Monday, February 28, 2011
After last week, I started thinking about our budget, and I decided to increase the amount I allow for groceries. We're not going to turn into spendthrifts overnight, but that extra $20 a week is a needed increase right now, and I think it'll make grocery shopping a little easier. I also have a dear friend (hi Tammy!) that has 3 grown sons of her own. She said a few kind words this week that encouraged me and reminded me that these little boys really do grow and need me to remember that in my budget. So, I'm feeling better about grocery shopping already (and if you've ever been to the store with 3 little helpers, you know that anything that makes you feel better about the process is a good thing indeed!).
Last week, I realized I had been nursing a cold for over a month! Funny how it sneaks up on you, you know? So, I started hitting it hard with some medication plus a homeopathic remedy, and by Thursday, I was feeling dramatically better. I took it easy the whole week, and I'm really amazed by how much more energy I have this week. It snuck up on me, and I didn't realize how under-the-weather I had been feeling. I'm excited to be back to normal (or what passes for normal in the peculiar household).
All that said, let's get to the menu, shall we?
Friday--Thai spring rolls with peanut butter dipping sauce
Saturday--hummus, carrot sticks, and pita (lunch), chicken sandwiches, Texas caviar (supper)
Sunday--Italian wedding soup (lunch), taco salads (supper)
Monday--pumpkin, sausage, and basil pasta, salad
Tuesday--chicken and sausage etouffee over rice(from last week), coleslaw
Wednesday--golden bowl from a beloved vegetarian restaurant in my hometown--a bowl of delicious 80's-ish health foodie tasting goodness (but in a good way)
Thursday--chicken fried rice
As always, I'm linked to Menu Plan Monday over at Orgjunkie. Lots of great ideas over there. Check it out.
Monday, February 21, 2011
Grocery prices where I live have been climbing recently. It's time for me to consider increasing my grocery budget, but I haven't done it yet. So, for now, lots and lots of low-meat and bean based meals. Luckily, my kids count beans as their favorite foods (I know! I consider this very lucky as well), so we have them frequently without complaint. And, as always, meal planning lets me look ahead at the week, make sure I have everything I need, then make adjustments ahead of time to keep within my budget. Cause no one wants to eat steak on the first day of the pay period and ramen on the last!
Friday--homemade pepperoni pizza
Saturday--frito chili pie (lunch), chicken tettrazini, salad (supper)
Sunday--omelets, biscuits, sausage, potato pancakes (lunch), gumbo (supper)
Monday--red chilaquiles with chicken and avocado, refried beans
Tuesday--burritos with pinto beans, sweet potatoes, and collards
Wednesday--chicken and sausage etouffee, rice, salad
Thursday--salmon croquettes, rice, butter beans
As always, I'm linked to Meal Plan Monday at orgjunkie. Lots of great ideas over there!
Thursday, February 17, 2011
So, she recently showed off a picture of the classic dish from The Silver Palate cookbook, chicken marbella. Yum. It had been years since I'd made it, but that picture planted a seed in my head. I knew I had to have it soon.
It started with a package of bone-in chicken breasts. I did not thaw them in time, so I poached the whole four pounds. I ended up with way too much chicken, and next time, I'll cut this down a little. But, hey, you gotta work with what you have.
I served this over fettucini, and it was a winner. I'll definitely make it again. All thanks to that sweet kosher friend. Thanks for the idea, Michelle!
Chicken Marbella pasta
adapted from The Silver Palate Cookbook
2-4 bone in chicken breasts (I used 4; next time will use 2)
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, finely minced
1/2 cup pitted prunes
1/4 cup pitted Spanish green olives
1/4 cup capers with a bit of juice
2 bay leaves
2 T brown sugar
2 T oregano
1/2 cup white wine
3 T red wine or balsamic vinegar
Poach chicken breasts in enough water to cover. When chicken is done (about 30 minutes), remove from broth, shred meat, and reserve chicken broth.
Saute onion and garlic in 1 T olive oil. Deglaze pan with white wine. Allow mixture to simmer until liquid is almost all evaporated. Add about 2 cups chicken broth to skillet, along with prunes, olives, capers, bay leaves, oregano, and brown sugar. Allow mixture to simmer for 30 minutes uncovered.
Add chicken to pan, along with vinegar. Add more chicken broth if needed to get mixture to saucy consistency, around 1/2-1 cup. Add cooked fettucini to pan, toss with sauce, and serve immediately.
I'm linked to Tasty Tuesday at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Lots of good ideas there!
Wednesday, February 16, 2011
These days, that works to our advantage, because our warm fuzzy memories are of cozy dinners at home, just the two of us, and that's what we want more than anything.
So, this year, as always, we added another cozy memory to the bank.
Contessa episode on the Food Network. So good.
A funny story about my amaretto. I love, love, love some amaretto. And I wanted it to pour over my strawberries this year (which were awesome, by the way). So, I stopped by the liquor store to buy a mini bottle (which is what fit into the budget this week). We live close to a university, so the kid in front of me presented his ID and the cashier scrutinized it for. ever. Then, when it was my turn, he didn't even ask. I walked away all defeated. Do I really look that old? Am I losing my coolness? And, then, I realized. Dude, I was buying a mini bottle. No underage kid would be interested in that. I had given away my age completely. And I reassured myself that I still had it.
Tuesday, February 15, 2011
Love one another.
1 John 3:14
I started the day by packing a special lunch for Mike. Isn't this sparkling cider so cute? I found it at Kroger, and I knew that I had to have it for his lunch box.
We spent the morning making Valentine's.
Our table all decorated for a Valentine's supper.
Kool Aid. Don't be a hater).
With a sweet picture of two very, very young love birds. This was early in our dating life. I never would have predicted 3 little boys, a house about 3 miles from the apartment we were standing in, and a whole lot of great memories in the meantime.
everyone's favorite part....brownies for dessert!
I hope your family's celebration of Valentine's Day was fantastic as well.
Friday, February 4, 2011
I also appreciate that the authors of this book cook with a slant towards southern food. When my mom made gravy, it was brown. Not white like those mountain folks. Not red like those odd birds in the northeast. Brown. And it usually came alongside fried chicken. So, those are the flavors that speak to my soul. I was thinking just the other day that it's no wonder our ancestors fried so often. It's so darn easy and fast and good. And, then I thought to myself, okay, that probably totally gives away my roots.
But I digress.
This is a quick, easy meal that everyone liked. Couldn't be better.
It starts with a couple of convenience foods. Bagged coleslaw mix and hoisin sauce. I bought this at the Asian market (hence the writing that I can't read), but you can get it anywhere.
Mu Shu Chicken
adapted from Cheap Fast Good by Beverly Mills
1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast
8 oz mushrooms, coarsely chopped
16 oz bag coleslaw mix
1 T oil
1/4 cup hoisin sauce
2 t dark sesame oil
12 small flour tortillas
extra hoisin sauce for the tortillas
Chop chicken breasts into bite size pieces. Heat the oil in an extra deep skillet over medium heat. Add the chicklen to the skillet and cook, until browned and almost cooked through, about 6-8 minutes. Add the mushrooms to the skillet and cook, stirring occasionally, until they just begin to brown. Meanwhile, mix the hoisin sauce, sesame oil, and 1/4 cup water in a small bowl. Add the hoisin mixture and coleslaw mix to the skillet. Stir well, cover, and cook for about 3 minutes. Heat the tortillas in the microwave or a cast iron skillet. Spread a little extra hoisin sauce in the center of each tortilla. Using a slotted spoon, place about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture in the center of each tortilla. Serve immediately.
Wednesday, February 2, 2011
It starts with a heavy pot with a well fitting lid. I use this beloved pot from Le Creuset. It's a bouillabaise pot, and it's perfect for everything you can think of. I use it to stir fry, to deep fry, to braise in the oven. I use it for stews and soups, for boiling peanuts. You name it. I've cooked it in this pot. It's my favorite kitchen equipment, and I'm glad that Mike splurged on it one year for Christmas.
But, I digress. First you get a pot.
Serve with your favorite sauce. Winter barbecue. It'll put a little summer on your table, even with nastiness outside.
Oven Roasted Pork Butt
The Lee Bros Southern Cookbook
One large (at least 3-3.5 pound) pork butt, skin on, bone in
1 teaspoon oil
2 cups vinegar barbecue sauce
1 T cane syrup or sorhum (optional, but good)
1/2 cup chicken broth (optional again)
1/2 cup apple cider (optional)
Remove butt from fridge 2 hours prior to cooking to come to room temperature. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Sear each side of the butt until golden brown, about 8-10 minutes per side, in a hot pan with the oil.
Pour the barbecue sauce over the meat, and heat until the sauce simmers. Transfer to the oven, cover, and bake, basting every 15 minutes, until a meat thermometer registers 175 degrees, about 3.5 hours.
Optional part: transfer 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid to a saucepan. Add the molasses, broth, and cider, and bring to a simmer. Simmer vigorously about 6 minutes, until reduced by half. Baste the shoulder the the syrup, return to the oven, and turn the heat up to 425. Cook uncovered for 15 minutes more.
Lazy girl option: uncover the pork, turn the heat up to 425, and cook for 15 more minutes.
Remove the pork from the oven, let it rest for 10 minutes. Carve or pull the pork, and serve with your favorite sauce.
2 cups white vinegar
2 T chili powder (use whatever you like; I like ancho for this)
1 t pepper
1 T salt
1 t sugar
In a jar with a tight fitting lid, put all the ingredients. Shake until well combined. This sauce will keep forever in the fridge.
This post is linked to Tasty Tuesday over at Balancing Beauty and Bedlam. Lots of great ideas there.
Tuesday, February 1, 2011
As it frequently does, this recipe started with beautiful greens. I'm normally not a fan of kale, but this was really pretty at the market, and it was better than usual. Although, really? How can anything go wrong when quickly cooked in olive oil, garlic, and red pepper flakes? That would make a shoe taste good.
This combination totally works. You must try it soon. So good.
Today, I'm linked to Balancing Beauty and Bedlam's Tasty Tuesday. Check it out.