25 February 2010

Jelly Roll Quilt-Along 2010

I was very excited to hear about Moose on the Porch Quilts's 2010 Jelly Roll Quilt-Along. Since we moved here, two years ago, I have not been quilting as much as I would like. Yes, I've made some pretty curtains and runners, but I haven't made any proper quilts. Indeed, it's been so long that, when I go in my sewing room and start sifting through patterns and fabrics, I become overwhelmed by my choices and start to doubt whether I have any idea what I'm doing.

Yes, thank you, I know I am weird.

So Moose on the Porch Quilts's 2010 Jelly Roll Quilt-Along seems right up my alley:
From March 1 to August 2, every other Monday, instructions for a new 12" block will be posted. All of the blocks will be made from jelly roll strips and yardage.

Each block will be designed by a different person. Every two weeks there will be a guest blogger on my blog introducing herself and her block. At the end, you will have made a fun quilt 58" x 72.
As every block will be different, I am unlikely to get bored and I should get lots of practice with different techniques. With two weeks to complete each block, I have a definite (but generous) deadline to meet so no shirking (I hope) but no panicking, either!

I think I will be using a jelly roll of Sandy Gervais's "Objects of Desire" for Moda, but I have not purchased the background and sashing fabric, outer border fabric, or binding fabric so I do not have a picture for you all yet.

Methinks I shall need to visit the fabric store on Saturday ...

Surprising Pot Roast

Desperation Pot Roast

Surprising, because it was extremely delicious. Yes, I made snide comments about my slow cooker and, suddenly, it starts turning out some really yummy things. Must have known I was thinking about putting it out to pasture, eh?

To make this pot roast, I stuck a 3-ish pound chuck roast in the bottom of my slow cooker with the thin layer of fat on top. I mixed together half a bottle of Good Housekeeping Mushroom Marsala Steak Sauce, a handful of dried parsley, some dehydrated shallot flakes, and a can of light cream of mushroom soup and poured it over the roast. I set the slow cooker on LOW and let the roast cook for ten hours.

I served the roast with carrots, rice, and gravy and it was delicious. The gravy, in particular, was excellent -- if there had been no roast, we could have quite happily just have eaten rice and gravy. I understand that isn't a healthy meal choice, but we are all allowed to backslide every once in a while, right?

24 February 2010

Crunchy Chicken Goodness

Onion Chicken Fingers

"Crunchy Onion Chicken Tenders" turned out quite deliciously -- crispy-crunchy outside, moist-tender inside, and so easy! Indeed, they were so tasty and easy that I think I might have to start making french-fried onion bits a regular grocery item. (So much for my cunning plan to reduce the contents of my cupboards).

To make these tenders, I just crushed up french-fried onion bits and then tossed them with a little all purpose flour. I dipped the tenders in beaten egg, coated them in onion crumbs, and baked them for about 15 minutes in a 400° oven. We ate the tenders with blue cheese mustard, parsley rice, pickled beets, and green beans.


22 February 2010

Menu Plan Monday, Week Forty-Six

Last week's (ultimately propitious) discovery of tinned asparagus at the back of my canned goods cupboard reminded me that it has been a while since I did a decent kitchen round-up. Every couple months, I like to go through my kitchen and round-up all the food oddities I have acquired and then abandoned to its dark reaches. Sometimes, I am pleasantly surprised, but usually I am left scratching my head -- Who thought that bottle of marsala mushroom steak sauce was a good idea? Why did I buy the economy size can of french-fried onion bits? How did I not remember the chopped clams were coming up on their "best by" date? Where was all the pumpkin purée hiding when I needed it last month?

And so, my darlings, this week's menu plan is all about using these pantry oddities/overstocks in ways which are (mostly) nutritious and (more importantly) unlikely to overset my gippy intestines:

Work Lunches/Suppers:
  • "Creamy Pumpkin Soup" (uses one extraneous tinned pumpkin & one evaporated milk) w/ soup crackers, tinned fruit, and yoghurt
  • "Crunchy Onion Chicken Tenders" with parsley rice and tinned French-cut green beans (uses freezer chicken, open aseptic low-sodium chicken broth, and the end of that can of french fried onions)
  • "Linguini with Clam Sauce" with tinned carrots (uses up the soon-to-be-outdated clams and then ends of several open packets of whole-grain linguini)
  • "Golden Pork Chops" with tinned carrots (uses freezer chops, creamed corn, cornbread stuffing mix)
  • My Slow Cooker Roast with mashed potatoes and tinned peas (uses freezer roast, mushroom marsala steak sauce, and reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup).
  • "Baked Custard" (uses extra eggs & evaporated milk)
  • "Pumpkin Banana Nut Bread" (uses extra eggs, tinned pumpkin, frozen bananas, walnuts I can't eat -- will be feeding these loaves to my coworkers, newspaper delivery woman, and mailman)

18 February 2010

Good Enough Pork Chops

Monday's supper was just not photographable -- the swamp green of the tinned asparagus combined with beige-grey cream of mushroom soup and creamy-white potatoes did not make the purtiest looking dish ever. And, you know, who cares? Because, for a recipe that used only 5 ingredients (all of which I had on hand), it tasted surprisingly good. Good enough that The Husband had seconds. Good enough that I'll be making it again.
Good Enough Pork Chops

4 thick cut boneless pork chops, well trimmed
Salt-free Italian seasoning blend
1 can reduced-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 soup can milk
1 can asparagus cuts, drained

Preheat oven to 350°F. Sprinkle chops with Italian seasoning and brown in a sauté pan (about 4 minutes for each side). Place chops in a square baking dish. Combine soup, milk, and asparagus and dump over chops. Bake, uncovered, for about 45 minutes. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes.
When I make this again, if I can find it, I will use cream of asparagus soup.

14 February 2010

Menu Plan Monday, Week Forty-Five

This week's menu plan is not particularly adventuresome as I am currently following trying to follow a low-residue diet:

  • Baked boneless pork loin chops (from freezer) with steamed carrots and mashed potatoes.

Tuesday (work)

  • Butternut squash bisque w/ soup crackers, chocolate pudding cup, and tinned peaches.


  • Cheese ravioletti in smooth tomato sauce (chunky freezer sauce run through food processor) with lots of shredded Mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. Also, tinned French-cut green beans.

Thursday (work)

  • Pea soup w/ soup crackers, vanilla pudding cup, and tinned peaches.


  • Baked salmon fillet w/ mashed potato and dilly carrots.

Saturday (work)

  • "Lighter" fettuccine alfredo w/ tinned peas.


  • Baked boneless chicken breasts (from freezer) with parsley rice and tinned French cut green beans.

08 February 2010

No Menu Plan This Week

No menu plan for this week as I met my own digestive Waterloo in the form of a Golden Delicious apple and will be on a low-residue diet for the rest of the week. I've been very bad lately -- eating lots of insoluble/high fiber foods when I darn well know the risks they pose to my scarred innards. The Golden Delicious apple was truly yummy and I enjoyed every crisp bite of it, but not enough to end up in the emergency room! and am in the hospital sucking down spoonfuls of crushed ice for the foreseeable future.

When I am up to eating again, I can start with foods like:
  • Toasted plain bagel w/ honey
  • Plain yoghurt
  • No-pulp orange juice
  • Low-sodium broth-based soups (chicken and stars, anyone?)
  • White rice or refined pasta tossed with a little olive oil or butter
Eventually, I might get up to a piece of poached boneless skinless chicken!

06 February 2010

Souper Friday

Friday's slow cooker "Hamburger Soup With Barley" from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook ended up cooking on the stove as I had forgotten to thaw any ground meat ahead of time. The soup came out pretty well on the stove and made the whole house smell delicious. Of course, as I modified the original recipe to suit my own tastes, it came out rather garlicky!

Bison & Barley Soup

Bison & Barley Soup
1 lb ground bison (or any lean ground meat)
1 medium onion, diced
4 large cloves garlic, pressed
3 carrots, sliced
3 celery ribs, sliced
½ cup pearl barley
Wax carton low-sodium beef broth
2 14.5 oz cans Muir Glen Organic diced tomatoes
1 bay leaf
1 Tbsp. salt-free Italian seasoning blend
1 handful dried parsley
Salt & pepper to taste

Heat a little olive oil in a large French/Dutch oven or stock pot. When oil is fragrant and shimmery, add meat, onion, garlic, celery, and carrots. Cook until meat is no longer pink. Add broth, tomatoes, bay, thyme, and parsley. Bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook for one hour. Remove bay leaf and season to taste.

05 February 2010

Guh-No-Key? Knee-Yo-Key? Delicious!

I was a little worried about making "Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans" from EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners as I had never prepared gnocchi before and was dead cert I would muck the whole thing up. Well, the recipe worked out perfectly and, while my dish did not turn out looking exactly like EatingWell's, it was incredibly delicious. Definitely a repeater.

Gnocchi w/ Spinach & Cheeses

Indeed, the recipe is so easy that it is open to many modifications and, if you wanted, you could probably never eat the same dish twice -- you could meat it up by adding sliced grilled chicken breast or portobello mushrooms chunks and almost any kind of greens could be substituted for the chard. I used a bag of baby spinach, but baby kale or thawed frozen spinach would work well, too. Goat cheese crumbles, instead of Parmesan and mozzarella, might also be a nice change -- especially if you threw in some diced artichoke hearts and roasted red peppers ...

01 February 2010

Menu Plan Monday, Week Forty-Four


  • "Skillet Gnocchi with Chard & White Beans" from EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners. Ingredients: gnocchi, baby spinach (instead of chard), white beans, onion, garlic, Muir Glen fire-roasted diced tomatoes, low-sodium white beans, Italian seasonings, mozzarella, Parmesan.

Tuesday (work)

  • Leftover gnocchi and a yummy blood orange.


  • "Two-Step Crunchy Chicken Strips" from Better Homes & Gardens Quick-Fix Family Favorites (Meredith, 2008) with salad and garlic mashed potatoes. Ingredients: freezer breasts cut into strips, crushed cheese crackers, and light buttermilk ranch dressing.

Thursday (work)

  • Salad with chopped up leftover chicken and pineapple/cantaloupe chunks.

Slow Cooker Friday

  • "Hamburger Soup with Barley" from Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook. Ingredients: beef I ground myself, pearl barley, Muir Glen crushed tomatoes, low-sodium broth, onion, carrots, celery, bay, thyme, parsley.

Sushi Saturday (work)

  • Mmm ... saba and shiro maguro nigiri sushi.


  • "Black-Eyed Peas with Pork & Greens" from EatingWell 500-Calorie Dinners. Ingredients: pork chops from freezer, onion, tomato paste, brown rice, kale, black-eyed peas, garlic, low-sodium chicken broth, cider vinegar, paprika.