Monday, January 30, 2012

Another week in meals

It seems that nothing we ate last week was deserving of a blog post. My weekend most certainly was, though, so watch for that soon.

In the meantime, here's what we're eating this week:
Monday - Because of an unexpected trip to the dentist, tonight's meal got moved to tomorrow. So, we settled for very simple tomato soup, grilled cheese, and blood orange slices tonight.
Tuesday - my dad's chili with rice and tortillas and probably some kind of fruit
Wednesday - Chicken enchiladas, guacamole, oranges (we bought a big bag)
Thursday - Spaghetti carbonara, broccoli (roasted, if CJ has his way), probably more oranges
Friday - Card night at our house - Italian beef, sweet potato fries, fruit salad, dessert...I'm thinking lemon pudding right now. Wish it were Friday already. :)

Happy eating this week! Come back to see pictures of the awesome food I had this past weekend.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

The week in meals

Here's what we're eating this week...or at least what I have planned.

Sunday - lunch - whole wheat apple oat muffins, breakfast scramble
dinner - ham and beans, cornbread
Monday - dinner at Youth Horizons
Tuesday - Tostadas (making homemade refried beans from Sunday's leftovers), white queso
Wednesday - Baked tortellini with bacon, broccoli
Thursday - Spiced chipotle honey chicken with sweet potatoes, salad
Friday - Mama's out of town, so the boys will eat chicken fries and mac-n-cheese...or leftovers

What are you eating?

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Homemade Coffee Creamer

I have just recently became a coffee drinker. Or at least a coffee-flavored creamer drinker...ha. I like my coffee with plenty of milk/sugar. I especially like the new Natural Bliss creamer, but it's kind of spend-y. So, when I saw a recipe for homemade coffee creamer on Pinterest, I thought I would give it a try.

The verdict: It's easy and so good. And much more affordable.

Homemade Coffee Creamer

1 (14 oz) can sweetened condensed milk
14 oz. milk (it doesn't work to just put milk into the sweetened condensed milk can, by the way) You basically need nearly 2 c. of milk
2 tsp. vanilla

Combine the ingredients (I use a quart-size canning jar) in a jar with a tight-fitting lid. Stir. Then, shake, shake, shake. Store in the refrigerator. Mark the top with the milk's expiration date. So far, ours has not lasted nearly that long. That's it. Add to your coffee and enjoy!

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

My own creation

Updated to add: This was really good leftover, maybe better than the first night. Just sayin'.

I am a recipe person. And, I like the follow the recipe precisely, especially the first time I make something. I am not much of a creative cook. In the past few months, though, I've started to branch out a little more and have become more confident in my ability to put things together that taste good without someone else's instructions. Usually, this just looks like a random addition or substitution. Or occasionally I'll combine a couple different ideas. But, tonight, I went all the way. This soup recipe is all mine. I'm sure it looks like other soups of the sort, but I promise I didn't get it from a cookbook, magazine, blog, Pinterest, etc...

It was good. Phil and CJ both gushed over it anyway. And I figure I better record it here in case we want it again in the future.

Chipotle Chicken Posole
(please forgive me, I did a lot of guessing, not a lot of measuring)
Boneless, skinless chicken thighs (I probably had 1.5 lbs or so)
1/2 medium onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
2 c. chicken broth
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes
1 chipotle pepper in adobo, diced finely (I didn't take out the seeds, and my soup had some heat)
Chili powder
2 corn tortillas, cut into pieces
1 can (15 oz) hominy, drained/rinsed
...I sure hope I'm not forgetting anything

Put the chicken thighs in the bottom of your crockpot. Sprinkle with chili powder, cumin and coriander (or whatever spices you prefer). Top with onions and carrots. Pour in chicken broth, diced tomatoes. Add the chipotle in adobo. And the corn tortilla pieces (these will dissolve and thicken the broth). Cook on high 4-5 hours until chicken shreds easily. Remove chicken and shred. Return to crockpot and add hominy. Taste and season with salt if needed. Let heat through (about 30 minutes should be plenty).

Serve garnished with avocado, cilantro, sour cream, baked tortilla strips (slice 4 corn tortillas into thin strips, toss with 2 tsp. oil, bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes, tossing occasionally.)

Serve with Jalapeño Cheddar Scones. I'll post that next. They were scrumptious...and from a recipe.

Monday, January 16, 2012

This week in meals

I just realized my last post was #100. How about that?

For dinner this week:
Monday - Beef & Tomato Stew over brown rice, salad, clementines (yes, this was on last week's menu)
Tuesday - Chipotle Chicken Soup, jalapeño cheddar scones (I'm making up the soup recipe...counting on the scones to save the day if my creation is a flop).
Wednesday - Peirogies with ham & peppers/onions
Thursday - leftovers or breakfast for dinner

What are you eating this week?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

What's for Dinner - Pizza & a salad

Tonight's dinner was courtesy of my most recent issue of Cook's Country magazine. I'm not sure I've ever made something bad out of one of my CC and tonight was no exception. My husband is, in fact, insisting that I share the recipes with you here.

I made Grandma Pizza and Antipasto Salad. Grandma Pizza is apparently quite popular in Long Island, NY but not so well know in other places. I had certainly never heard of it. It's not anything complicated, though, just cheese and tomatoes. But, it was very good. See below for recipe.

With it, we had Antipasto Salad which was packed full of flavorful ingredients (and a few substitutions to accommodate what I had on hand).

Grandma Pizza
Note: the method they had for forming the dough worked great, and I will use it again in the future with other pizzas).

3 TB olive oil
3/4 c. water - I used warm water
1 1/2 c. bread flour (8 1/4 oz - I have a kitchen scale, so I weighed out the 1 1/2 cups that I was over an ounce short, so I highly recommend a kitchen scale)
2 1/4 tsp. instant or rapid-rise yeast (1 packet)
1 tsp. sugar
3/4 tsp. salt

1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes
1 TB olive oil
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. dried oregano
1/4 tsp. salt
8 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (2 cups)
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese
2 TB chopped fresh basil

For the dough:
Coat rimmed baking sheet with 2 TB oil. Combine water and remaining 1 TB oil in a liquid measuring cup. Using stand mixer fitted with dough hook, mix flour, yeast, sugar, and salt on low speed until combined (or just whisk it...that's what I did). With mixer on low speed, slowly add water mixture and mix until dough comes together, about 1 minute. Increase speed to medium low and mix until dough is smooth and comes away from sides of bowl, about 10 minutes.

Transfer dough to greased baking sheet and turn to coat (oops...forgot to turn it). Stretch dough to 10 by 6-inch rectangle (I needed some flour on my hands to do this). Cover with plastic wrap and let rise in warm place until doubled in size, 1 to 1 1/2 hours. Stretch dough (again with floured hands) to corners of pan (let rest if you can't get it and try again in a few minutes), cover loosely and let rise in warm place until slightly puffed, about 45 minutes. Meanwhile, adjust oven rack to lowest position and heat oven to 500 degrees.

For the topping:
Drain tomatoes in a colander. Combine drained tomatoes, oil, garlic, oregano, and salt in bowl. Combine mozzarella and Parmesan in second bowl. Sprinkle cheese mixture over dough, leaving a 1/2 inch border around edges. Top with tomato mixture and bake until well browned and bubbling, about 15 minutes. Slide pizza onto wire rack, sprinkle with basil, and let cool for 5 minutes. Serve.

I might let mine cook a bit longer next time, even though the edges of the crust were getting pretty brown. The middle was not as crisp as I was hoping. But, it tasted great.

On to the salad...

Antipasto Salad
So, this is a little more complicated salad recipe than I would typically advocate. But, it really is good (unless you don't like vinegar). The flavors are bold. Also, I'm going to share how we made it. The original recipe called for artichoke hearts (9oz frozen...thawed and patted dry) instead of the cucumbers I used and black olives (not our favorite). Otherwise, I stayed true to the recipe.

2/3 c. red wine vinegar
1/4 c. water
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 tsp. dried oregano
salt and pepper
1 red onion, halved and sliced 1/4 in. thick (I used about 3/4 of an onion)
1 med. cucumber, diced
1/3 c. sliced banana peppers
2 TB olive oil
2 Romaine hearts, chopped - Actually, I just used a lettuce mix that we like and had on hand, that is half spinach - the Romaine would be better and hold up to the other ingredients
10 oz cherry tomatoes, halved
3 (1/4 inch thick) slices provolone cheese (6 oz), cut into 1-inch long matchsticks
3 (1/4 inch thick) slices salami (6 oz), cut into 1-inch long matchsticks
Basil leaves, torn

Bring vinegar, water, garlic, oregano and 1 tsp salt to boil in small saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring occasionally, until onion is nearly tender, 5-7 minutes. (Add artichoke hearts at this point, cook 3 more minutes). Off heat, add banana peppers and cucumbers. Transfer mixture to a bowl and refrigerate until cool, about 20 minutes.

Drain marinated vegetables through strainer and reserve 1/4 c. vinegar mixture. Toss marinated vegetables with 1 TB olive oil in bowl. Whisk remaining 1 TB oil into reserved vinegar mixture until thoroughly incorporated. Toss romaine, tomatoes, salami, provolone with vinaigrette in large bowl. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Transfer salad mixture to platter and top with marinated vegetables, (olives) and basil.

Dig in.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Meal Plan for this Week

I made a few adjustments to this week's meal plan after being completely derailed by a migraine on Monday.

So, here's what the week looks like now:
Monday - Chipotle (thanks to my understanding husband plus my failure to make a trip to the grocery store)
Tuesday - Soft Tacos (Yes, mexican food is always welcome at our house)
Wednesday - Grandma's Pizza (tomato/cheese) and Antipasto Salad (both from the new Cook's Country)
Thursday - Beef & Tomato Stew over brown rice (from the new Everyday Food), applesauce
Friday - Card night - which means dinner with friends

Also worth noting...I went through all my pins on Pinterest tonight and moved everything that I've actually made to a new board (Saw it, Pinned it, Made it). I wanted to clean up my Yum board, so that it just includes new ideas and not things I've already tried. I was pleased to find that I have made 46 new recipes from ideas found on Pinterest. That's pretty good, right? Not just a waste of time? :)

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Brown Butter Whole Wheat Soda Bread

We had this tasty bread with cheesy vegetable soup tonight at supper. Try it soon. It is easy, flavorful, delicious. And it doesn't require yeast, for those of you who are yeast-averse. Because it is a soda bread instead, its texture is denser and chewier (the oats and whole wheat flour also contribute to this).

I found the recipe on How Sweet it Is. Everything I've tried from her site as been delicious, and this was certainly no exception.

Brown Butter Whole Wheat Soda Bread

1/4 c. butter (1/2 stick)
2 c. flour
1 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1/2 c. old fashioned oats
1 TB brown sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. baking soda
3 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. dried basil
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. dried thyme
1 tsp. black pepper (use freshly ground if you can)
1 3/4 c. buttermilk
1 egg white, beaten

Have you ever browned butter before? It's really easy. And, it's the first step. Just take a small saucepan and put the butter in it and place it over medium heat. Whisk constantly as it melts (it will foam and the foam will subside). As soon as you see brown specks in the butter, take it off the heat. (And I even go ahead and take it out of the saucepan so that it doesn't get too brown). Set that aside.

Now, mix together the flours, oats, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda and seasonings. Add the butter and buttermilk. Stir together with a fork. Then, turn onto a lightly floured surface and knead until the dough comes together (a few minutes).

Divide dough in half, form into rounds, and place 6 inches (mine was more like 4) apart on an ungreased baking sheet. Brush the top with the beaten egg white. Then, cut an X in the top of each about 1/2 inch deep.

Bake at 375 degrees for 45 minutes. Let cool 30 minutes before eating.

It smells incredible while it's baking!

Menu Planning for the New Year

I'm changing the way I do menu planning for the new year...or at least, for now.

This past summer, I tried using theme nights to plan our meals but it didn't work out so well. I got hung up on the alliterations (like Try Something New Tuesdays). I couldn't come up with one that matched each day of the week. Silly, I know.

So, I'm abandoning the idea of alliterated themes and just focusing on the things we like to eat in categories. Phil & CJ helped with this too. Here's what we've got so far. (I'm leaving Fridays/the weekends open for leftovers or for changing things around when needed).

Mondays - Mexican
Tuesdays - Pasta/Pizza
Wednesdays - New recipe (or perhaps some weeks, an old standby)
Thursdays - Soup

The other thing I decided this time around was that while I will use those themes for planning, I will not be tied to making Mexican on Mondays necessarily, if for some reason we need to switch.
As I planned on the first two weeks of the new year, I really enjoyed using the themes to guide me. Here's what we're having (or had)

Monday, Jan. 2 - cheese and crackers (one last hurrah during Christmas break and CJ's request)
Tuesday, Jan. 3 - Chicken Caesar Sandwiches, roasted sweet potatoes & onions, homemade brioche
Wednesday, Jan. 4 - Lasagna, Salad with Lemon Garlic dressing, Bread, Pineapple (switched Tuesday & Wednesday this first week in order to have company over)
Thursday, Jan. 5 - Cheesy Vegetable Soup, Brown butter whole wheat soda bread, sliced apples

Monday, Jan. 9 - Mexican stuffed shells
Tuesday, Jan. 10 - Grandmother's pizza (from my new Cook's Country magazine)
Wednesday, Jan. 11 - Slow cooker beef & tomato stew (supposed to be served over brown rice, but I'm thinking of serving it over barley...I've never even bought barley before)
Thursday, Jan. 12 - Chicken Minestrone, bread

I'm also experimenting with planning out two weeks in advance (but only shopping for one) to see if that saves me some time.

One other confession: this menu was planned after not cooking on a regular basis for a couple weeks, so it is filled with new recipes I want to try (not just on Wednesdays). If life gets busy, some of these will not happen.

Monday, January 2, 2012

What's Cooking 2012

If you read my book blog, you know that I always have a stack of books waiting to be read. Tonight, I started thinking about what is in my "to be cooked" pile.

Pinterest is a great source of recipe inspiration for me. Feel free to click over and see what has recently caught my eye. I also read a lot of cooking magazines, got a stack of new cookbooks for Christmas and check them out regularly from the library as well. I am not really short on recipes I want to make. But, then there are those things that would be more challenging to me in the kitchen. That's the type of recipes I'm talking about today.

So, in the spirit of the new year, I am starting to work on a list of new things I want to cook.

For starters, I would really like to try to make croissants this year. And homemade crackers. What else? Cook more fish. Master pie crust. Make more bread, sourdough, brioche, etc. Make healthier choices...that still taste good. How about making my own yogurt?

What's on your "to be cooked" list? I'm always looking for ideas.