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31 December 2009

All Hail, Kale (Soup)

Made "Potato and Kale Soup" from The Ultimate Soup Cookbook (Reader's Digest, 2007) with garlic twists for supper last night and it was ... okay. I think we would have enjoyed it a lot more if I had not made "Portuguese Kale Soup" from Myra Goodman's Food to Live By: The Earthbound Farm Organic Cookbook (Workman Publishing, 2006) last month. That was an excellent soup -- a soup beyond compare, a soup to overshadow all other soups. Compared to that soup, this soup was grey dishwater with some green bits.
Kale & Potato Soup Cookin'

Now, when I chose this recipe for "Potato and Kale" soup, I saw that it used little to no seasoning but I reckoned I would just tweak it a bit and everything would be all potato-y kale-y goodness. Where the original recipe called for water, I used low-sodium vegetable broth. Where it wanted 3 garlic cloves, I used six. Where it wanted a quarter teaspoon of black pepper, I chucked in liberal amounts of pepper, thyme, and salt. Knowing The Husband well, I also added in some sliced cooked chicken bratwurst at the end with the kale to give the soup a level of meatiness he would approve.
It was all for naught. The soup needed twice as much seasoning. Maybe some chili pepper flakes. Or shredded cheese. Oh, god, yes! Cheese! I will throw some in my lunch bowl and see how that improves things ...
Garlic Rolls

To go with the soup, I made little garlic biscuit thingamajigs using a Pillsbury crescent roll sheet and some Stonewall Kitchen Garlic Spread. I unrolled the sheet, slathered it with spread, rolled the sheet back up, cut it into one-inch slices, arranged the slices on a baking sheet, and baked them in a 375°F oven for about fifteen minutes (I think -- I was not exactly paying attention). They were very pretty and quite tasty, but could have benefited from a little cheese, too!
28 December 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Forty

I hope you all had a splendid Christmas full of all the important things like good friends and family (and good food to share with them). This period of time between Christmas and Twelfth Night is my favorite part of the season -- my warm fuzzy Christmastide feelings are still strong, but the stress of the season has passed. My life, for too short a time, is all about maintaining a snugly comfortable sort of domestic bliss.

(This largely means the housekeeping goes straight to hell while I loll around on the couch with The Hubster and the Four Kitties of the Apocalypse).

And what would Menu Plan Monday look like for such a time? It would look like this:

Leftover Monday

  • "Shepherd-ish Pie" and salad. Ingredients: leftover mashed potatoes, leftover corn, leftover gravy, lean ground turkey from freezer, onion, butter, egg, paprika, salt-free seasoning blend.

Tuesday (work)

  • Leftover shepherd's pie with salad and the last satsumas.

Wednesday

  • "Potato & Kale Soup" from The Ultimate Soup Cookbook (Reader's Digest, 2007) with garlic twists (smear crescent roll dough with Stonewall Kitchen's Roasted Garlic Spread, roll up, and bake as directed). Ingredients: onion, garlic, potato, kale, olive oil, pepper, water.

Thursday (New Year's Eve Supper)

Friday (New Year's Day)

Saturday

  • "Corny Tomato Dumpling Soup" from The Ultimate Soup Cookbook (Reader's Digest, 2007) with big bowls of salad.

Sunday

  • Roast turkey (from freezer) with roast farmer's market fingerling potatoes, and green beans.
Hmmm ... a preponderance of potatoes in this week's menu?
27 December 2009

Sometimes, I Do Like Shoppin'

Today, we left our house for the first time since Christmas Eve. What could motivate us to leave our snug nest, as full of cuddly kitties and Christmas loot as it is? The Coventry Regional Farmers' Market, of course!

I wasn't sure how busy the Market might be, so I drafted a list of what I needed and where I expected to find it ... needn't have bothered as the Market was nice and quiet. I presume a lot of people were either at home, still cabbaged out in post-Christmas recovery mode, or at the mall exchanging their loot. Silly buggers.

We bought:
  • 2 baskets of Purity Farm's fingerling potatoes
  • 1 sack of Purity Farm's baby kale
  • 1 stalk of Brussels sprouts
  • 1 bunch of watercress (for cucumber and cress sandwiches)
  • 2 packets of New Boston Beef's ground beef
  • 1 packet of New Boston Beef's sweet Italian sausage
  • 1 hunk of goat cheese with cranberries from the Ladies of Levita Road
  • 1 pack of teriyaki jerky from Wook's Beef Jerky (I am addicted to this stuff -- need a new pack every two weeks)
  • 1 bag of chocolate chip cookies from Morning Glory Homemade Goods (The Husband's impulse buy)
  • 1 jar of Norm's Best Marinated Mushrooms
I was hoping for some Jerusalem artichokes (sunchokes) to use in "Roasted Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts and Jerusalem Artichokes," but did not spot any. I guess I'll just have to roast the Brussels Sprouts my usual way, instead.

For Christmas, my mother gave me a copy of The Ultimate Soup Cookbook (Reader's Digest, 2007) -- a most excellent cookbook I have borrowed from the library manymany times. I am going to use some of my tasty Market purchases in "Potato and Kale Soup" and "Corny Tomato Dumpling Soup." Perhaps, I will even bring my mom some soup for New Year's!

(I shouldn't make fun of you post-Christmas shoppers -- I was certainly keen to stop and pick up some bargains at Stonewall Kitchen today, too).
26 December 2009

Christmas Dinner With Nobs On

Christmas Dinner, 2009

~ Marinated Beef Tenderloin ~
with
Port Wine Sauce

~ Do-Ahead Garlic Mashed Potatoes ~

~ Buttered Parsley Corn ~

~ Savory Slow Cooker Squash and Apple Dish ~

~ Garden Salad ~

~ Pickle Tray ~

~ Floury Rolls ~
with Garlic-Herb Butter

~*~

~ Panettone Bread Pudding ~
Served warm with
Fresh Whipped Cream

Christmas Dinner, 2009

Owe most of Christmas Dinner's success to the Betty Crocker Complete Thanksgiving Cookbook (Wiley, 2003) which provided me with most of the dishes listed above. This is an excellent book which I have borrowed from the library time and time again for its tasty recipes and menus. The marinated beef tenderloin was particularly awesome (and will be repeated), but part of that was no doubt due to the quality cut of prime beef I purchased at Whole Foods.

The mashed potatoes, gravy, and butternut squash were all made on Christmas Eve and just refrigerated until needed. I reheated them in the microwave while the meat rested and then just popped them in the still hot oven until everyone was ready to sit down and feast.

Everything was really good and there were far less leftovers than I had anticipated -- my Menu Plan Monday was largely dependent on repurposed beef getting us through the weekend, but that did not happen! After seconds for four people, we managed a few small sandwiches on leftover floury rolls and that was it. Yay for KFC, eh?
24 December 2009

Christmas Eve Supper, 2009

Christmas Eve Supper, 2009

~ Roasted Cornish Game Hens ~

~ Baked Potatoes ~
with lashings of Brummel & Brown

~ Tiny peas ~

~*~

Christmas Eve Supper, 2009

Roasting Cornish game hens is dead easy -- just rub them with a little olive oil, sprinkle liberally with salt-free lemon-pepper herb seasoning and roast in a 375°F oven for about 90 minutes. You can throw the potatoes in at the same time and forget about everything until the timer goes off (or you can baste the hens halfway through, if you're feeling fancy).
22 December 2009

"Make Room" Pasta

As in, pasta that helps make room in my kitchen for Christmas Dinner's ingredients! I made a huge pot of this, because now is not the week to be faffing about in the kitchen every night.

"Make Room" Pasta

Ingredients:
  • 2 shallots, diced
  • 4 cloves of garlic, sliced thin
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 8 oz ground New Boston Beef
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 2 red bell peppers (from floral arrangement), diced
  • 1 orange bell pepper, diced
  • 28 oz Muir Glen fire roasted crushed tomatoes
  • Generous amounts of basil, rosemary, thyme, and black pepper
  • Parmesan cheese
  • 1 box of Ronzoni Smart Taste elbow noodles

I don't think I need to post instructions for this, do I?

Too Many Satsumas!

Someone was not keeping up with his end of our satsuma-consumption agreement and a few wee fruits started to mummify themselves in the fruit bowl. When faced with mummifying citrus, I usually ream them and use the juices to baste roasting poultry or salmon, but I wasn't in the mood for anything savory when I set out to find a use for these poor satsumas. No, I wanted something sweet. Something The Husband might like. Something like .... cake.

"Moroccan" Orange Cake

"Moroccan Orange Cake" turned out pretty amazing and, because it uses oil instead of softened butter, was pretty instant for a not-from-mix cake. The most complicated part was zesting and juicing the satsumas to get the amounts called for -- of course, I had no idea how much zest an orange should yield so merely zested all the satsumas I planned to juice (four satsumas yield a half cup of fragrant juice).

This cake was delicious -- fragrant, moist, and with good crumb. While it would be easy to glaze this cake with a little orange juice and confectionery sugar, I feel the cake is fine without it. We ate the cake, still slightly warm, with vanilla ice cream and fresh whipped cream, but it would probably be fine all on its own with a glass of milk.

(One thing I really love about bundt cakes, is that it is so easy to portion them out! Based on the bumps in my pan, this cake makes either twelve generous or twenty-four sensible servings).
20 December 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Thirty-Nine

Lots of simple, easy dishes on this week's menu as all my energies are focused on Christmas. The only grocery shopping I plan on doing is for Christmas Dinner's ingredients, so we will be eating out of the cupboards and freezer for most meals.

(Christmas is almost here! Squee!)

Monday

  • Pasta with farmer's market ground beef, freezer tomato sauce, mushrooms, onion, garlic, and peppers.

Tuesday (work)

  • Frozen Kashi meal with salad and satsumas.

Wednesday

  • Kashi frozen pizza and salad followed by binge cleaning and stress snacking.

Thursday (Christmas Eve Supper)

  • A tasty and easy repeat from last year: tiny Cornish hens, roasted, with baked potatoes and peas. Ingredients: Cornish rock hens, butter, lemon, thyme, salt and pepper.

Friday (Christmas Dinner)

  • Beef tenderloin with port wine sauce, garlic-herb mashed potatoes, garlicky green beans and/or buttery parsley corn, tossed salad, fresh rolls, and pickle plate. Ingredients: many.

Saturday

  • Leftover beef tenderloin stir-fried with carrots, celery, and onion over parsley-rice with leftover salad. Ingredients: beef, carrots, celery, onion, home-made stir-fry sauce (water, cornstarch, broth, soy sauce).

Sunday

  • Stew from the leftover tenderloin (based on "Leftover Beer Roast Italian Stew") with leftover rolls. Ingredients: beef, onion, garlic, leftover vegetables, bell pepper, low-sodium broth, low-sodium diced tomatoes, oregano, basil, mushrooms.

Arr, It Be Fruitcake Season!

Finally, mere days before Christmas, I have baked my first fruitcake! Used King Arthur Flour’s recipe for "Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake"and it worked out really well considering I decided to bake fruitcake at eleven o'clock at night. Oh, the madness!

Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake

No doubt, sensible bakers will decry late-night baking as a bad idea and they might be right, but that has not stopped me yet. Late-night baking is a character builder and reinforces basic cookery techniques. Techniques like assembling all ingredients before beginning the baking process lest, at an inopportune moment, I discover I am short an ingredient which cannot be acquired in the middle of the night ...

KAF's recipe called for ½ cup brandy, cranberry juice, or water. To my horror, I was out of brandy! Neither water nor cranberry juice were acceptable options as, in my mind, fruitcake = cake with fruit and booze. Happily, a rummage through my liquor supply turned up the next best thing -- a bottle of Pineapple Jack Pineapple Coconut Rum leftover from last year's fruitcake adventure. Microwaving the dried fruits with rum made my kitchen smell marvellous!

When baking this cake:
  • I used a fifty-fifty blend of King Arthur Flour's organic all-purpose and white whole wheat flour for this cake -- I was worried using just whole white wheat would be too noticeable (I need not have worried as the other ingredients are so flavorful, the cake bits fade right into the background).
  • I also used orange extract instead of orange oil, as I did not have any.
  • It was impossible to add the undrained fruit, candied cherries, and nuts to my batter without killing my KitchenAid, so I dumped everything into my big meatloaf bowl and gave it a good stir (this happened with last year's fruitcake, as well).
  • In the end, I omitted the glaze (worried it would make the cake too sweet) and just drenched my warm, beautiful cake with rum before letting it sit overnight.
(The Husband suggested I pour the whole bottle of rum over my cake and set it on fire. I had never heard of torching fruitcake, but he seemed certain it is an English Tradition. It is possible he was confusing fruitcake with Christmas pudding).

In the morning, I cut off a generous chunk and had it for breakfast with a glass of milk. Yummy. So fruity and nutty with just the barest hint of rum. Definitely, a keeper.
18 December 2009

A Taste of Nostalgia: Fish Cakes

For Wednesday's supper, I made easy-peasy "Tuna-Potato Cakes" from Better Homes and Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith Books, 2008) with tiny peas and rice pilaf.

Comforting Tuna-Potato Cakes

These cakes took me straight back to my childhood -- my mother used to make salmon-potato cakes which I would eat drowned in ketchup with buttery parsley potatoes and peas. While I have my mother's recipe, I have never tried making them as removing the skin and bones from the canned salmon gives me a bad case of the ewwws.

Tuna, it turns out, works just fine. So, probably, would crab meat or minced clams. Mmm, clam cakes!

My experience with this recipe:
  • When I made these cakes, I did not have a twelve ounce can of tuna so I substituted two five ounce cans of solid white albacore low sodium tuna.
  • I also threw in some parsley flakes and used seasoned salt-free breadcrumbs.
  • Using a one-third cup measure to scoop out the cakes worked really well and I did, for once, end up with four servings (2 cakes each).
  • The trick to keeping them from falling apart when flipping was to not touch them at all as they cooked for four minutes per side. This way each side became beautifully brown and crispy and everything held together well (I learned this the hard way while making "instant" latkes last week).
I think, like the "Two-Step Crunchy Chicken Strips," these tuna-potato cakes are going to start making regular appearances at my supper table.
16 December 2009

Gud Brownie

I thought I would be a good wife and bake The Husband some brownies. Loving, but also lazy, I turned to my bulk bag of King Arthur Flour's Basic Brownie Mix. I made the fudgy version and, woo-boy, are they fudgy! So rich and chocolaty that, for once, it's easy to be satisfied with just one brownie.

We have eaten our brownies plain, with satsumas, and sundae-ized with vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. They were good all ways and are nearly gone, now. Happily, the bag should make two more batches -- although I have my doubts as there doesn't seem like seven more cups of mix in the bag. However, I shall just fluff the heck out of it (the directions do say to fluff the mix) and hope for the best!

Will I buy this mix again? Yes. While, at $12.95 for three batches, I'm not sure this mix is entirely economical, the quality and convenience can't be beat.
13 December 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Thirty-Eight

This week's menu contains some repeats from last week as I was poorly and didn't get around to making some meals. Nothing like being sick at holiday time, eh? I am so far behind schedule with housekeeping and baking that I think I should just draft a new schedule with many fewer things on it! (Actually, that seems like a great idea ...)

I've tried to keep this week's menu very simple and easy to cut down on my pre-holiday stress levels. Wednesday's chicken strips are so easy and tasty -- I strongly recommend them. (Friday's tuna-potato cakes are also dead easy, if a bit more messy).

Monday
  • Tortellini with roast vegetable sauce and salad. Ingredients: refrigerated tortellini, mushrooms, peppers, onions, garlic, cherry tomatoes, and jarred sauce.

Tuesday (work)

  • Leftovers from our library luncheon (if I have room left). This year's luncheon is catered by the culinary program at our local technical high school -- can't wait to see what the students have in store for us!

Wednesday

  • "Two-Step Crunchy Chicken Strips" from Better Homes & Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith, 2008) with corn and mashed potatoes. Ingredients: chicken strips, crushed cheese fishies, and light ranch dressing.

Thursday (work)

  • Frozen Kashi meal, salad, and satsumas.

Friday (work)

  • "Tuna-Potato Cakes" from Better Homes and Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith Books, 2008) with peas and salad. Ingredients: leftover mashed potatoes, tuna, celery, dried bread crumbs, seasoning.

Saturday/Sunday

  • Going down to see my parents on Saturday and (maybe) have some 'cue. On Sunday, we will sup upon a sumptuous repast of Kashi frozen pizza with (freezer) vegetable soup and salad.
12 December 2009

Experiential Baking: Turkey Pot Pie

We had a bowl of "good" turkey meat which I held back from soup-making in case we wanted more sandwiches. Well, after a week of them, we were sandwiched out and I needed to do something with the meat (the cats vocalized some definite ideas) and thought of pot pie ...

Turkey Pot Pie & Salad

Considering this pie was the first "scratch" pot pie I ever made, it came out really well! I even made the pie crust myself and I had never made a pie crust on my own, before. The last time I remember making one, I was nine or ten and "helping" my mother with her Thanksgiving pies. How did my crust come out? Really well considering the anxiety that surrounded its creation! I was sure it would fail -- be tough or dry or bland or ohmygodsoindescribablyawful and I was so wrong!

I made my crust using "King Arthur's Pie Crust" recipe. I used King Arthur 100% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour and butter because the recipe notes said "Whole wheat pastry flour produces a crust with a 'bite' and a hearty flavor" and that seemed like a good thing! Also, I didn't have any shortening on hand. (Someday, I'd like to try a lard crust -- a woman I went to college with swore by them and I would like to try one, just once).

My 1st Pie Crust

I made the filling for this pot pie by combining a bunch of recipes I found on the Internets to make best use of the ingredients I had on hand -- no extra shopping for this recipe! (Adding mashed potato might seem a little odd, but you don't taste it and it thickens the pie filling up quite nicely).
Beginner's Turkey Pot Pie

1 packet turkey gravy mix
1 teaspoon French thyme
1 teaspoon ground sage
¼ cup dried parsley
1½ half-and-half
1 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
3 cups (approx) cubed or shredded cooked turkey
2 cups (approx) leftover garlic mashed potatoes
1 cup frozen sweetcorn
1 cup frozen peas
Pepper, to taste

1 recipe "King Arthur's Pie Crust"

Preheat oven to 425°F. In a large pot, whisk gravy packet, thyme, sage, parsley, half-and-half, and water together. Add butter and stir as it melts until mixture comes to boil. Stir in turkey, potatoes, and vegetables. Return to boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Season with pepper to taste.

Prepare pastry by lining an ungreased 9-inch pie pan with one crust. Pour turkey mixture into the crust-lined pan. Top with remaining crust. Crimp edges and notch top to vent. Bake in 425° oven until golden brown, about 35 min. Will keep fine in warm oven until serving-time (I left mine about thirty minutes and all was well).
When I was a child, my parents would sometimes take me out of school to visit Old Sturbridge Village and one of my favorite parts, aside from visiting Freeman Farm and the sawmill, was lunch at the Bullard tavern. Yes, lunch at the tavern with its nummy chicken pot pie and Indian pudding was teh awesomes for a nascent foodie child me.

Oh, that pot pie! Delicious, flaky, buttery, tender, rich chicken pot pie! You are still the pot pie I dream of!

Experiential Baking: Scones

Back in my bad old undergrad days, I would occasionally go to Barnes & Noble with friends to drink tea and talk. Of course, the tea drinking and talking would invariably lead to ... scone eating. Never ate scones before B&N. Never ate them after. All my experience at B&N did was to teach me that scones, no matter how tasty them might appear or delicious they might smell, would always end up being bland, dry, and heavy as stone. Bad, scones, bad.

But. A "Cherry Almond Scone Mix" from King Arthur Flour haunted my baking cupboard ... it had been a gift and, knowing the good intentions it represented, I was not inclined to throw it out. For the past year, it lurked behind my big flour containers, occasionally shunted around the sugars or brought forward into the light only to be cast back with invective when its identity was known.

Experiential Baking: Scones

Alas, poor scone mix! What did you ever do to anyone? Indeed, it wasn't the mix's fault I had a history of bad scone experiences. Perhaps, I should give it a try? If the scones were too dreadful, I could compost them. If they were passable, I could take them to work. At no time did I consider they might come out well.

Yet they did. Sweetly-smelling of almonds, tart with cherries, slightly crumbly, and far more cake-like then I would ever have anticipated ... I am not sharing these scones with anyone!

I made my scones as directed by the box which was a little stressful as I don't usually do cold-butter baking and wasn't sure my coarse crumbs were coarse enough (next time, I'll use my food processor). Also, completely paranoid about my ability to not screw up the scones, I was very on-edge when patting the dough into a 9-inch circle and cutting them into wedges so I did not separate my wedges far enough apart and they tried to fuse back together when baking. I just gently re-cut them with a knife after they had cooled for a bit and that seemed to work okay.
11 December 2009

Gobble-Gobble In My Pot

We'd pretty much picked the turkey carcass clean by Thursday so I decided to go ahead and make some soup right away rather than chucking the carcass in the freezer and doing it Sunday.

Gobble Gobble in My Bowl

Each time I make turkey or chicken soup it comes out differently because I don't have a set recipe -- I always start the same way, but what goes in at the end varies as I tend to simply round up whatever open bags of frozen vegetables I can find and dump them in the pot with whatever slightly wrinkly potatoes or rice/barley/noodle bag ends I find in the pantry. Seasoning depends strongly on taste and mood -- sometimes, I make a spicy turkey soup but more often it is just very garlicky and redolent with thyme.
How I made this turkey soup:
  • Removed all bits of skin/fat from the turkey carcass and then crushed it down a bit to fit in my big dutch oven.
  • Surrounded the carcass with carrots, onion, shallots, bay, and peppercorns.
  • Topped the whole thing off with cold water and let it simmer for about three hours or so (I took a long nap at this point).
  • Eventually, drained pot contents through a cheesecloth lined colander into a big basin.
  • Picked vegetable bits out and set aside.
  • Separated edible turkey bits from inedible.
  • Skimmed the fat off the top of the broth and poured back in the pot.
  • Broke the veggies up a bit and put them back in the pot. Ditto the turkey, a bag-end of whole wheat egg noodles, some pearl barley, odds-and-ends of frozen corn and peas, fresh pressed garlic, thyme, salt, parsley, and the last of my sodium-free chicken bouillon granules.
  • Let everything cook for about an hour and then taste-tested and then adjusted seasonings as whim took me.

Kitchen Reorganization (Or, I Lose My Mind)

I like to cook. And I like kitchen gadgets and new ingredients. And people who like me to cook for them like to help me out by giving me gadgets and ingredients. This is all nice and symbiotic and ... messy. If I don't constantly stay on top of things, I feel overrun by my kitchen stuff. Even when everything looks tidy, I know that at any minute all hell could break loose. And it usually does.

I thought, when we bought the welsh dresser for the dining room, that I would free up a lot of kitchen cabinet space by moving all my not-everyday china and glassware out of the kitchen. The problem was, the space I freed up was not premium space to begin with, but actually an assortment tiny or oddly-shaped or unreachable-without-a-stool (I am hobbit-short) cabinets which I just ended up stuffing a bunch of junk in, anyway!

Also, my kitchen is the first "real" room anyone enters from outside and so is the catch-all area for mail, newspapers, jackets, library books, bird feeders, totes, and starveling cats ...

First, in order to make this kitchen reorganization project more bite-size (thereby increase my likelihood of following through with it), I am only going to focus on cabinet arrangements and am also going to divide my kitchen up into sections based on the way I use it rather than trying to focus on the whole room all at once. I have three areas to deal with:
  • Cooking area (refrigerator-stove-window)
  • Baking area (peninsula and tea-making area)
  • Cleaning/Storage area (sink-microwave area)
I will start with the cooking area, because it's the area I feel I fight with most ...


(My kitchen doesn't usually look as bad as in the photo, but I thought I should start with a stunningly bad "before" shot!)
10 December 2009

La-La-Leftovers (Pasta Style)

Decided to have a bad reaction to my meds and was a little off my rocker for most of this week. Happily, this was the week of turkey leftovers so we just ate a lot of sandwiches! Mmm, nothing like roast turkey with a little butter, whole berry cranberry sauce, and butterhead lettuce on a fresh Kaiser roll!

I do not handle my own illnesses with much patience and my feebleness began to irritate me something awful, so I eventually hauled myself into the kitchen and made us one "real" supper of pasta and vegetable odds-and-ends.

La-La-Leftovers (Pasta)

To a sauté pan spritzed with a little cooking spray, I added 2 cups quartered wrinkly cherry tomatoes, half a diced onion, half a diced red bell pepper, and a cup of leftover buttered parsley corn. I cooked the vegetables until the peppers were soft and the onion translucent. Then, I poured in a jar of tomato sauce (dumped a little leftover half-and-half into the "empty" jar and shook it around to get the last drops out) and let everything cook together on low while I made the pasta.
Making the dish, start to finish, couldn't have taken more than thirty minutes. However, we didn't end up eating it right away and it sat (all combined together) on the warming burner for about thirty minutes before we got around to it. The wait seemed to do the pasta no harm -- much of the sauce was absorbed, but not so much it made for a dry-tasting pasta and the flavors were all very mellow.
08 December 2009

Soon Fruitcake Cometh

Last month, King Arthur Flour was offering free shipping on orders over seventy-five dollars and, since I needed to get start assembling holiday baking ingredients anyway, I went to town.

KAF Order of Holiday Yumminess

For holiday fruitcake(s) baking:
  • Candied cherries
  • Mini diced ginger
  • Walnuts
  • Dried orange-flavored cranberries
  • "Our favorite fruit blend" (a mix of apricots, raisins, pineapple, dates, and cranberries)
For whenever:
  • Cranberry-sunflower granola bar mix (simply fahbulous when made with honey and shredded coconut)
  • Fabulous fudge brownie mix
  • Old-fashioned date bar mix
  • Potato pancake mix (we ate these last week and they were pretty good, but more hash brown-y than I had expected)
This year, besides Paula Deen’s "Tropical Fruitcake" (from Cooking with Paula Deen Nov/Dec 2008), I am also trying at least one of KAF’s fruitcake recipes -- most definitely the recipe "Orange-Cranberry-Nut Fruit Cake" (hence my purchase of orange-flavored cranberries) but possibly also "Taste of the Tropics Fruitcake" just to see if it’s as good as Paula Deen’s rum-soaked madness.
06 December 2009

Menu Plan Monday, Week Thirty-Seven

I am about a week behind the rest of the United States as this week's Menu Plan is all about using up leftover turkey. When we don't host a holiday, I try to throw a mini version of it the following week (an Un-Thanksgiving, if you will) -- this might be a little weird, I don't know, but it is what I have always done! (Also, at this time of the year, I am always grateful to have leftovers to work with).

Monday (work)
  • Turkey salad sandwich on a nice kaiser roll with salad and satsuma. Ingredients: leftover turkey, celery, onion, light mayonnaise, tarragon, pepper.

Tuesday (work)

  • Another turkey salad sandwich with salad and satsuma.

Wednesday

  • Pillsbury's "Make-Ahead Turkey Tetrazzini" with salad. Ingredients: leftover turkey, spaghetti, peas, butter, last of the half-and-half, sherry, broth, nutmeg, parsley, Parmesan.

Thursday (work)

  • Leftover tetrazinni with salad.

Friday

  • "Tuna-Potato Cakes" from Better Homes and Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith Books, 2008) with salad. Ingredients: leftover mashed potatoes, tuna, celery, dried bread crumbs, seasoning.

Saturday (work)

  • "Two-Step Crunchy Chicken Strips" from Better Homes & Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith, 2008) with salad and parsley rice. Ingredients: chicken strips, crushed cheese crackers, and light ranch dressing.

Soupy Sunday

  • Probably make soup from the frozen turkey carcass and serve it with biscuits and salad. Ingredients: turkey carcass, frozen vegetables, no-salt added diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, bay, thyme, pepper, parsley, broth, potatoes and/or rice or barley.
05 December 2009

Jambalaya Fail

Hillshire Farm's faux Jambalaya was, sadly, a fail. The rice mix, after simmering for 20 minutes was still crunchy. Extending the cooking time did not help. Also, the dish was unbelievably salty. Oh, I knew Rice-A-Roni's Spanish Rice mix contained over half my daily value of sodium per serving, but I deluded myself into believing that would be okay since I would also use no-salt-added tomatoes and unsalted butter.

Well, it wasn't okay. Indeed, so far from okay that The Husband threw the leftovers away!

Now I'm kind of bummed, because it's been a long time since I've had a supper fail and I worry I've lost my foo. Will Sunday's turkey also be a fail?
01 December 2009

Rooting for Rutabaga

My mother, for many years now, has served mashed rutabaga at Thanksgiving. And, for many of those years, I hated rutabagas and would not eat it. Then, I don't know, my taste buds woke up and saw sense -- rutabagas are delicious!

How my mother makes mashed rutabaga:
Peel and dice a large rutabaga into small chunks.
Cook in boiling water about 25 minutes or until tender.
Drain and mash with butter, evaporated milk, salt and pepper to taste.
I know using evaporated milk sounds a little weird, but it lends a richness and creaminess to the mash which cannot be beat. You could lighten this recipe by using low fat evaporated milk, if you liked.

Paula Deen has a tasty-sounding recipe for "mashed rutabagas" which eliminates the dairy, but adds sugar and fatback. I Paula Deen, even if her recipes will be the death of me.
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