This page has moved to a new address.

La Petite Maison Verte

La Petite Maison Verte: April 2010

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Meat-Free Monday

So its not that I have anything against meat per se, I just like eating meat-free meals too! When I lived in Maryland, fresh organic, free-range, antibiotic-free and grass-fed meat was easy to find in ANY supermarket. Here in eastern NC, not only is it heinously expensive but its usually frozen too...and you can only find it in ground-up form, not steaks. While I would like to say we only buy grass-fed beef, it isn't true. I know its much better for you but the cost is usually what keeps me from buying it every time. So lately I've been trying to prepare more vegetarian meals, and I don't just mean salads.

I also HATE wasting perfectly good food, which is sometimes difficult considering we're only a family of two. Well, a few weeks ago I bought a container of part-skim ricotta cheese for an appetizer that I never ended up making. It just sat in the back of the fridge, unopened, until I made baked-ziti last week. Since that only used half the container, I still had to figure out what to do with the rest of it.

Fast-forward to Sunday when I found this recipe on In Jennie's Kitchen for Lentil-Ricotta "Meatballs" - perfect! I got to use up my ricotta cheese AND try out a new vegetarian meal! I had all the ingredients, plus a jar of Trader Joe's Organic Marinara Sauce (its my FAVORITE pasta sauce because its much lower sodium than most) and some Dreamfield's Penne pasta. The ingredients for the meatballs have to be combined a day before you plan to cook them, so make sure you plan accordingly. But DO make this recipe, it was such a hit! Even B (a TOTAL skeptic) RAVED about it! They have a very soft texture and some of mine fell apart in the sauce even though Jennie said her's stood up to the simmering. But honestly, who cares if your delicous meatballs fall apart a little bit?!!

A few more notes about the recipe: After I cooked the lentils I went to puree them in my mini food processor. They kinda stuck to the sides of the bowl after a few seconds, so when all was said and done the lentil puree had some whole lentils in it - I liked the texture of the finished product, how you could see some whole lentils mixed in with the puree - that was pretty much the only hint that you weren't eating meat! I also added a little milk (a few tablespoons) to the mixture before putting it away to refrigerate overnight, I just thought it looked a tad dry. And my last modification was to add about a half-teaspoon each of onion powder, garlic powder and dried italian seasonings before forming the mixture into balls for frying.

Lentil Ricotta "Meatballs"
makes about 20

recipe was originally published at

2 cups cooked lentils, pureed
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
2/3 cup plain breadcrumbs
1/2 cup part-skim ricotta cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 teaspoon chopped parsley
1-2 TBSP milk, if needed, to moisten lentil-ricotta mixture
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Onion powder, garlic powder and italian seasoning, to taste

Canola oil for frying

Marinara sauce, optional

Add all ingredients to a deep bowl. Mix very well, using hands or a wooden spoon. Cover and refrigerate for two hours or overnight.

When ready to cook, shape mixture into 1 1/2-inch balls. Heat about 1/2-inch of oil in a nonstick skillet over medium flame. Add shaped "meatballs" and cook until browned all around, turning only once. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate and let excess drain off. Add to simmering marinara sauce if serving immediately, or store in a tightly covered container up to three days.

Labels: , , ,

Sunday, April 25, 2010

No Shirts Sundays

I never used to like Sundays, that was until I became a domestic-engineer. When I was in school full-time or working Monday through Friday, I started anticipating the return to the daily grind some time around 3 pm on Sunday afternoon. Every week like clockwork as Sunday afternoon would roll around my mood would change to one of subdued melancholy. It's not that I hated working or really disliked school, its just that I knew it would be another FIVE WHOLE DAYS until the next weekend. Pessimistic, sure, but that's just how it was.

Now that I don't have a job, one day is just the same as the next. The only thing that separates a Monday from a Saturday is the fact that my husband is usually around to hang out with me on the weekends :) Because I don't have to worry about working on Monday, I am free to really enjoy Sunday now, and I LOVE it!

This morning my hubby cooked some Old Fashioned oats for breakfast for the two of us. Mine were topped with brown sugar, fat-free half & half, golden raisins, whole almonds and sliced fresh strawberries. We enjoyed our oatmeal with some rich and smooth 100% Kona coffee we picked up on our trip to Hawaii a few weeks ago. Mmmm....

Our Sunday routine typically involves relaxing outside in the driveway in our Adirondak chairs, soaking up the sun (affectionately called "Dundalkin' It" by those of us who hail from the Baltimore suburbs) - my sister calls it "No Shirts Sunday" and I think that's just the perfect name for it (well, I wear a shirt but B usually doesn't). Then in the afternoon we usually bring Hudson to meet up with my friend Megan and her little Boston Terrier, Rosco, at the dog-park on base, followed by grocery shopping. Today was overcast so we just got a little yard-work done and made our weekly trip to the commissary. No matter what else we do on Sunday, we always make a delicious dinner to bring the weekend to an end.

Today was no exception. I made Chicken with Mustard Wine Cream Sauce which was served with some beautiful, crisp asparagus and a homemade Olive & Cilantro Bread. Without further ado, here is the recipe:

Sauteed Chicken with Mustard-Cream Sauce

Adapted from Everyday Food

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (6 ounces each)
salt & pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/4 cup dry white wine, or chicken broth (I used chardonnay)
1/2 cup heavy cream or half & half
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
½ tsp dried tarragon (or fresh; or you may substitute 1 tsp fresh thyme)
Garlic powder to taste (optional)

1. Sprinkle chicken breasts with salt and pepper. In a large skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken; saute until cooked through, 12-15 minutes, turning once. You may need to tent pan with foil or cover with lid for the last 2-3 minutes to insure chicken cooks through, depending on thickness of chicken breasts. Transfer to a plate and cover to keep warm.

2. Pour wine into hot skillet; cook, stirring, until reduced by half, about 1 minute. Whisk in cream, mustard, tarragon or thyme, and garlic powder (if using). Cook, whisking, until thickened, about 2 minutes.

3. Pour any accumulated chicken juices into sauce.

4. To serve: Pour a small amount of sauce onto plate, top with chicken (and any vegetables you are serving) and then drizzle remaining sauce over chicken.

This was a very delicious and elegant meal. I used a bright chardonnay in the sauce and then served the same wine with dinner. I forgot to pick up fresh tarragon at the store so this time I used dried herbs. I also lightened the sauce by substituting half the volume of cream for fat-free half & half. The sauce certainly didn't seem to suffer without the extra cream and I think it would be fine if you substituted half & half for the entire volume of cream. Very good, very quick, very simple. I'm sure it would be very good with some crispy oven-roasted potatoes or even a baked sweet-potato. We will certainly make this meal again, hopefully using fresh herbs next time!

Labels: , , , ,

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Why is it called "French Toast?"

Apparently, during WWII Americans wanted to distance themselves from everything German since they were "the enemy" at the time. As a result, what was once considered a German breakfast item then became termed "French Toast" - I guess we liked the French better during the 1940's.... Even though we now get along fine with Germany, I suppose the name stuck and it has been called French Toast ever since. That is until the French failed to support our government's position in the Iraq War and someone decided it was a good idea to call it Freedom Toast clever.

Anyhow, its French Toast to me (regardless of its actual country of origin - I've never seen it on the menu at any restaurant I visited in France). This morning my honey decided to sleep in a little later than usual but as for me, I just can't sleep once the sun wakes me up. Since he made me breakfast last weekend for our anniversary, I figured it was my turn to return the favor. Strawberries have been so inexpensive lately that I just can't resist picking up a carton every time I go to the grocery store. And we had a few bananas that would be too freckled to eat in just one more day or so...

So, I came up with Whole Wheat French Toast with strawberries and bananas. I don't have a recipe to share because french toast is just so simple. Just whisk up a few eggs with some milk, add a splash of vanilla extract (optional) and dip in your bread. Then fry it on both sides in a little butter over a medium-high heat. Serve, dusted with powdered sugar, and dripping with maple syrup. Enjoy!
Please forgive my photography, I'm still learning :)


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day

Today is Earth Day so in honor of celebrating our beautiful blue planet I thought I would get this blog started off with a posting about keeping things eco-friendly. Here at La Petite Maison Verte we try to be an eco-conscious family: we don't run electricity unnecessarily, we try to keep showers brief (sometimes difficult for me since I LOVE to linger in the steam and dread the moment when I will open the shower door and feel the cold blast of air), buy responsibly-produced and local goods, combine errands to conserve gas, and we are obsessive about recycling! I will recycle anything and everything. Brian thinks I'm a little crazy but I will even recycle plastic sandwich baggies. I'll usually re-fill them with the same thing they had previously stored (i.e. pretzels in a pretzel baggie, dog treats in a dog treat baggie, etc.). Although I usually only recycle bags that have contained dry snacks or inedible trinkets, I'll occasionally reuse a bag that contained a sandwich if it looks clean to me. I just wipe out the inside with a clean damp cloth and prop it open to air dry it. Am I crazy? Is this weird?! Am I the only baggie recycler out there?? In my mind, not only is it better for the planet but it also saves us money, so I think that until I find a better alternative for disposable sandwich bags I'll keep reusing them! How do you keep your home environmentally-friendly?

**For all those out there who are worried about the risk of food-borne illnesses from reusing sandwich bags: if you know me you will know that I'm a germaphobe and don't put myself or my hubby at unnecessary risk. I only re-use a bag once or twice before tossing it, or sometimes I'll even get one final use out of it when I take Hudson out for a walk...if you know what I mean ;)

**Have any of you seen the movie Blue Planet (1990)? It is a wonderful documentary with stunning images and aerial footage of Earth. I remember seeing it in the IMAX theater at the National Air and Space Museum when I was a kid and I remember being absolutely awe-struck! Although I'm sure its quite dated now, I recommend it if you haven't seen it!

Labels: ,


Hi and welcome to La Petite Maison Verte! For you non-French speakers, the title of my blog means "the little green house" which is a reference to our bungalow here in eastern North Carolina. I can't wait to share a little taste of la vie quotidienne (the daily life) with my friends, family and anyone else who just happens to stop by.

À bientôt!