the chocolate.

Stir in the Rice Krispies and set aside to cool.

Smooth the chocolate mixture on top of the marshmallows. You might melt the marshmallows a bit if the chocolate is too warm. Don't worry as it you won't be able to tell once the brownies are cut into squares.

Cool completely then refrigerate to set the chocolate. Cut and serve!

Marshmallow Crunch Brownie Bars

Brownie mix + ingredients the mix requires
1 bag (10 1/2 oz.) miniature marshmallows
1 1/2 c. milk chocolate chips
1 c. smooth peanut butter (don't use natural peanut butter)
1 T. unsalted butter
1 1/2 c. Rice Krispies cereal

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9x13-inch pan.

Follow the instructions on the brownie mix and bake.

Once the brownies are cooked through sprinkle the marshmallows on top and return to the oven for 3 more minutes.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan melt the chocolate chips, peanut butter and butter. Stir constantly until completely smooth and melted. Remove from heat and add the Rice Krispies and mix well. Cool for a few minutes.

Spread the chocolate mixture over the marshmallow layer. Cool completely and then refrigerate until chocolate is set before cutting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Hawaiian Party Mix

I have nephew and a cousin away from home and in college. Throughout the week I'm going to be working on care packages for them. Aside from basic store-bought snacks like goldfish crackers I'm making some treats too. The first recipe is a Hawaiian Party Mix from my cousin-in-law Joann. It is highly addictive and easy to ship since it is so light.

Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.

Mix up all of the cereal and crackers together. Split the cereal mix evenly into two 9" x 13" pans or one extra-large roasting pan. Put in the oven for 15 minutes.

While the cereal mix is in the oven, combine the cooking oil, sugar, melted butter and corn syrup together in a sauce pan and stir until the sugar is dissolved.

Take out the cereal mix and pour the sweet mixture over the cereal mix. Mix well so that the sweet mixture is evenly distributed.

Then sprinkle the furikake over the cereal and mix again.

Put the pans back into the oven for 15 minutes.

Take out the pans, mix again, and put in the oven for another 15 minutes. If the mixture is still pretty wet, you can increase the temperature to 250 degrees at this time.

One last time, take the pans out, mix, and bake for another 15 minutes. The cereal mix should be in the oven for a total of an hour. Be sure to mix the cereal well each time you take the pans out or you will end up with a solid mass of cereal.


Cereal Mix:
2 boxes cereal (Chex, Crispix, Cheerios, etc.)
1 bag Oriental rice crackers
1 bag pretzels (optional)
1 bag nuts (optional)

Sweet Mix:
3/4 c. cooking oil
3/4 c. sugar
2 sticks butter, melted
3/4 c. corn syrup
1 bottle furikake*

*Furikake is a dry Japanese seaweed condiment found in most Asian grocery stores. Here is my favorite:

Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Beast

Yesterday we took our little man to see the Broadway musical Beauty and the Beast along with four of his cousins. Here is a synopsis in Nate's words:

"The Beast says roar. Then the Beast gets better."

That is sort of what happens. I'm not sure how much of the story he truly understood but I think it is important to expose kids to the arts early. Is almost 3-years old too early? He did sit through the show quietly. What do you think?

Friday, February 17, 2012


Is it possible? Can it be? While walking to the mail box I saw the first hint of Spring. Two tiny crocus flowers popping out of the ground. Those itty bitty little flowers have given me hope that sunny days are around the corner!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


Applesauce is a staple in our house. The kids love it. The hubby loves it. I love it. Typically we buy the sugar free stuff. Or the cool pouch kind which are great for when you are on the road.

Since I am home now I decided to make some from scratch. I searched for a recipe online and wow...there are a million ways to make applesauce. I settled on the following: 

4 apples, peeled, cored & cut into large chunks
1/2 c. water
1/2 t. cinnamon

Boil everything for about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and set aside to cool. Almost every recipe I found said to use a potato masher and mash to the consistency you like. I tripled the recipe so wasn't about to mash it all by hand. Instead I whipped out the handy immersion blender and it got the job done in no time.

I found that the applesauce was a bit liquidy at first but thickened once it completely cooled. It's one of the easiest things to make! Too bad I didn't think of doing this until the end of apple season. Hopefully I will be able to find some apples on sale to make more! The family loved it!

 Next time I am going to try adding vanilla extract. According to my friend Holly it makes the applesauce taste like it is sweetened without actually adding in any sugar!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Spreading the Love!

Love. What better way to start out this blog? Today is Valentine's Day and to celebrate we are sharing love (in the form of cookies) with family and neighbors.

It started with the cookie baking on Sunday and yesterday we had some kiddo friends over for decorating. (My first realization since becoming a stay-at-home mom is that you have to pace yourself and plan early as inevitably one of the kids will throw a wrench into your plans!). I used Bake at 350's cookie recipe and frosting. I was a bit shocked by the stiffness of the dough and the amount of flour required but it really did turn out perfect. I also decided to use vanilla bean paste instead of the extracts. The cookies retained their shape instead of melting into an unrecognizable glob and tasted great!

Sadly I managed to consume a good dozen during the last two days. My love handles are definitely feeling the love!