Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Monday (OK, OK, Wednesday) Meal Planning 7.29.09

My body got back from Chicago on Sunday afternoon, but I think my brain only just made it back this morning. I spent Sunday and Monday cuddling with Gabbie, and yesterday I was trying to get things back in some semblance of order. Today, though, I’m finally feeling present, although it could just be the extra cup of coffee I’m drinking that’s making all the difference.

Anywho, since I was off gallivanting in Chicago and having fun for four days, I feel like I really owe Aaron a bundle for staying home and keeping things together so well. He and Gabbie had a great time, but even I will agree that having four days of one-on-one one-year-old can be a bit much. In addition to giving him some free time this coming weekend by taking Gabbie up to my parent’s house for a night and day I decided to make some of his favorite meals (including one he didn’t know was a favorite, but ended up loving very, very much). So, this week’s meal plan is full of Aaron’s definition of good eating.

Monday: Slow-Cooker Barbeque Beans and Sausage, Sliced Tomatoes

This recipe is from my new favorite cooking magazine, and is the first recipe I tried from the issue I bought. Gabbie LOVES baked beans more than any other food, so I figured this would be a good meal to put together for when I was gone. I got up at five the morning I left, threw this all in the crockpot, and they had a delicious hot meal when I got home.

I did make a couple of edits to the recipe – I didn’t use the cloves because I didn’t have any, I used Montreal Steak seasoning where it called for barbeque seasoning blend (I feel they were probably looking for something more like Penzey’s BBQ 3000), and I used less sausage than it called for but left them whole. It cooked on low for 10 hours, and came out perfectly. Aaron’s only complaint was that it needed more sausage, so I’ll definitely used the whole portion next time.

Tuesday: Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, Steamed Green Beans

As usual, this is our “house” spaghetti recipe, which basically means a jar of sauce, along with a half package of Italian bulk sausage, a package of sliced mushrooms, and one sliced zucchini, all sautéed before being added to the sauce. Though we usually eat a salad with this meal, I have a ton of green beans to use up from last week’s CSA take (plus more to pick up today) so green beans it is! Here’s hoping Gabbie will get over her anything-green-except-peas aversion.

Wednesday: Chicken Korma, Basmati Rice (made with stock), Naan

Pretty standard Aaron’s favorite fare, with added sautéed zucchini to up the vegetable content (and use more of our CSA abundance).

Thursday: Turkey Pineapple Chili, Corn Bread Muffins - (oh, yeah. I totally did)

This is, hands down, Aaron’s favorite meal, which is fortunate for me because it’s so darn quick. Seriously, 15 minutes and dinner is on the table.

Friday: Pizza

Because after this week I’m going to need a break.

Over the next week or so, I’m going to feature some recipes from a few celebrity chefs I saw (or would have seen if they weren’t 90 minutes late) at Blogher. I was a total fangirl to one, and I’ll tell more when I post the recipes. I even have some pictures!

Monday, July 20, 2009

My Apologies

I’m sorry to say there will be no Monday Meal Planning today. Between BlogHer happening this week and a bunch of house stuff going on (not to mention wanting to squeeze in as much cuddle time with Gabbie as possible before I up and leave for 4 days) this week is going to be light on the cooking. I do plan on making a couple of big crockpot meals so that Aaron doesn’t have to cook much while I’m gone, and if they turn out I’ll let you know.

Last night I made a big batch of the meat from one of my favorite recipes, Smoky Beef Tacos, and we’re eating that a variety of ways this week, including tacos and tostadas. The house smelled wonderful all day because I make this in the crockpot, and the smell had all three of us starving by the time dinner rolled around. Even Gabbie, my non-meat-eater, ate a ton of the meat. I actually had to cut her off because I wasn’t sure how the beef was going to treat her stomach since she’d never really eaten much beef before last night.

I also need to figure out what to do with a whole bunch of salad greens, because my crisper is overflowing with them right now thanks to the CSA. I think I’m going to try this salad, which is topped with bacon, a poached egg, and a warm vinaigrette, using mixed baby greens instead of the frisee. As a salad in which bacon factors heavily it sounds good to me! Other recipes that are probably going to happen this week include a kale pie from my favorite vegetarian cookbook (we keep getting kale and need a new way to make it interesting), and slow-cooker barbecue beans and sausage (from my new favorite magazine).

So, I guess this is kind of a meal plan. I usually post my plan from the previous week so I can ensure the food I recommend is tasty, so if these turn out they’ll factor into my plan next week. And, it really does sound like a lot of cooking for a week in which I wasn’t planning to cook, doesn’t it? Oh, well. It’s not a good week without good eats!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Food Magazine Love

Over the years, between those my mom subscribed to when I lived at home and those I’ve subscribed to since, I’ve fallen in love with many, many food magazines. It started out with Taste of Home (which, I have to admit, I mostly perused to try to find that tiny needle hidden in the pages (or was it a carrot?)), then moved on to Cooks Country, America’s Test Kitchen, Martha Stewart Living, Better Homes and Gardens, Cooking Light, Gourmet, Rachael Ray Everyday, and my constant favorite over the past few years: Everyday Food from Martha Stewart. I’ve subscribed to each until one of two things happen – 1) I realize I never use any of the recipes, or 2) They start to get a little stale/all the recipes start to look the same. I’m having that problem right now, and so I’ve been on the lookout for a new magazine to which I should subscribe.

After a brief trip to the store at lunch today, I think I may have found THE ONE (or at least, the new one): Food Network Magazine. (I totally just subscribed after less than an hour with the current issue – plus it entered me into a sweepstakes for a $100,000 kitchen makeover, and now that we have the house, I’m all about winning some kind of remodeling sweepstakes). This magazine is seriously fun, and I actually like the non-recipe related articles as much as, if not more than, the recipes. And that’s saying something, since I rarely read the actual articles in most of the food magazines I subscribe to.

Just in case this one issue is a fluke, and the rest of the issues are not any good, I need you to tell me: what is your current favorite food magazine? Which is your all-time favorite? Have you gotten the Food Network Magazine and loved it just as much as I do?

(Also, I’m definitely trying some of the recipes soon. Listen to some of these recipe titles: Mangchego-Stuffed Pork Burgers, Fresh Mozzarella BLT with Pesto, Basil Gnocchi, Onion-Ringed Fried Chicken, and Watermelon Sours served from a watermelon keg (that is so going to happen at my house-warming party!).

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The Curse of the Food Photo

As part of improving this website I decided that I would love to put up photos of my recipes, because we all know that people really eat with their eyes, and I think that it would make this site a lot better. So I started photographing new recipes whenever I made them (also, whenever I was not so starving that I couldn’t pause to take a picture before shoveling the food into my food-hole). I’ve been working with my tri-pod and different lighting and have even taken some pretty awesome pictures of food that I’ve made. However, it would seem that I am cursed – whenever I take a photo of a food I’m making from a new recipe, I’m then completely disappointed by the recipe and subsequently have no use for the photo because I refuse to post recipes I don’t like.

It started a while back with a recipe for nacho scalloped potatoes – basically a cheesy potato casserole with a Mexican twist. The recipe had definite potential and sounded awesome on the page, but I could only choke the finished product down when I doused my portion with extra cheese, sour cream, tomatoes and green onions. Even then, I still didn’t like it. So, I had a beautiful picture of a delicious-looking dish that fell flat on its face.

Following that, there were disastrous attempts at both eggplant and chicken parmesan, I somehow completely messed up a recipe for ratatouille and had to stop after one bite (and I haven’t been able to eat it since – it was that bad), various other dishes that are not worth the brain space apparently because I know it’s happened more than this but I can’t recall what recipes I tried, and then, most disappointingly, with a recipe for an Asian vegetable noodle soup that used up my bok choi and pea pods from last week’s CSA delivery. I got a gorgeous picture of that one; the soup was beautiful, with carrots, red peppers, pea pods, mushrooms, bok choi, and a hearty-looking broth. We sat down to eat and discovered that the soup had no flavor. Aaron doctored his up with soy sauce, sriracha and salt, but I just couldn’t bring myself to eat more than the first bowl.

It seems that I sometimes go in streaks of bad recipes or disastrous attempts at cooking (see last night where I burned potatoes and broccoli and Aaron way overcooked some pork chops), so I hope this isn’t the start of one of those streaks. Especially since I have company coming this weekend and am planning on cooking a couple of meals for them. I’ll keep trying to take pictures, or maybe I’ll just take pictures of recipes that I know I like. However it goes, I hope I can escape this curse sooner than later. I hate spending a ton of time on food to be so disappointed!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Monday Meal Planning

I’m currently in the thick of weaning (down to only one nursing session per day) and oh, man, is it doing a number on my hormones. I’m crabby, impatient, and liable to cry at the drop of a hat. In short, I’m a blast to be around. Here’s hoping this attitude either dissipates by BlogHer, or (more likely) I’m so excited that I forget to be moody. My mood could also be PMS, so it’s no wonder that, no matter what the cause, I’m in the mood for comfort foods this week.

Monday: Ravioli Soup, Salad, Garlic Bread

This recipe solves two problems: it’s a major comfort food and it’s quick so it doesn’t test my patience. I’d love to try Cassie’s Recipe for Cheesy Garlic Bread if I have the time and patience. It sounds so absolutely delicious!

Tuesday: Queso Dip and Chips

I love recipes where you brown meat, throw it in the crock pot with a bunch of other ingredients, give it a stir, and forget about it until dinner time. They’re the best! And this is one of them! So good.

Wednesday: Cayenne Rubbed Chicken with Avocado Salsa and Lemony Orzo

Avocados can make anything better. I swear.

Thursday: Macaroni and Cheese with Roasted Cherry (or Grape) Tomatoes, Hot Dogs, Steamed Peas with butter

Macaroni and Cheese is my ultimate comfort food. Throw in a hot dog (in a bun topped with lots of ketchup and diced onion) and I’m in heaven. Gabbie totally agrees (except she gets a soy dog – no nitrates), and when we had this meal recently, she ate more than I’ve ever seen her eat before. It really is that wonderful!

Friday: Ham and Mozzarella Panini with Cherry Tomato Salad

I go ahead and pile the salad on top of the sandwich and eat it that way.

And, now that I’ve made myself completely starving hungry, I’m off to lunch. Early. Expect another post later about the curse of the food photo (mostly because I’m procrastinating, and what better way to procrastinate than writing a few blog posts, right?).

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Cherry Crumb Pie

Tomorrow at work as part of our “Office Olympics” we’re having a bake-off. I’m kind of known as the baker of our department, so I’ve heard that people are calling me the person to beat, and so I really need to bring out my best dish. So, for inspiration, I decided to look back through my archives to find something to bake. Imagine my surprise when I found that my “Baking” tag only had one entry. One? Me? Really? I bake all the time!

This totally needs to be remedied.

So, to start, I’ll share my recipe for cherry crumb pie. Aaron gets this pie once a year around the Fourth of July, because that’s about the peak of cherry season in Michigan. Let me just tell you, Michigan cherries are absolutely delicious and if you happen to be in Traverse City around this time, you’re in cherry heaven. A few years ago we were there for the 4th, and brought back a bunch of cherries with us. I made this pie and Aaron fell in love. It’s at its best this time of year, so that’s why it’s a once-per-year treat. Any other time, it’s just not as good, so we only eat it when it’s at its best. My favorite way to serve this is with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. I hope you love it as much as we do.
Cherry Crumb Pie

One recipe single layer 9-inch pie crust, or one purchased prepared crust

1 Quart of sweet cherries, pitted and sliced in half (I do this all by hand, and Aaron appreciates it even more because of the amount of work involved in this undertaking)
2 Tbsp. sugar
2 Tbsp. tapioca

¾ c. flour
½ c. brown sugar
3 Tbsp. granulated sugar
¼ tsp. salt
6 Tbsp. butter (unsalted – if you use salted, omit the salt in the recipe)

Place crust into pie plate. In a large bowl, mix together cherries, sugar, and tapioca. Pour into prepared crust.
Mix together the dry ingredients for the topping in a medium-sized bowl. Cut in the butter using a pastry blender, two knives, or your fingers, and work until the mixture is full of lumps about the size of small peas. Sprinkle this over the cherry mixture in the pie crust, spreading to edges and making sure coverage is fairly even. Bake at 375 degrees (F) for about 45 minutes, or until crust and topping are golden brown, and some of the pie filling starts to bubble through.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Grandma S' Strawberry Shortcake

Strawberry season may be winding down, but I still have a bunch of the delicious, ripe, red berries to use up before they go bad. I’ll definitely be making some of my favorite strawberry freezer jam (although it never quite makes it into the freezer, and is equally delicious over vanilla ice cream as it is on toast or in PB&Js. However, we’ve been enjoying our bounty mostly in the form of strawberry shortcakes, using my grandma’s awesome recipe for biscuit-like cakes. We crumble the cakes into the bowl, top with macerated strawberries (with or without the liqueur) and a dollop of brown sugar-sweetened whipped cream. It really doesn’t get much better than this, I promise.

Grandma S’ Strawberry Shortcake

2 c. all-purpose flour
2 Tbsp. sugar
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. salt (optional – I like it without, Aaron likes it with; maybe a ½ tsp. would be a good compromise)
1/3 c. vegetable shortening (I like butter-flavored Crisco(TM))
1 c. milk

Sift together flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Cut in shortening until the mixture is lumpy (about pea-sized lumps). Add milk and stir until just mixed – do not over-mix. Drop by approximately quarter cup-sized portions onto a creased cookie sheet. Dot with butter. Bake at 450 degrees (F) for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.

Crumble a cake into a serving dish; top with macerated strawberries and whipped cream.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Monday Meal Planning

The meal plan this week is still pretty CSA/leafy greens heavy, but the good news is that non-leafy vegetables are starting to show up at the CSA. They’re still green though. This last week we got broccoli (we still have to use it) and this coming week is the beginning of pea season. I knew that peas would be showing up there soon, mostly because I spent the entire 4th of July afternoon de-shelling peas at my parents’ house. It was like old times, watching a movie and working on shucking peas. Gabbie loves peas anyway, and was thrilled to get to eat fresh raw ones. It was no surprise to me that she didn’t eat much dinner that night since she probably ate nearly her weight in peas that afternoon.

The other thing happening with this week’s plan is that Aaron has been complaining about how I never make the same dish twice and he has trouble remembering if he liked a dish or not in the past because it has been so long since he had it. So, I’m going through my archives and noting which meals he liked to bring some of these dishes back into rotation.

Monday: Sautéed Collard Greens with Tomatoes and macaroni and cheese
Why fix something if it’s not broken, right? Since we got more collards this week, we did this again. I did change up the recipe a little bit though, and the changes made it even better. I started by chopping up and frying 4 slices of bacon and used the bacon fat instead of the olive oil in the original recipe. Then I added a dash of red pepper flakes to give it a little bit of spice. It turned out so good!

This is one of Aaron’s favorites. I mentioned it over the weekend and he practically begged for me to make it again. Since it takes all of about 15 minutes to throw this one together, I happily acquiesced.

Wednesday: Indian-Spiced Kale and Chickpeas, basmati rice, and naan
This is another delicious way to use up kale, and I got to use the garam masala I bought a while back as well! I used much less kale (by about half) than the recipe called for, and added the chickpeas a little earlier so they’d have more time to soften. The finished dish was a little too mild for our tastes so we spiced it up with some sriracha. Delicious! I also made the rice with vegetable broth instead of water and that turned out to be a great way to add a little more flavor to the meal.

This recipe is just the thing for an easy nearly-end-of-the-week dinner. Plus it’s super comforting and delicious. You really can’t beat that.

This is yet another meal that Aaron loves and that he has begging for since I mentioned it last week. So yes, two Indian-inspired meals in one week, but when you love curry the way I do, two is nearly perfect. We add sliced zucchini and double the tomatoes called for in this recipe, which makes it more hearty and more delicious.


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