Sunday, January 6, 2013

Three Gifts I Love

I was so thrilled to get a new, enamel-covered, cast iron Dutch oven for Christmas!  It wasn't one of those super fancy $400 dollar models.  It was just the cheap knock-off from Sam's Club.  Despite being 90% less than the other model, it works just fine and I have made three meals with it so far. And it's red.  I love the color red!

Notice the beautiful cutting board behind the Dutch oven. My daughter made that for me in wood shop at school.  Isn't it lovely?  I'm never going to use it because I never want to scratch it.  I'm going to display it in my kitchen forever and admire my daughter's handiwork.

The first dish I made in my new Dutch oven was Ropa Vieja.  Here is the link to the recipe.  Delicious.  Everyone ate it, had seconds, and then we served it for leftovers the next night.  

My sister, who puts me to shame as a cook, gave me this fabulous cookbook: The Smitten Kitchen Cookbook by Deb Perlman.

My sister swears by Deb's blog, Smitten Kitchen, and says she never has created a bad recipe from the blog.  

I spent hours reading this book before even trying a recipe. My husband and daughter poured over it as well.  I love the writing style and the humor as the author explains her creations.  

I tried my first recipe from this book tonight.  I gave my kids the choice of three and they chose 'Harvest Roast Chicken with Grapes, Olives, and Rosemary.'

I don't think they realized the olives were Kalamata olives and not black olives (the kind that they like to put on their fingers at Thanksgiving).  I don't like Kalamata olives myself.  I'd never had any other kind of olive but black until, as a student, I traveled to Greece and had a Greek olive.  That olive bit me back!  I'd never had such a flavor before and none since for that matter. 

Thus, I was skeptical about this recipe but forged ahead anyway.

Wowie! Was this a delicious recipe!  The kids ate it and loved it.  We weren't to fond of the cooked olives, but roasting the chicken with the olives gave the chicken and the sauce a rich flavor.  It was fantastic.

Did you notice my Dutch oven in the background?  I thought so.  It is on top of the trivet that my son made in Cub Scouts for Mother's Day.  

The chicken needed to roast longer than the cookbook suggested in order to reach a safe temperature.  However, the whole process only took an hour, and now that I have made it once, I will be able to make it again in less time.  Which means, for all you busy cooks out there, you can make it on a weeknight.

Tuesday night I am trying 'Pancetta, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Pot Pies.'  I'll let you know how they turn out!

All my lovely gifts I give 5 out of 5 stars.

The roast chicken recipe I am giving 4.5 stars.  We didn't like the olives so that was worth 4 stars, but they flavored the chicken so well.  For a family who doesn't like Kalamata olives we sure loved this recipe so that bumps it up a half a star!

Linking with



1x1.trans Super Saturday Show & Tell #1...


  1. There's nothing nicer than a gift specially made for you.
    Lovely woodcrafting from your kids. Good to see the girls getting a look in with the sharp tools. I just showed the chopping board to Pete (ex-woodwork teacher) and he says to pass on his sincere compliments to your daughter - lovely accurate laminations he says. Should be dated and mounted on the wall as a family heirloom.
    Cast iron is our cook ware of choice - both regular and enamelled. Great stuff.

  2. Such beautiful gifts! We still have not gotten a good Dutch oven, which is just silly, considering how our lives are pretty much centered around food. However we did get a huge roasting thing (I don't know what it's called) that takes a whole turkey or pot roast or whatever and you can let it cook for hours without using the stove or oven. We usually cook enough for 10 meals or so and freeze them for easy prep.
    We do love ropa vieja, and we even have a couple of Cuban restaurants here where it's a menu mainstay. Great winter dish!

  3. I have to exact same dutch oven in cobalt blue and I LOVE it!! My favorite quick dish is mac and cheese and I've had great success with pot roasts. I'm excited to try that chicken recipe. I love every kind of olive! Stopping by from Salt Tree's open Tues.
    Your newest follower,
    Rikka J.

  4. Thank you for your comment Lisa and Happy new Year to both yourself and your Mum.
    What a posh name for a saucepan..Dutch Oven!The best sort to use though and it will last for years.My son took most of my Le Creuset pans with him to University and they are older than he is but still working and looking just as good as the day they were bought.Enjoy your cooking!!

  5. The dish looks like it turned out beautifully! I love that your kids participate in the selection of recipes. I was not an adventurous eater until I became an adult. I hope we'll get to hear about the Pancetta, White Bean, and Swiss Chard Pot Pies after you've all had the opportunity to critique them!

  6. Thanks for pointing me to this food blog, she's got some great recipes on there. I see you're on the Skill Builder BOM too, looking forward to following your progress :)

  7. I got the same book for Christmas! I absolutely love her blog and she has never led me astrylay. Of course, the first recipe I tried was the chocolate chip brioche because I love sweets and bread. It was FANTASTIC. A lot of cork without a stand mixer, but worth it in the end. I also made the fig and sea salt challah when she posted it as a book preview. It made the best french toast! And was delicious on its own as well. I need to start trying the main course recipes :)

    That cutting board is lovely! And I hope you get lots of use out of your shiny new Dutch oven :)

  8. Thanks so much for linking up to Super Saturday Show & Tell today!! I loved your post, so sweet. I hope you come back again next week :) xoxo~ Ruthie

  9. I have a similar red cast enamel Dutch oven by Le Creuset. It's almost 8 years old and I love it


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