Saturday, May 22, 2010

Mothers & Daughters

What could be more fun than Babes a la Mode? Babes AND THEIR MOMS a la mode, of course.

This month, in honor of Mother’s Day, we Babes decided to invited our mothers to join us. Give them a break from planning and preparing the food at all the other functions they attend, and let them sit back and relax.

As hostess, I set the theme around our mothers and asked everyone to bring a dish that was somehow connected to their moms. As we ate our dinner, we shared our recipes and the stories that went along with them.

For the main course, I prepared a delicious pork roast from the Lion House “Entertaining” cookbook. My mother works as an event coordinator at the Lion House (the perfect job for her, as she loves organizing big events). I laughed as I tried my best to prepare this somewhat fancy dish because, in the end, I ended up turning to my mom for help. Had to borrow a roasting pan from her, and then ask her if she thought it was cooked enough. So much for being an adult and trying to do it on my own….

Meili brought a tasty salad with cabbage, Ramen noodles, and homemade dressing. I especially loved the story she shared about how this was the only food item her family had to eat after an especially horrible, long, hot hike at Lake Powell.

Nikki brought a salad her mom makes that the mixes spinach with shell pasta, chicken, and red peppers. Nikki decided to share this with us because often her mom will call her up, tell her she has extra salad, and invite her over to take some of the leftover salad home. Perhaps it’s just a clever ploy by mother to make sure daughter comes home to visit?

Emily brought a tasty fruit salad that her mom often makes for family functions. The sour cream and coconut blended perfectly together with the sweetness of the other fruit.

Brooke brought some delicious dairy-free oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. I loved that this dessert connected Brooke and her mom both by dietary needs and tradition! But, as many daughters feel compelled to do, Brooke tried out a new improvement on her mother’s classic idea. She baked the dough in muffin tins, making sure to just slightly under-bake it. This caused the tops to fall in, which left a perfect divet in which place a large blob of vanilla ice cream. Delish!

I have to say my favorite dish of the evening was not a dish at all, but the drink brought by Ashley. She brought us all Shirley Temples, complete with Grenadine syrup and maraschino cherries. When Ashley was approaching young womanhood, her mother took her out to dinner, ordered her a Shirley Temple, and gave her the talk about the birds and the bees. Forevermore, I will connect that drink to Ashley and her coming of age!

Mother/daughter relationships are an interesting animal. (I know because I’m both a daughter and a mother to daughters.) They have the potential to be the closest, and yet the most volatile of family relationships. How often have you heard a grown woman bemoan the fact that she has “become her mother”? Or how many times have you heard a teenage daughter complain that her mother just doesn’t understand? But the thing here is that, whether a daughter likes to admit it, a mother actually understands pretty well, if not perfectly, as she’s been exactly at that place in her life before. She knows what it’s like to be a teenage girl, to face the pressures of cultural and family expectations for her, and sometimes that experience is viewed by daughters as an “I told you so “ attitude. A mother knows that it takes sacrifice, sometimes undervalued, to raise a strong family. A mother knows that sometimes your life turns out differently than you’d planned, but she also knows there’s beauty and mercy in this. And all these things, daughters could not know unless they make the journey to adulthood and motherhood. So mothers sit patiently by as their daughters dismiss their old-fashioned advice and perceptions, and live their lives, sometimes making the same mistakes they did, sometimes not. And the beauty of it is that often times, daughters make it full circle and end up turning back to their moms for advice (like I did with the pork).

As we sat around our tables with our mothers (and my grandmother), eating, talking, laughing, and enjoying the evening, Meili looked at me and mouthed the words, “I love this.”

And so did all the mothers and daughters in the room.

Brittany's Pork Tenderloin with Baked Apples

Place 5 lb pork tenderloin in roasting pan. Make seasoning by mixing together 1 tsp salt, 1/8 garlic salt, dash black pepper, 1/2 tsp rosemary. Lightly sprinkle seasoning mixture over pork. Cook in preheated oven at 350 for about 30 minutes or until brown, then add 1 C water. Cover with goil and cook for another 90 minutes at 225. Pull out of oven and let sit about 10 min before slicing. To make gravy, drain meat juices into pot. In a bowl, mix together 1/2 C water and 2 T cornstarch until smooth. Slowly add to pork juice, stirring constnatly over medium-low heat. To thicken gravy, add more cornstarch mixture until gravy reaches desired consistency.
To make baked apples, slice 4 Granny Smith apples and lay the slices on greased sheet pan. Sprinkle with 1 C brown sugar, and dribble with 4 T melted butter. Cook in preheated oven at 325 for about 15 min or until brown
Serve pork slices with baked apples and gravy.

Meili's Asian Noodle Salad

1 pkg. Ramen noodles (Oriental flavor)
2 Tbs. sugar
2 Tbs. sesame seeds
1 head cabbage, shredded
1/4 C vegetable oil
1/2 C sliced almonds or cashews
4 green onions

Mix seasoning packet from soup with sugar and oil. Set aside. Toast almonds, watching carefully. (Once they start to toast, it won't take long for them to burn.) As soon as you see the almonds have started to brown, toss the sesame seeds in the pan with them and toast them together. Mix cabbage and green onions together. Just before serving, combine everything together and toss lightly with crumbled Ramen noodles.

Nikki's Spinach-Pasta Salad w/ Chicken
1-2 cups shell or elbow pasta
1 lb. cooked cut up chicken
1 cup chopped red sweet peppers
1/3 cup bottled creamy caesar dressing
salt and pepper to taste
1 6oz. baby spinach (I didn't use whole bag)
4 oz. crumbled feta cheese (I didn't use this much)

Cook pasta as directed on package.
Combine pasta, chicken an peppers.
Drizzle w/ salad dressing.
Toss to coat. Season w/ salt and pepper.
Before serving add spinach leaves and feta cheese. Add additional dressing if neccessary.

Emily's Fruit Salad
1 small can of mandarin oranges (drained)
1 can of pineapple chunks (drained)
1 cup (more or less if desired) mini marshmallows
chopped walnuts or sliced almonds
1 sliced banana.
8 oz sour cream

Mix together, add banana right before serving. Refrigerate.

Brooke's Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
350 degrees 8-9 minutes

1 C Shortening
3/4 C sugar
3/4 C brown sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 t water
2 eggs
1 t baking soda
1 t vanilla
1 1/2 C flour
2 C Oatmeal
1/2 bag chocolate chips

Ashley's Shirley Temples

1/4 cup lemon-lime flavored carbonated beverage
1 1/2 tablespoons grenadine syrup
1 maraschino cherry
In a highball glass, over ice, combine lemon-lime soda and grenadine. Stir well and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Rocket Salad

My great friend Becky made a heavenly salad for the baby shower she threw for me two years ago. I gobbled up several helpings that afternoon, and have been making it for myself and my family ever since. It is one of the more flavorful salads you will ever taste, and the easiest to make.

Mix one part lemon juice with two parts olive oil. Add kosher salt and black pepper to taste. Toss this simple dressing with arugula, making sure not to soak the lettuce too much. You want to barely coat the arugula, not drown it. Then sprinkle a generous portion of shaved parmesan over the top and enjoy!

I did this as if to make myself a salad, then added a heaping handful to my smoked turkey wrap. Just turkey, avacado, and this beautiful arugula salad, wrapped in a flour tortilla. The arugula is peppery and fresh. Perfection.

P.S. The name comes from Italy. I was fortunate enough to accompany my grandpa and his new wife to Rome a few years ago, and every meal we ate included, what translated to, "rocket salad." We couldn't figure out what kind of lettuce it was until we came home and discovered it was arugula.