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30 December 2010

Foodie Goals I Met/Failed to Meet in 2010

So, we're come to that time of year when many people like to look back and see if they've managed to accomplish any of the things they set out to do over the last twelve months ... If you're me, however, you kind-of grit your teeth and only allow yourself quick, sideways glances back over the year! 2010 was a bit of a doozy and there was much of it I would as soon never experience again.

Seriously, 2010, you were pretty shit. Yes, you brought me solar panels and a sweet slow cooker. You also brought me to the attention of more doctors and surgeons than any one woman wants to see in her lifetime and, oh, I begrudge you that. Solar panels and slow cookers don't begin to make up for it.

Anyway, for 2010, I picked ten foodie things I wanted to try (or get better at). In a blind fit of optimism, I said I would:
  1. Add more interesting fruits and vegetables to our diet
  2. The is was mostly a fail. We're eating more fruits and vegetables than ever, but we tend to eat the same ones over and over again -- we basically find something we like and eat it until we are sick of it.
  3. Experiment with yeast doughs
  4. What possessed me to write such a thing? Yeast breads come from the bakery!
  5. Explore more kinds of sustainable, safe seafood
  6. While I try to buy "best-choice" fish (as defined by Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch), I am not always as careful as I should be -- more out of laziness and "who's going to know?" than anything else, unfortunately.
  7. Learn how to make sausage
  8. Well, I've ground beef and borrowed many library books about home sausage making ...
  9. Make home-made yoghurt once a month
  10. Not even once in the past year.
  11. Make meatloaf more often (per The Husband)
  12. This I did succeed at. Score one for me!
  13. Master my food processor
  14. Was doing quite well mastering the machine, but then I was given a julienne disk in November and I just cannot master it. I have ruined so many carrots and potatoes on that spinning disc of Fail.
  15. Try cooking different kinds of whole grains in my rice cooker
  16. Still haven't gotten beyond pearl barley and different kinds of rice.
  17. Use my cookbook collection more
  18. Succeeded pretty well with this -- mostly because I ran out of bookshelves and had to weed my collection!
  19. Use my slow cooker once a week
  20. Oh, this I did brilliantly. Haven't used my slow cooker so much in years and have gone from hating it to thinking it is my favorite small appliance! It helped that The Husband gave me a new, smaller slow cooker larded with very useful features like a timer and warm setting. Still using the ginormous, unsophisticated old one for soups and stews, though.
I do not feel I accomplished nearly as much as I hoped, but I made a start and plan to continue with these goals into 2011. So help me, I will master my julienne disk and I will bake yeast bread.
29 December 2010

Stinky Pear

Way back in September, I bought a jar of green walnut preserves when I thought I was buying a jar of pickled green walnuts. While the preserves turned out to be pretty yummy, they weren't what I wanted and I wasn't sure what to do with them.

While eating them straight from the jar is not without merit, I've found I quite liked them with baked pears and blue cheese. I use DCI Cheese Company's recipe for "Stilton Warm Honey Pears" except I used whatever blue takes me fancy and two tablespoons juice from a jar of green walnut preserves instead of the honey-water syrup called for in the recipe. It makes a pretty tasty snack and is quite easy to prepare.
Stinky Pear 
1 large, firm Red Bartlett pear
1 oz. blue cheese, at room temperature
2 tablespoons green walnut preserve juice
6-8 preserved walnuts

Preheat oven to 350° F. Cut pear in half lengthwise. Remove seeds and stem. Place pear halves, cut side down, on a baking sheet and bake 20 minutes. Turn halves over and bake another 20 minutes -- until a light, golden brown and soft. Remove pan from oven and let cool for about 15 minutes. Plate pear halves.

Cut cheese in half. Roll into balls. Spoon one tablespoon walnut juice over each pear half, place the blue cheese in the hollow of each half, garnish with preserved walnuts, serve.

Stinky Roast Pear
28 December 2010

Beanie Beans

Baked Beanies


Doesn't that look delicious? This is only the second time I've made baked beans and I'm pretty pleased with the results. (I did end up baking them a lot longer and lower than directed, but that seems to have done them no harm).

I made these using a kit I picked up at Rogers Orchards -- basically a sack of navy and soldier beans with a seasoning packet and a wee jug of maple syrup. While I baked the beans as directed in a 300°F oven for five hours, they still weren't quite perfect so I stirred in about six ounces of Lamothe's Maple Farmhouse Barbeque Sauce, turned the oven down to its lowest setting, and left the beans baked while I slept. In the morning, the beans were, indeed, perfect.

Ingredients: navy & soldier beans, water, brown sugar, onion, Granny Smith apple, bacon, salt, pepper, and spices.
27 December 2010

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken, FTW

Roasted a chicken in my slow cooker for the first time and it turned out so well!

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken Dinner

The method is quite simple -- skin a whole chicken, stuff it with a handful of garlic gloves, rub the bird with Bell's Seasoning or whatever herb rub takes your fancy (thinking Penzeys Northwoods blend might be interesting), stick it breast-side down in the slow cooker, and cook it on low for eight hours or until the chicken is thoroughly cooked.

Cooking the bird breast side down probably sounds a bit weird, but I thought it would help to keep the breast from drying out. I know, you're thinking "It's a slow cooker, woman! Things don't dry out!" Well, I have had a few bad experiences with dry, horrible, chalky chicken and didn't want to risk it. Anyway, at eight hours, my chicken was falling apart and the breast was swimming in a shallow pool of chicken juices -- so no worry about chalky chicken here! Not wanting to waste those juices, I skimmed them and make a quick gravy by whisking them together with a cornstarch slurry and bringing them to boil.

As delicious as this chicken was, I wouldn't use this method if feeding company -- the chicken's breast was a bit flattened and the whole thing was just a bit homely when compared to the beautiful, golden roast chickens that come out of my oven. However, this is an incredibly convenient cooking method and perfectly suited to the work week.

Slow Cooker Roast Chicken

I have a few chicken recipes that essentially require their victims to cook a whole chicken before doing a million fiddly things with the flesh and I think those recipes might actually now be doable. I could roast a chicken in my slow cooker while I slept and then do all the fiddly bits when I was good and ready!

Menu Plan Monday, 27 December

We've been promised twelve-to-eighteen inches of snow and it looks like Mother Nature's trying hard to live up to that promise! It's been snowing since Sunday morning and Peapod has called me to tell me won't they be delivering to Death Mountain this afternoon. Happily, we have enough food on hand to get us through until Wednesday ... when we'll run out of milk. At that point, The Husband will quickly turn feral without a steady supply of tea and our situation will become very grim, indeed!

Monday
  • Slow cooker roast chicken with rice and peas. Ingredients: skinned whole chicken from the freezer and Bell's Seasoning. (I've seen many recipes for crockpot roast chicken on the Interwebz and thought I might give it a try ... skinning the chicken, because there's no way the skin's going to crisp in the slow cooker and slimy skin is just ewww).
Tuesday
  • Leftover chicken and homemade maple baked beans with cucumbers in light Italian vinaigrette.
Wednesday
  • "Lemon Turkey Cutlets" from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook with "Lemon-Barley Pilaf" and carrots. Ingredients: turkey cutlets, flour, egg, lemon juice, salt-free Italian-seasoned bread crumbs, minced onion, canola oil. (I made these cutlets last week, too, and they were so awesome I want to eat them every week).
Thursday
  • Slow cooker "Hungarian Pot Roast with Sour Cream & Paprika Gravy" from Kalyn's Kitchen with garlicky green beans. Ingredients: roast from freezer, onions, paprika, sour cream, Muir Glen no-salt-added diced tomatoes, roasted peppers, steak seasoning, beef stock.
New Year's Eve
  • Takeaway -- Mexican or Chinese -- and Netflix.
New Year's Weekend
  • Creamy corn chowder with biscuits, salad, and cake (because the new year deserves a sweet and simple start). Ingredients: Frontier Soup's Illinois Prairie Corn Chowder mix, heavy cream, potatoes, onion, turkey broth, shredded Cabot's Seriously Sharp cheddar (stirred in at the end for extra yumminess). This mix makes some of the best corn chowder I have ever eaten.
26 December 2010

Christmas Week Cookery Catch-Up

I'm a bit surprised by how well I managed to stick to this week's meal plan. I thought for sure I would chuck a wobbly by Wednesday and we would live on takeaway for the rest of the week. Instead, I found sticking to my meal plan gave me a comforting feeling of control and organization which seemed to make the rest of my life more manageable.

What I cooked:

Monday, as we were all a bit plague-ridden, I started the week with a big pot of hearty, creamy, utterly nomilicious corn chowder. To make this chowder, I use Frontier Soup's Illinois Prairie Corn Chowder mix, heavy cream, potatoes, onion, and turkey broth. The recipe calls for chicken broth, but I think the turkey broth gives it a richer flavor. If I'm not using turkey broth, I usually stir a cup of shredded Cabot's Seriously Sharp in at the end for extra yumminess.

I buy this mix from King Arthur Flour, but keep thinking I should just buy it in bulk directly from Frontier Soup and cut out the middleman. I love KAF, whenever I buy this soup mix from them, my cart always ends up full of many other things and my pantry simply runneth over with baking supplies.

Lemony Turkey Cutlets

Tuesday, I made "Lemon Turkey Cutlets" from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook and served them with garlicky mashed potatoes and tender peas. I loved making these cutlets -- they reminded me so much of the chicken cutlets my mother made when I was a child -- and I look forward to making them a regular meal plan item.

They make for a perfect work night or in-a-hurry supper as they're dead easy to assemble and take mere minutes to cook. Simply dip turkey cutlets into a little flour (I used King Arthur Flour's 100% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour), then into a mixture of beaten egg and lemon juice, and then into bread crumbs mixed with finely minced onion (I used seasoned whole wheat crumbs and rehydrated onion flakes). Just before I plated these, I sprinkled them with extra lemon juice for a little more zing.

Seriously, these cutlets were so good that I will be making them again next week!

Semi-homemade Pot Roast

Wednesday's "Beef Pot Roast" from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook also turned out really well. Not very pretty, no, but quite tasty and so very easy. Just pour frozen sliced carrots and diced onions onto the bottom of your slow cooker insert and top with a browned chuck roast. Mix together cream of celery soup, low-sodium beef broth, steak sauce, and onion soup mix. Pour over roast and cook on Low for 8 hours. To make assemblage even more mindless for a workday morning, I omitted browning the roast and mixed the sauce ingredients together the night before.

I did not have any steak sauce so I used reduced sodium Worcestershire sauce and I think that substitution worked fine as the ingredients are pretty similar.

This recipe makes a lot of sauce -- I did thicken the sauce with a cornstarch slurry to make an amazing gravy, but four cups was quite a bit more than we could use. Even if I made shepherd's pie with the leftover roast, I would only need two cups of gravy at most!

While we both thought this pot roast tasted very good, I'm not certain I would make it again as it's rather high in sodium. I used the lowest sodium ingredients I could find, but it's still too salty to suit my dietary preferences.

Christmas Eve's Eve Perogi

For dinner on Christmas Eve, I cooked up some fresh cheese-filled pirogi I bought at our local Polish grocery. To cook these, I sautéed chopped red onion in butter and olive oil until they were translucent and starting to brown around the edges. Then I pushed the onions to the edge of the pan and added the pirogi, cooking them until both sides were a lovely golden brown and some of the onions were a little charred. We ate the pirogi topped with sour cream and shredded beets with horseradish and they were good, but I will stick with the cheese-and-potato pirogi from now on as just-cheese tasted a little too dessert-y -- like cheese-filled blintzes.
24 December 2010

Supper in a Pinch

When I'm not hosting Christmas Dinner, I like to make something nice but uncomplicated for Christmas Eve supper -- something like roasted Cornish rock hens with buttery peas and garlicky mashed potatoes with lashings of gravy, perhaps. This year, I'd been looking forward to roasted pheasant (we have two in the freezer from our October excursion to the Meat House) with spinach-barley risotto. Alas, we all contracted the plague and I was too fevered to remember to thaw the pheasants.

Happily, I had a pound of thawed organic boneless skinless chicken breasts in the fridge and a quick rummage around the pantry suggested something tasty might be done with them. I used a packet of French onion soup mix, a can of chopped artichoke hearts, two cloves of pressed garlic, olive oil, and chopped julienned oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes to make Knorr's "Sun-Dried Tomato Artichoke Chicken."

Christmas Eve Dinner


While it's certainly not the prettiest dish I ever made, it was surprisingly tasty and I would like to make it again. However, there's a lot of sodium in this dish and I'd have to figure out how to cut it without changing the taste. I might try Recipezaar's "Substitute for 1 Envelope Onion Soup Mix" as I've never seen any reduced or low-sodium onion soup mixes for sale in my area.
20 December 2010

Menu Plan Monday, 20 December

December feels like it's flying by! How are your Christmas plans coming along?  Are you one of those much envied organized people who has been perfectly ready for Christmas since 1 December?  Or are you like me -- pretty sure you've forgotten a present somewhere, only posted your Christmas cards this morning, and still don't know what you're cooking (or wearing) for Christmas dinner?

Every year, I wig out the weekend before Christmas and wonder why I am running around doing all this stuff I don't want to do (shopping and card writing, mostly) when all I require for Christmas is a twinkly tree and a little loving-kindness.

Yet here I am, again, wigging out.  Next year will be different, I promise you. Even if I have to turn it into a New Year's Resolution to make it so.

Monday
  • Corn chowder with garlicky ham sandwiches and satsuma mandarins.
Tuesday
  • "Lemon Turkey Cutlets" from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook with garlicky mashed potatoes and carrots. Ingredients: turkey cutlets, flour, egg, lemon juice, salt-free Italian-seasoned bread crumbs, minced onion, canola oil.
Wednesday
  • "Beef Pot Roast" from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook with rice cooker barley risotto. Ingredients: chuck roast, frozen sliced carrots, frozen chopped onions, cream of celery soup, low-sodium beef broth, Worcestershire sauce.
Thursday
  • "Jambalaya Bake" from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook with green beans. Ingredients: boneless chicken breast, Andouille sausage, low-sodium chicken broth, Muir Glen no-salt-added diced tomatoes,  Zatarain's Jambalaya mix..
Christmas Eve
  • Cheese and potato filled pirogi sautéed with onion in olive oil until browned then topped with sour cream and shredded beets with horseradish. Served with peas or whatever other vegetable jumps out of the freezer.  (This is my favorite winter "thoughtless" supper).
Christmas Weekend
  • Visiting family and I'm in charge of dessert -- probably chocolate cream and mixed berry pies with fresh whipped cream.
16 December 2010

O, Delicious Turkey Loaf

Over the weekend, I made "Turkey Loaf with Sun-dried Tomatoes" from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook. I'd never cooked anything from Lee's cookbooks before, but I am  familiar with them as they tend to be pretty popular with my library patrons. I picked up Semi-Homemade on a whim (hundreds of library patrons cannot be wrong?) and immediately proceeded to cover the entire cookbook in sticky notes.

Oh, so many sticky notes!

Anyway, I made "Turkey Loaf with Sun-dried Tomatoes" and it was good. Not as good as "All-American Meatloaf" from America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook, no, but good enough I'd be happy to eat it again and I look forward to trying all the other recipes I've decked out with sticky notes.


Semi-homemade Turkey Loaf

Lee's recipe is really simple and it couldn't have taken more than fifteen minutes to assemble this loaf. I didn't have any frozen chopped bell peppers, so I just used chopped fresh and didn't notice any taste or textural weirdness in the finished loaf. Also, Lee says to bake the meatloaf in loaf pan, but I don't like to do that with a meatloaf as they seem to come out too greasy and I feel I can't glaze the meatloaf properly. Instead, I use the loaf pan as a mold for the meatloaf and then decant the shaped loaf into a rectangular baker and paste every visible part of the meatloaf with glaze. The glaze is probably less important if you're serving a meatloaf with gravy, but I prefer a good tomato-y, tangy-sweet glaze to gravy.

The loaf-pan-mold technique is also handy if I'm making the meatloaf ahead of time. I just line the pan with long lengths of cling wrap, fill it with meatloaf mix, and the wrap the extra cling wrap around the pan to seal it.  Keeps the meatloaf all fresh and tidy in the fridge while taking up less room than my rectangular baker.
15 December 2010

Egg Sarnie the Second

Last week's egg sandwich was pretty good, but I've had a bit of practice now and know how to do it better. My wee sandwich tastes remarkably like an Egg McMuffin, but is (hopefully) more healthful. Yes, I know, I'm only finally catching on to what thousands of home cooks figured out years ago, but I'm still pretty pleased with myself!

Egg Sarnie 2

I grease a small ramekin with cooking spray, drop Farmer's Cow egg in, give the yolk a bit of a swirl with a fork, and then pop the ramekin into the microwave for about 40 seconds.

While the egg is cooking, I toast a Fiber One light wheat multigrain English muffin (100 calories, 150mg sodium, and 8g dietary fiber) and wrap two pieces of Canadian bacon in a paper towel. When the egg is done, I microwave the bacon for about a minute.

I smear the toasted muffin with a wedge of Laughing Cow's light garlic & herb spread and then top it with egg, bacon, and cracked pepper. Nom.
14 December 2010

Boo, Bland Bulgur

Last week I was all set to make Betty Crocker's "Chicken & Veggies with Bulgur" from Whole Grains: Easy Everyday Recipes (Wiley, 2007) when I realized that, while the recipe called for bulgur, the photo showed barley. Which should I use? I am a fan of both, after all! A quick tweet to @BettyCrocker resolved the issue -- either would work, but as bulgur was in the recipe, they recommended using that.

Well, I used bulgur and we thought the dish was okay, but a little bland. Next time, I'll try the recipe with barley and cook the chicken and vegetables with garlic, dill, and a little lemon zest. As the recipe is written, the chicken and vegetables lack any seasoning whatsoever and, oh, it just made my tongue go "meh."

Chicken & Bulgur

Ingredients: bulgur, low sodium chicken broth, dill, garlic, boneless skinless chicken breast, carrots, onion.
13 December 2010

Menu Plan Monday, 13 December

Rain ... Wind ... Gray ... Cold ... Bleak ... Grim ... Depressing ... Winter.   All I want to do is curl up on the couch and mainline carbs until the sun comes out again.

Is it any surprise this week's menu is pretty heavy on hot, comforting foods?

Monday
  • Slow cooker "Vegetable-Beef-Barley Soup" from Betty Crocker's Whole Grains: Easy Everyday Recipes with biscuits. Ingredients: green beans, corn, stew beef, bell pepper, pearl barley, thyme, low-sodium beef broth, Muir Glen no-salt-added diced tomatoes, garlic, low-sodium tomato sauce.
Tuesday
  • Wholegrain crisp bread smeared with Laughing Cow and topped with thin slivers of green apple,  satsuma mandarins, and low-sodium vegetable soup.
Wednesday
  • "Chicken & Veggies with Quinoa" from Betty Crocker's Whole Grains: Easy Everyday Recipes. Ingredients: quinoa, low sodium chicken broth, green beans, carrot, mushrooms, bell pepper, boneless skinless chicken breast, rosemary garlic.
Thursday
  • Low-sodium ham smeared with Laughing Cow and wrapped around a garlicky pickle wedge (disturbingly delicious combo), satsuma mandarins, and Greek yoghurt with blueberry jam.
Friday
  • "Baked Fish Fingers" from The America's Test Kitchen Healthy Family Cookbook with "Lemon-Barley Pilaf" and steamed green beans. Ingredients: cod, panko, egg white, mustard, thyme, pearl barley, lemon, low sodium chicken broth, lemon zest, carrot, onion, bell pepper, bay.
Saturday/Sunday
  • Slow cooker "Easiest-Ever Paella" from Sandra Lee's Semi-Homemade: The Complete Cookbook. Ingredients: boneless skinless chicken breast, leftover andouille, low-sodium chicken broth, Muir Glen no-salt-added diced tomatoes, Spanish rice mix, peas, onion, shrimp, canned artichokes.
09 December 2010

Egg Sarnie

I wanted an egg sandwich for breakfast -- something like an Egg McMuffin, but homemade as it's too freakin' cold in the morning now to leave the house unless I absolutely have to.

Egg Sarnie

I greased a small ramekin with cooking spray, dropped an egg (Farmer's Cow, ftw) in, gave the yolk a bit of a swirl with a fork, and then popped the ramekin into the microwave for about 45 seconds.

While the egg was cooking, I toasted a bagel and wrapped two pieces of Canadian bacon in a paper towel. When the egg was done, I microwaved the bacon for about a minute.

I smeared the toasted bagel with a wedge of Laughing Cow's light garlic & herb spread. Topped it with egg, bacon, and cracked pepper. Served it with a satsuma mandarin.

Tasted quite good, I think, but the bagel was a bit too big. Needed to use an English muffin or one of those smaller "diet" bagels.
07 December 2010

Pie-A-uh

Monday, made Betty Crocker's "Easy-Does-It Barley Paella" from Betty Crocker's Whole Grains Cookbook. Simple to make and pretty tasty -- I will be making this paella again.

Barley Paella

I had to make a few alterations to the original recipe, mostly because of the ingredients I had on hand. Substituting a can of Muir Glen's fire roasted diced tomatoes for a can of petite diced didn't make much of a difference, step-wise, but substituting two links of Aidell's fully-cooked "Cajun Style" andouille sausage for bulk chorizo made a significant difference -- I cooked the onion, bell pepper and garlic first and added the andouille in at the end with the chicken and shrimp.

I also cooked the pearl barley in low-sodium chicken broth in my rice cooker. This is, frankly, my favorite way to cook barley and I recommend it to anyone who has a rice cooker. I just dump a rice cup of barley into the rice cooker pot, fill the rice pot to the "White Rice 1" line, and turn the machine on. It starts up with "Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star" and then away it goes, steaming my barley to perfection.

Recipe says it serves five, but we only managed four (generous) servings.

Lazilicious Potato Pancakes

For Sunday dinner, I whipped up a batch of latkes using King Arthur Flour's potato pancake mix. Oh, they were delicious. But I knew they would be, because I've made them before! Shh! Don't tell my mother!

Latkes (Potato Pancakes)

It's a good thing my mother doesn't read this or she'd be shaking her head in sorrow for having been given a daughter who is too lazy to grate potatoes ... or, maybe, she'd be sick with envy? No more shredded, bloody knuckles! Have to grate the onion and potato together by hand, she says. Can't use a food processor, she says, as the texture is all wrong. And, you know, her latkes are truly excellent ... but I just don't have the time.

Making this mix is dead easy -- just add water to the mix and let it sit for twenty minutes. Then drop three-tablespoon dollops into a pan of hot oil and fry until golden brown.

I added two tablespoons of dehydrated chives to the water/mix combination, because chives and potatoes are too good a pairing to pass up. And topped with sour cream? They become the perfect comfort food.

Since I my skillet wasn't very big, I could only do two pancakes at a time so I turned my oven on warm and lined a platter with a thick layer of papertowels. As the pancakes came out of the oil, I transferred them to the platter in the oven where they staid all toasty-warm.

As the mix can be refrigerated, I made eight pancakes for the two of us and then refrigerated the rest. In the end, I managed to get thirteen pancakes from the mix which is not bad considering the package said "18-20 full-size pancakes."

Conventiently, KAF is offering free shipping on all orders over forty dollars through Thursday. Time to buy more pancake mix?
06 December 2010

Menu Plan Monday, 6 December

I wake in darkness, return home in darkness, and quietly freeze to death betweentimes. And it's not even winter, yet! Such weather calls for hot, hearty dishes featuring ingredients like barley and bulgur.

Most of this week's recipes come from Betty Crocker's Whole Grains: Easy Everyday Recipes (Wiley, 2007) which is one of my favorite whole grain cookbooks, because it's full of pretty pictures and uses grains I'm willing (and able) to eat.

Monday
  • "Easy-Does-It Barley Paella" with steamed green beans. Ingredients: pearl barley, low-sodium chicken broth, chorizo, onion, bell pepper, garlic, Muir Glen's fire-roasted diced tomatoes, smoked paprika, boneless skinless chicken breast, shrimp, peas, artichoke hearts.
Tuesday
  • Sliced pear smeared with Laughing Cow light garlic & herb spread and wrapped in prosciutto with strawberry yoghurt and unsalted pretzels.
Wednesday
Thursday
  • Laughing Cow light garlic & herb spread wedges wrapped in prosciutto with dried apricots, unsalted almonds, and low-sodium vegetable soup.
Friday
  • "Spanish Rice Bake" with cucumbers and grape tomatoes in light Italian. Ingredients: brown rice, onion, bell pepper, corn, low-sodium condensed tomato soup, shredded Monterey Jack, rehydrated cilantro, sour cream, guacamole.
Saturday/Sunday
  • "Barley Burger Stew." Ingredients: farmers' market ground beef, onions, pearl barley, Penzeys bold taco seasoning, celery, white beans, low-sodium tomato juice.
01 December 2010

Cook This, Not That

Laura at OrgJunkie was talking about her recipe criteria checklist -- a helpful little set of criteria she created to determine which recipes make her weekly menu. And, you know, that's a really good idea! I guess I kinda-sorta have a loose criteria for work night recipes, but I've thought too much about it and, possibly, that is why I almost never manage to stick to a menu plan.

Sometimes, when I'm typing out a menu, I'll tell myself I'll have lots of energy to do something extra fancy on Wednesday night ... and I'll be lying to myself. I can't tell you how many times I've come home from work, averted my eyes from a sticky-note speckled Cook's Illustrated on the kitchen counter, and ordered delivery. I must accept I don't have the energy to tackle anything big or complicated on a work night.

Work Night Recipe Criteria
  1. Meal must be on the table no more than an hour from the time I arrive home.
  2. Recipe instructions must be short and to the point. KISS, baby, KISS.
  3. Peapod must carry any ingredients I don't already own.
  4. Recipe should be low in sodium and fat (or easily altered to be so) to allow me the illusion of healthful eating.
  5. Recipe must come from a source I trust -- no experimenting with random recipe from who knows where on a work night!
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