Saturday, March 27, 2010

Weekend Breakfast

I still had a loaf of brioche in the freezer from when I made a batch back in late January, and decided today was the day to thaw it out and make some French toast.

In order to fancy it up just a bit more I added vanilla extract and lemon zest into the custard and topped the finished dish with fresh raspberries and blueberries. This was a delicious, bright-tasting, and surprisingly quick breakfast.

Brioche French Toast

One small loaf brioche, cut into 1/2 to 1 inch slices
2 eggs
1 c. milk
Zest of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
Butter for pan
Real maple syrup
Fresh berries

Mix together eggs, milk, zest, and vanilla in a shallow dish. Dip in slices of brioche for approximately 30 seconds per side. Allow excess egg mixture to drip back into the dish. Fry in melted butter until each side is golden brown, approximately 3 minutes per side. Top with warm maple syrup and berries.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Rhubarb Crisp

A few of my favorite foods are starting to be in season right now. Berries are coming from closer than Chile (don't even get me started on food miles), asparagus is green and fresh and delicious, and the other day at the store, right when you walked in the door, there was a display of beautiful, red rhubarb.

I love rhubarb.

It's a tradition that the first time I see rhubarb at the store in the spring, I buy it and make a rhubarb crisp. It's a delicious tradition.

This year I made a few tweaks to my recipe, and it seems like they were the right tweaks to make. This is, perhaps, the best rhubarb crisp I've ever made. And, so, I feel it's my duty to pass the recipe on so that others can enjoy the yumminess.

Rhubarb Crisp
Adapted from several recipes

4 c. chopped rhubarb
up to 1/2 c. sugar
1 Tbsp. tapioca

1 c. brown sugar, packed
1/2 c. flour
3/4 c. rolled oats
1/2 c. (1 stick) butter, cut into small pieces
1 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt

Toss together the rhubarb, sugar (to taste depending on the tartness of your rhubarb) and tapioca and put into a buttered 8 x 8 baking dish. Cut together (using a pastry blender, food processor, or with your fingers) the remaining ingredients and spread on top of the rhubarb. Bake, uncovered for 35 minutes at 350 degrees F. 

To make it even more delicious, serve topped with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Monday Meal Planning 3.22.10

We did pretty well at making meals out of food we had on hand all last week as planned.  The only exception was Thursday night when we bought subs and beer and plopped down in front of the television to engage in some March-type madness. (GO STATE!)

I went grocery shopping today and all of the space I had managed to make in the pantry and refrigerator last week is now filled up again. My meal plan this week is designed to clean things out even more. My list is designed so that I would only have to buy a few produce items and some meat (we got a jonesing for pulled pork and lasagna). I've been doing good at keeping my grocery bill low, and this week managed to buy produce, a few canned goods, meat, and some mascara for less than $75.

As long as you don't count the special trip I made to the Middle Eastern bakery yesterday to buy fresh-baked pitas.

Mmmmm....fresh baked pitas. So good!

Anyway, onward to the meal plan!

Monday: Turkey Patty Pockets, Hummus and Veggies

A recipe I will be sharing this week, adapted from the most recent edition (April 2010) of Everyday Food (EDF). We actually ate this last night, because we were in the mood for something fresh-tasting and were dying to eat more of the fresh baked pita bread. We ended up very pleased with how this meal turned out. I can see this ending up in rotation fairly frequently.

Tuesday: Crispy Rice with Mushrooms and Carrots

Another EDF recipe that we are really looking forward to eating. Fried rice topped with a sunny-side-up egg, and surprisingly still fairly low in calories, plus vegetarian. This sounds like it's right up our alley.

Wednesday: Spicy Shredded Pork Tacos, Grilled Zucchini

The cover of EDF this month shows a pulled pork sandwich, which is what put us in the mood for the same. I bought my brother The Pioneer Woman's cookbook for his birthday last month and the shredded pork recipe was the first he tried, and then he called me to rave about it. I'm going to throw the ingredients together in my crockpot, and then eat half in the tacos and half later in the week slathered in BBQ sauce and topped with cole slaw on a fresh, grilled bun. Excuse me for a moment while I mop up the drool that just happened. Given the nice weather we've been having lately, I've been jealously smelling everyone in the neighborhood grilling their dinner and dreaming of BBQ, so I am quite eagerly anticipating this meal.

Thursday: Mushroom Caraway Soup, Roasted Broccoli, Bread

Even though it has been, as I mentioned above, absolutely beautiful outside lately, I still crave soup about once a week. This mushroom soup caught my eye while meal planning so we'll be giving it a try. The broccoli is mostly for Gabbie's sake, since it's her favorite food lately (so weird, but I'll take it).

Friday: Pulled Pork Sandwiches topped with cole slaw, Sweet Potato Fries


Saturday: Lasagna, Salad, Garlic Bread

Funny story here: when I was planning out our meals for the week, I read the list to Aaron, like usual, for his approval. When I came to this, I said, "The Pioneer Woman's Lasagna," and he whined, "Why can't you make your lasagna? I love your lasagna!"

My lasagna is the Pioneer Woman's lasagna. Apparently I've tried so many recipes I have the poor guy confused. I think he'll be pleasantly surprised come Saturday.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Monday Meal Planning 3.15.10

I was looking in my refrigerator yesterday, trying to decide what to eat for lunch, and I realized that we have way too much food in our house to justify shopping for anything other than a few staples. So I challenged myself to cook for an entire week using just what we have in our refrigerator, freezer, and pantry. Even without shopping, we're going to be eating extremely well this week.

We also had a few things come up last week that pre-empted some of the planned meals so there are a few repeats this week from last week's plan.

Monday: Lentil Barley Burgers with Firey Fruit Salsa, Roasted Broccoli

Tuesday: Ravioli Toss, Bread

Wednesday: Pad Thai with Shrimp, Spring Rolls

Thursday: Brinner - Strawberry Shortcake French Toast

Friday: Pizza, Salad

Saturday: Creamy Pasta with Peas and Bacon

Sunday: Pork Chops with Pineapple Salsa, Israeli Couscous Pilaf

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Some delicious things I've made that I forgot to write about

Sometimes, like now, when I'm writing dozens of pages a day at work, I just don't really feel like putting together a long, cohesive post. And, even though I haven't blogged here much lately, that doesn't mean I haven't been cooking. I have! Promise!

Here are some things I made that were pretty darn good:

Tomato sauce with onion and butter

This was amazingly simple and I'm keeping a can of whole tomatoes in my pantry at all times from now on so that I can make it whenever I want. It doesn't have many ingredients, but it's fine just the way it is.

The Pioneer Woman's Pizza Crust

We made a couple of delicious pizzas using this crust (each batch makes enough for two pizzas). I couldn't get it to slide nicely onto my pizza stone the first time (see pizza that ended up as a calzone) so now I assemble it on parchment paper and cook it on the stone on the paper. If you want a crispy bottom crust, slide the paper out from underneath for the last few minutes of baking. So easy and good!

My favorite of the pizzas we made used the leftover tomato sauce from the recipe above (it was hard to save some, but I managed to work up the willpower to not eat it all), mozzarella and cheddar, roasted red peppers, artichoke hearts and chicken apple sausage. SO GOOD! (And now I'm ready for lunch at 9 in the morning.)

Artisan Bread in Five Minutes A Day - Master Recipe

I finally mixed up my first batch of dough yesterday and I have to say that the result was amazing! Another really simple recipe that has an amazing result - a nice crusty white loaf with a beautiful airy interior. Aaron sang the praises all evening and had to stop himself from eating the entire (fairly decent sized) loaf in one sitting. I told him it would be fine, since I still have the dough for three more loaves in the refrigerator, and it takes no time at all to whip up another one.

Here's how simple it really was - I started mixing up the dough at about 7:00 am yesterday and was finished mixing (using my stand mixer) about five minutes later. I used cold water so that it would take longer for it to rise, because I wanted to leave it out for the initial rise and come back to throw it in the refrigerator on my lunch break. I made it home at about 11:45 am, and it had risen beautifully. I took out a one-pound portion of the dough (can I mention here how much I love my kitchen scale? LOVE!) at 5:00 and we had fresh bread by dinner at 6:30. There really wasn't much work to get it to the table - seriously about 5 minutes of hands on time. This really is just great!

Monday, March 8, 2010

Monday Meal Planning 3.8.10

Sorry it's all dusty up in here. I seem to have forgotten I had this blog for a couple of weeks. I'm going to blame the weather that is turning nicer and the sun that is staying up later, both of which have distracted me by making me do things in the evenings like head out for a walk with Gabbie in the evening, or daydream about all the fun things we can do when the warm weather is here to stay.

I've been mostly daydreaming about grilling, made difficult by the fact that we don't actually have a grill yet. Never one to be dissuaded from accomplishing my daydreams, I have started researching grills and asked for one for Mother's Day (waiting that extra month for Father's Day is out of the question).

Then, late last week, I managed to get three cooking magazines back to back, and I'm inspired for cooking once again. My issues of Everyday Food and Food Network Magazine showed up in the mail a day apart, and then I had to go out and buy the March issue of Cooking Light after reading about it online in several places. So, those magazines inspired my cooking for the week, and I'll be sure to post the meals if they turn out.

You might also notice that we have a little bit of meat showing up on the menu this week again. We're still not cooking meat at home regularly, but after visiting my favorite butcher in my hometown this weekend, we have a few things that we bought that are begging to be eaten.

And now, to the plan:

Monday: Stirfry with broccoli, peas, carrot, green onion, and egg; brown rice

We are craving fresh veggies - it must be the spring thing - so I figured, why not throw them all into a big pot together, cook them just until crisp tender, coat them with a little teriyaki sauce, and shovel them into my mouth as quickly as possible. I'm really, really craving the vegetables, if you couldn't tell. I've been making my rice lately with vegetable broth or vegetable base added to water. It adds some nice flavor, and we all love it.

Tuesday: Orecchiette with Bacon/Tomato Sauce; bread

I can't wait to try this, it sounds fantastic. I also am finally mixing up a batch of dough from Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day tonight, and I'll bake our first loaf for dinner tomorrow.

Wednesday: Smoked Pork Chops, steamed broccoli, baked sweet potatoes

Sometimes there is nothing more delcious than a simple meal, and this is one of my favorite simple meals. Sometimes I add in a rice pilaf, but I didn't think we needed the rice this week. I will admit here that I don't know if it's fair to post this meal here. I have never (although I will also admit I haven't looked hard outside of the grocery stores and butchers in my area) seen smoked pork chops anywhere than at my favorite butcher in my hometown. But they're delicious, so if you see them, I strongly recommend trying them. Also, Gabbie loves them, so I am trying to cook meals she'll eat more of more regularly so that I don't have to end up making her something different.

Thursday: Lentil Barley Burgers with Firey Fruit Salsa, steamed carrots and zucchini

It totally surprised me that Aaron practically drooled when I told him about this recipe. I've finally converted over my meat eater! I am also a big fan of fruit salsas, so I was practically drooling too. Can't wait to eat this!

Friday: Ravioli Toss and Garlic Bread

Another veggie-loaded dish. I think that by the end of this week my vegetable craving will be satisfied. Or maybe not. This is the time of year I typically start daydreaming about our CSA vegetables and all the things I will cook with them. Spring is in the air and I can't wait for spring vegetables to get in my belly!

I don't have any weekend dinners planned at this point, but I do have a couple of weekend breakfasts planned, including a strawberry shortcake french toast and a remake of the best mushroom omelet I've ever cooked. I'm also thinking about corning my own beef starting this week for St. Patrick's day next week. Either that or we'll have our favorite Guiness Steak Pie. I just looked in my archives and saw that I've never shared that last recipe. That will need to be addressed, because it's amazing.


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