30 September 2011

Friday is Turkey Day

While the upstairs freezer overflows with food, the downstairs freezer is mostly empty. Aside from many quart bags of tomato sauce and random frostbitten vegetables, there isn't much of interest down there. Well, there was a turkey. A turkey that had been down there since last December. A turkey I kept forgetting about until Tuesday when I thought "Hey! I should really thaw that turkey in the downstairs freezer!" and actually acted on that thought.

I thought I had a hotel-style turkey breast, but it seemed inordinately large as I dragged it up the stairs. Figuring I'd just bought some kind of big-breasted FrankenTurkey, I wrestled it into the fridge and left it to thaw. When I took it out of the fridge today and removed the million layers of shopping bags it was swathed in, it was clear I had a 14 pound turkey on my hands.

Disassembled Turkey

There are only 2 people in my house. 2 people and 4 cats, yes, but that's still a lot of turkey. I know I bought it on the cheap a couple days after Christmas and, being me, I probably bought the biggest discounted turkey I could find regardless of the practicality of such a purchase.

Anyway, we had a lovely turkey supper tonight with buttery mashed potatoes, rich gravy, and fresh farm stand corn sauteed in butter. Tomorrow, we will have turkey sandwiches for lunch (and, possibly, breakfast). Sunday, I'm thinking turkey pot pie. Then ... turkey enchiladas with the last jar of salsa verde? And, of course, there's always soup.

Fall Supper

28 September 2011

Our Candy Cupboard, Let Me Show You It

Candy CupboardWe like candy, therefore we have a candy cupboard.

We didn't always have a candy cupboard -- candy just free-ranged around the house. This became troublesome when we'd go looking for something particular and have to search the whole house for it. Also, and I'm so ashamed that I cared, I wondered what visitors to our home thought of all the candy we had scattered around! The candy cupboard keeps all our candy tidy and away from judgemental eyes.

We keep lots of different kinds of candy in the cupboard as we never know what we'll want when the mood strikes. I lean more towards gummy and fruity things, but The Husband is a firm believer in chocolate.

We get our candy from many different sources -- local grocery stores, the local Polish import shop, Lindt, Munsons, Food Ireland, Amazon, shops discovered on vacation, etc -- and this can create a problem when we run out of something particularly yummy and cannot remember where it came from. Saving the wrapper helps as, frankly, pretty much all of it can be found on the Internet.

(Would calling it a sweets cupboard sound more posh and properly adult? "Be a dear, dahling, and fetch me down the Bissinger's raspberry yumberry gummy pandas from the sweets cupboard.")

27 September 2011

A Mix A Week: Stonewall Kitchen Peppermint Whoopie Pie

I had planned on baking up a box of King Arthur Flour's Pumpkin Cheesecake Bars this past weekend to keep up with my Mix A Week Challenge, but The Husband complained so bitterly about me not baking anything he could eat (hello? last week's cookies?) that I caved and offered to make up the boxes of Stonewall Kitchen's Peppermint Whoopie Pies mix instead. My offer was not completely altruistic as I realized baking whoopie pies meant I got to try out my new whoopie pie pans!

Making Whoopies

Aren't they cute? Nonstick, lightweight, and perfectly sized. Stonewall Kitchen sells 'em, but I bought mine off on Amazon -- $13.36 each plus free Prime shipping and no sales tax.

The mix was extremely simple to prepare and assemble. It took five minutes to make each batch of batter and only ten minutes for the cakes to bake. Yes, they did have to cool for about half an hour before I could fill and assemble them, but that gave me plenty of time to make the filling and read a little of Emma Donoghue's Inseparable. Indeed, it took so little time to make these whoopie pies that I ended up making both boxes. That's sixteen peppermint whoopie pies -- enough for The Husband and work.

Stonewall Kitchen Peppermint Whoopie Pies

My only complaint was that the mix did not provide enough crushed peppermint candies to properly coat the edges of all the whoopie pies, but this was easily fixed by crushing up some peppermint candy canes I found in the back of our candy cupboard.

Yes, we have a candy cupboard. Doesn't everyone?

Nine baking mixes down, eight to go!

26 September 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 26 September

Just as my cupboards are overstuffed with baking mixes, so my upstairs freezer is overstuffed with food. Today, I moved a box of frozen pirogues to get at a packet of frozen sausages and discovered two packets of frozen fruit smoothie mix purchased who knows when. You know what this means, right? It means it's time for another kitchen round-up. Time to go through the freezer and cupboards, determine what's been neglected and needs eating up, and cook it.

"Seared Herbed Tuna" from Weight Watchers 4 Ingredient 10 Minute Recipes with parsley rice and garlicky green beans with roasted red peppers from Whole Foods. Ingredients: wild caught tuna steaks, Herbes de Provence, salt, black pepper, olive oil, lemon.

Bountiful Pantry's "Farmhouse Chowder" with melon, hummus, and pretzel crisps.

"Green Salsa Chicken" (using boneless pork loin chops instead of chicken) with rice and "Cumin Corn." Ingredients: garden purple tomatillos, boneless pork loin chops, cilantro, lime, corn, cumin, diced bell peppers, onion.

Repeat Tuesday -- last of Bountiful Pantry's "Farmhouse Chowder" with melon, hummus, and pretzel crisps.

Aidells"Red Beans & Rice" with salad. Ingredients: Aidells cajun style andouille sausage, celery, onion, low-sodium kidney beans, low-sodium tomato sauce, roasted peppers, thyme, garlic, low-sodum chicken broth.

Slow cooker shepherd's pie modified from 101 Things to do with a Slow Cooker. Ingredients: lean ground turkey, thawed frozen mixed vegetables, crushed dehydrated onion slices, parsley, garden basil, low-sodium condensed tomato soup, instant mashed potatoes, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar.

24 September 2011

A Mix A Week: Stonewall Kitchen Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

I'm a little behind with my Mix A Week Challenge so I went a little overboard to compensate and made both boxes of Stonewall Kitchen's Chocolate Sandwich Cookie mix this past weekend. Having made the Vanilla Sandwich Cookie mix last month, I felt I'd had enough practice that I was unlikely to ruin a double batch. And, you know, I did pretty good. Almost creamed an egg shell with the butter (don't ask) and burnt my left hand twice, but those were small troubles.

Remembering the domed vanilla sandwich cookies, I smooshed the chocolate ones down much more firmly and the chocolate ones came out pretty flat. Sometimes, going all "Hulk smash!" is a good thing?

chocolate sandwich cookies

Chocolate Sandwich Cookies

The mix says it makes twenty-four sandwich cookies per box, but I only managed twenty. This is perfectly okay with me as I don't really want a lot of cookies hanging around my kitchen -- half of them went to work with me, anyway, and were all eaten up by the end of the day. Several people asked me for the recipe and I happily pointed them at the Stonewall Kitchen website ... only to find out Stonewall Kitchen doesn't sell this mix, anymore.

Seven mixes down, ten to go!

23 September 2011

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Curry Chicken Soup

Earlier this week, I made Pillsbury's "Lemon-Curry Chicken & Wild Rice Soup" to take to work all week. It's a very easy, semi-homemade recipe using Progresso chicken & wild rice soup as a base. Curry flavor isn't too heavy and the lemon gives it a nice zing.

Easy-Peasy Lemon-Curry Chicken Soup

Ingredients: Progresso chicken & wild rice soup, Penzeys Maharajah curry powder, plain fat-free yoghurt, lemon juice, whole grain white flour, unsalted butter, parsley.

21 September 2011

Suppers by Trader Joe's

Supper a la Trader Joe's

Everything on this plate (except the cherry tomatoes which came from my garden) came from Trader Joe's. What can I say? I am a convert!

Trader Joe's "Peppercorn-Garlic Boneless Pork Tenderloin" with a mix of asparagus, mushrooms, red onions which I added garden cherry tomatoes to and roasted in the oven at 400°F for about 30 minutes. Served over medium-grain white rice rice I cooked in vegetable broth.

Slow-cooked Lamb

I layered the bottom of my small slow cooker with garden cherry tomatoes, thin-sliced red onion, and crushed dried mushrooms, then I plunked Trader Joe's "Black Pepper Burgundy" boneless lamb leg on top and poured in the last inch from an open bottle of pear cider (probably a scant ¼ cup). Cooked everything on low for 8 hours, plus 1 hour on warm. I served it over medium-grain white rice rice cooked in vegetable broth, steamed green beans tossed with pressed garlic and Brummel, and gravy made from the roast's juices.

19 September 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 19 September

It's been a whole month since I last participated in Menu Plan Monday! Where have I been? Well, there was pre-vacation craziness followed by vacation and then post-vacation laziness. Before vacation it was "I have too much to do before we go on vacation! No time to cook!" and after vacation it was very "Meh! I cannot be bothered to cook when this chair is so comfy and this cat so snuggly!"

But now it is time to resume regular habits. To go back to menu planning and home cooking. So help me god.

Trader Joe's "Black Pepper Burgundy" boneless lamb leg cooked in my slow cooker on a bed of cherry tomatoes, thin-sliced red onion, and dried mushrooms. Serve with parsleyed rice and gravy made from juices.

Pillsbury's "Lemon-Curry Chicken & Wild Rice Soup" with hummus and chopped vegetables. Ingredients: Progresso chicken & wild rice soup, Penzeys Maharajah curry powder, plain fat-free yoghurt, lemon juice, whole grain white flour, unsalted butter, parsley.

"Turkey Scallopini w/ Artichokes & Tarragon" (recipe modified from Weight Watchers site) over brown rice. Ingredients: chicken cutlets (from freezer), quartered canned artichoke hearts, lemon juice, white wine, low-sodium chicken broth, tarragon.

Last of Pillsbury's "Lemon-Curry Chicken & Wild Rice Soup" with hummus and chopped vegetables.

"Beef-Vegetable Pie" (modified from WW site) with diced cucumbers & garden tomatoes in light Italian dressing. Ingredients: lean ground beef, dry potato flakes, fat-free half and half, low-fat shredded cheese blend, frozen mixed vegetables, garlic, onion, brown gravy from low-sodium sachet.

"Balsamic Chicken w/ Leeks & Peppers" (modified from WW site) over Israeli (pearl) couscous. Ingredients: boneless chicken breasts (from freezer), leeks, red and yellow bell peppers, rosemary, balsamic vinegar, low-sodium chicken broth, couscous.

16 September 2011

Friday Night Delicious: Crunchy Turkey Cutlets w/ Sauteed Tomatoes

First proper meal we've eaten since we returned from England and, I must say, an excellent recipe for easing back into regular cooking habits. Don't like lemon? Use a salt-free Italian seasoning blend and fresh basil. A little crumbled fresh goat cheese might be also nice, mixed in with the sauteed tomatoes.
Friday Night Deliciousness

Crunchy Turkey Cutlets with Sauteed Tomatoes

2 cups small-fruited (currant) tomatoes
1 pound turkey breast cutlets
½ zested lemon
black pepper
olive oil
egg white
squeeze of fresh lemon juice
salt-free lemon-pepper seasoning blend

Toss the tomatoes and lemon zest together with salt and pepper and set aside.

In a shallow dish (pie plate works well), whisk together the egg white and lemon juice. In another dish, combine cornmeal and salt-free lemon-pepper seasoning blend. Heat  a splash of olive oil in a large frying pan.

Dip a cutlet in egg, then in cornmeal, and cook until golden brown on each side. Remove cooked cutlets to a warm oven. Add tomatoes to hot frying pan and cook for a few minutes, stirring often, until tomatoes begin to crack.

Serve tomatoes over cutlets.

15 September 2011

Sweets from Abroad

Lest you think we spent all our vacation time eating, let me also just say we certainly spent some of it buying food to bring back with us. Yes. And we were doing pretty good until we wandered into the Wigan Thorntons shop. Until then, we'd only acquired a few boxes of Mr Kipling cakes and a couple small bags of chocolate. Thorntons was our undoing. We walked in ...

Thorntons ChocolatesThorntons Chocolates

... and we walked out with a carry-on's worth of chocolate.

British Sweets, ftw!
(Doesn't include all the chocolate we bought as gifts ... or ate before arriving home!)

14 September 2011

Vacations are for Eating

To be fair, we also saw family, shopped, and visited several cultural venues. But, really, we went to England expecting to eat all the foods we'd been missing these past five years. While I mostly succeeded, I do regret not eating a chip buttie/barm while I had the chance. Fish and chips and mushy peas with lashings of salt and malt vinegar are all well and good, but a chip buttie ... well, that's a kind of carbohydrate lover's heaven.

Oh, chip buttie, I'll see you in 2016.

08 September 2011

Proper Jacket Potato

Jacket potato with tuna, sweetcorn, and mayonnaise! Also, a little salad and "English" coleslaw on the side (it's the Heinz salad cream that makes the difference).

Jacket Potato