Monday, January 31, 2011

Last week, I did actually see the bottom of my laundry basket. For a hot minute, that is. My grandfather moved to assisted living recently, and I went and house sat for my mother so that she could go down and see him. I'm in a place where it's hard to travel to see him--not as much money as I'd like, a whole lot of needy little people asking for stuff, and a general sense that a visit from me would be more trouble than good. But, I hate feeling helpless with the situation. So, it was good to get to be a part of taking care of him. House-sitting. Now, that I *can* do. So, we house sat, my mom went down, saw him, finished cleaning out some stuff that needed it, and I feel like I helped. Win win.

This weekend was gorgeous, spring like weather. Today is proving rainy and cool, reminding us that it is still January. I can't wait for spring! But, as always, it's the change and anticipation of the new seasons that gets me. I just love that new feeling.

Friday--chicken marbela pasta (recipe coming tomorrow)
Saturday--out for lunch (thanks, Mom!), salads with chicken nuggets and french fries--supper
Sunday--leftovers (lunch), steak tips with mushrooms over egg noodles, butter beans, salad
Monday--cuban picadillo, rice, salad
Tuesday--catfish, hush puppies, slaw
Wednesday--lentil soup
Thursday--pork chops, butter beans, sweet potatoes

As always, I'm linked to menu plan Monday at Check it out for lots of inspiration.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Chana Masala

Chana masala is one of the first Indian foods I tried, and I still love it just as much as that first taste (out of a can, so not even that great of a version). According to some of my Indian friends, it's the equivalent of macaroni and cheese. Homey, comforting, but maybe not something that adults eat all the time. And, it's true. When I'm in our local Indian fast food place, I always see the little kids eating chana. No matter, the stuff is GOOD. And I am not too proud to eat little kid food (who am I kidding? I make mac and cheese for me as often as for my boys). Anyway. All that to say, this is good stuff, and if you've never had Indian food, it's a good starting place.

Chana Masala
courtesy of Smitten Kitchen

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
1 fresh jalapeno, minced
1 tablespoon ground coriander
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon amchoor powder (I was out, but it is very good if you have it)
2 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garam masala
4 cups tomatoes, chopped small or 1 28-ounce can of whole tomatoes with their juices, chopped small
1/3 cup water
4 cups cooked chickpeas
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 T lemon juice

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add onion, garlic, ginger and pepper and sauté over medium heat until browned, about 5 minutes. Turn heat down to medium-low and add the coriander, cumin, cayenne, turmeric, amchoor (if using it), and paprika. Cook onion mixture with spiced for a minute or two, then add the tomatoes and any accumulated juices, scraping up any bits that have stuck to the pan. Add the water and chickpeas. Simmer uncovered for 10 minutes, then stir in salt, lemon juice, and garam masala. (The garam can get bitter if added at the beginning)

I served this with basmati rice, sliced cucumbers, and a tamarind/apple butter chutney (literally half and half apple butter and tamarind paste--easy, but really good).

Today, I'm linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. I get new ideas each week over there. It's fun to see what other people are cooking.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Meal Plan Monday

Last week, my husband took off Monday for the holiday, and my sister-in-law (plus her mother-in-law) visited us on Sunday afternoon through the day on Monday. It was a lot of fun seeing her, and she thinks my three boys are the best nephews ever, so they love seeing her. But, that little change to our routine threw us off all week. It didn't help that the week before had been Snowpocalypse, and I got awfully used to having another set of hands at home.

Today, I am determined to see the bottom of both my laundry hamper (meaning it's all done) and the baskets (meaning it's all put away!).

But, luckily for me, I had a menu plan. It sounds hokey, but I really love my menu plan, and it takes a lot of the thinking out of the late afternoons, which is a good thing. Somehow, my children can entertain themselves at any time of day except two (and they are a big two!). When I am on the phone (what's up with that??!!??) and, again, when I am peering into my pantry wondering what's for supper. I'm all about removing anything that makes my life harder, so a menu plan is a beautiful thing to remove that stress.

Friday--bean tostadas
Saturday--lunch--out for $2.50 Vietnamese sandwiches at this fun place ; supper--fish tacos
Sunday--lunch--asparagus omelets, sausage, homefries, toast; supper--chicken pot pie
Monday--Italian wedding soup
Tuesday--free Moe's to celebrate a grand opening (woohoo! I'm excited about this one)
Wednesday--Thai red curry with pork, snow peas, and scallions, rice
Thursday--lemon chicken pasta (from Confessions of a Foodie Bride whom I discovered last week through Menu Plan Monday at I don't have artichokes, so I'll leave those out, and I'm not sure what to do about the cream. I might replace it with an alternate milk, and I might leave it out. I'll just see when the time comes.

And that's this week in a nutshell. If you need inspiration for your menus, check out orgjunkie's Menu Plan Monday as always. And, even if you make the same things every week, a glimpse onto the plates of 400 different bloggers is always fun.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Meal Plan

Better late than never, right?

Friday--spaghetti (boring, but our last day of being stuck inside due to snow)
Saturday--marinated grilled quail, baked potatoes, salad
Sunday--chicken parmesan, pasta, salad, bread
Monday--hamburgers, spinach dip, chips
Tuesday--fend for yourself--I have a cooking class. This usually is leftovers.
Wednesday--chana masala, tamarind apple chutney, basmati rice
Thursday--spanish rice

As always, I'm linked to menu plan Monday at orgjunkie. And, as always, my menu plan is the first step in keeping the place running. I couldn't do without it.

Recent date night

My kitchen has open shelving in the kitchen/dining room. This can be a disaster (everyone can see every.single.thing!), but it's also a blessing. Nothing can hide very easily, that's for sure. When we unpacked, we unearthed our old espresso machine. It'd been packed up for, well, way too long.

So, I talked Mike into busting out some rusty espresso making skills, and we've been enjoying coffee here and there. This Saturday, we wanted to stay up and enjoy our evening, but were exhausted. Espresso was just the ticket for our special drink (and it totally worked--I think we stayed up until 9:30! too funny)

We housesat for my mom, and part of the fun of being over there is enjoying her china. I love, love, love some pretty dishes, and it's nice to be able to set a table with something different.

We had chicken breast cutlets marinated in Texas Pete hot sauce, then quickly sauteed, served over wilted spinach and roasted sweet potatoes. I love the flavor combination of hot, sweet, and slightly bitter. So good.

And, because we're cool like that, we took the opportunity to gorge ourselves on terrible cable shows that we never watch. We had great fun gasping at Hoarders and cracking up at a few others.

Thanks for letting us raid your pantry, Mom!

Clam spaghetti

Recently, I found myself with these tiny grape tomatoes, just a bit past their prime.

What to do? What to do?

I threw them in a pan, let them get hot and their skins split.

Then, I added 2 cans of clams, their juice, and a little white wine. Let that all simmer and reduce until the liquid was almost gone.

And I added the concoction to a pot of regular spaghetti sauce (I had made plain for my boys). Mixed the clam concoction and the spaghetti sauce, let it all simmer for a while, and easy as pie, it was done.

And easy, easy take on red clam spaghetti.

Sunday, January 16, 2011


Georgia was totally unprepared for a week of snow and ice. So, we've been hunkered down at home, enjoying the time off from normal life, having a great time playing. And getting dressed and undressed from snow clothing. And washing said snow clothing.

Drinking hot chocolate. And snacks. And lunches. And breakfasts. And suppers. Washing said dishes. And wondering where, oh, where was my at least once a week break from all those dishes.

So, maybe a little cabin fever set in. Just a little. We got out on Saturday for the first time since the previous Sunday. And never had civilization looked so beautiful. There's a reason we live in town. The snowpocalypse confirmed that I'm not meant to spend my days on 40 acres in the country, all by my lonesome. Romantic, sure, but definitely not for me. I'll leave that for Pioneer Woman, thankyouverymuch.

And, I'm glad that next week is back to normal, God willing and the creek don't rise.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Chicken and rice

This recipe sounded so simple. So boring, honestly. I knew my kids would like it, because they love beans and rice. And, it was easy, so that was good for a fast supper. But, that's all I expected. I took no pictures, cause I didn't think it would be blog-worthy, honestly. And, yet. When it was made, it was excellent! Really, really tasty. Definitely a repeater. And, with the big bonuses that it's insanely easy, and my kids love it. What could be better?

Chicken and Rice
adapted from Rick Bayless's Mexican Everyday

2 cups cooked chicken or turkey (I used turkey)
2 1/2 T ground ancho chile powder, divided
1 onion, diced
1 cup rice
4 garlic cloves
1 1/2 cupes chicken broth
1 3/4 cups cooked black beans
1/4 cup chopped scallions
salsa for serving

Heat the chicken in a deep skillet in about 1 T oil. Sprinkle with salt, then add 1 T of the ancho chile powder. Remove from the pan. Add the onion and rice to the pot. Stir for several minutes, until the rice turns almost white. Add the garlic, remaining 1.5 T ancho chile powder, and cook 1 minute. Add the broth, and about 1 t salt (to taste--less if your broth is salty). Stir well. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat, cover, and cook 10 minutes. Uncover the pot, add the chicken/turkey and beans and cook for 12 minutes longer.
Uncover, sprinkle on the green onions. Recover the pot and let stand off the head for 5 to 10 minutes to finish cooking in the trapped steam (this is an important step, and it really makes for nice rice).
Fluff the rice, and serve with salsa.

Today, I'm linked to Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Jen is one of my favorite bloggers, and I love all the great ideas that come out of Tasty Tuesday. Check it out!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Menu Plan Monday

Another Monday, another meal plan. This time of year always feels like such a fresh start, doesn't it?

My husband and I sat down yesterday and developed some goals for the year. Things we would like to see happen, things we'd like to start, and one crazy, impossible, not sure how it will happen financial goal. I can't wait to see how the year turns out.
One thing I am excited about is starting to use is a new cleaning schedule. I'll let you know in a few weeks if it works out well for me. When we moved, we went from a 10 year old house that wasn't particularly well built, but it was well, sorta *new*, to a 1950s very cool, oh so convenient, but, well, sorta *old* house. This means a little less daily cleaning (not too many drawers in the kitchen means less drawers to clean! And 1 bathroom is always quicker to clean than 3), but it also means that I need to stay more on top of long term, deep cleaning. So, all that to say, some changes.
This week, I'm also doing a pantry challenge to make up for some of the excesses of Christmas. Oops. Thankfully, we were less than $50 over budget. If you had known us in our 20s, you, too, would be rejoicing right now!
So, without further ado...
Friday--hot sauce marinated chicken, spinach, roasted sweet potatoes
Saturday--black eyed peas, rice, turnip greens, fried cornbread
Monday--taquitos, rice, beans, guacamole, salsa
Tuesday--french dips, roasted potatoes
Wednesday--chicken and pasta soup of some sort
Thursday--hamburger steaks, mashed potatoes, cooked carrots
As always, I'm linked to menu plan Monday at Orgjunkie Check it out!