31 October 2011

Comforting Friday Feast & Leftovers

Friday night, I roasted two Cornish game hens in oven bags at 400°F for 70 minutes. At the 40 minute mark, I added a pan of small yellow potatoes tossed with Ukrainian garlic cloves, olive oil, salt, pepper, and smoked paprika to the oven. While the hens and potatoes roasted, I made carrots in a buttery cream sauce -- boiled thin sliced carrots until tender and then tossed them with butter, sugar, salt, pepper, parsley, and a splash of cream. My paternal grandmother always sprinkled a little sugar on cooked carrots and I used to think she was a crazy lady with an enormous sweet tooth, but a little bit of sugar does make cooked carrots better.

Friday Feast

I don't usually use oven bags, but the hens came that way from the grocery store and I thought I would give it a try. The hens came out very moist and tender, but lacked the beautiful, dark honey-brown skin I associated with roasted fowl. The bags did make for easy clean up, but when did roasting Cornish game hens ever generate much mess?

We split one Cornish hen and I set the other aside for pie, soup, sandwiches, or what have you. I ended up making these rollups on Sunday, after Snowtober. The guv'nor says Connecticut residents might be without power for a week and, while we have a whole-house generator, it seemed like a good idea to start eating up the perishables, just in case.

Leftover Rollups

Shredded leftover Cornish game hen mixed with Goya sofrito sauce, sour cream, and cilantro. Spooned onto three leftover flour tortillas and rolled up. Broiled until the chicken was hot and the tortillas were crispy. Served with sour cream and spicy-sweet corn salsa. If I'd had more tortillas (or needed to feed more people), I would have mixed a (drained, rinsed) can of black beans in with the chicken.

30 October 2011

Saucy Pears

I bought too many pears at the Hill-Stead Farmers Market last week and haven't been able to eat them all before they started getting brown, squishy spots. I needed a quick way to use them up before they went off that didn't involve muffins or cake. A way that would leave their essential "pearness" intact. In short, I needed to make pear sauce.


To make my sauce, I modified the "Pear Sauce" recipe from the Washington State Department of Health and was very pleased with how well my sauce turned out. It was economical, easy, and delicious.

I peeled, cored, and chopped eight pears. Then combined them in a bowl with ¼ cup water, 1 packet Splenda, and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Covered the bowl and microwaved the pears on HIGH for 6 minutes.


Then I stirred the pears, covered them back up, and microwaved them on HIGH for 6 more minutes. When the pears where done, I mashed them a little to break up the bigger chunks.


I found the sauce was still plenty sweet this way and might, next time, completely omit a sweetener. Also, I was a little concerned about how soupy the sauce was when it came out of the microwave the second time, but it thickened up quite nicely when I mashed it.

This recipe filled three 1.25-cup storage containers. I plan on eating it slightly warmed over plain low-fat Greek yoghurt for breakfast or dessert.

28 October 2011

Saturday Pork Chops

Last Saturday, I had really planned on slow cooking skinless chicken thighs with a jar of Goya's sofrito sauce, onion, garlic, and bell pepper for supper. But it turned out I didn't have any chicken thighs in my freezer. I did have a pack of bone-in pork chops, but they were too thin to use in the slow cooker. Unfortunately, I'd already mixed the sofrito and vegetables together. What to do? Thaw the pork chops and hope for inspiration to strike while I was at work.

Saturday Pork Chops

Well, I don't know how "inspired" supper turned out to be, but it tasted pretty good.

I coated the pork chops quite thickly coated with the sauce and baked them, uncovered, at 350° for 25 minutes. Served them with a box of low-sodium Spanish rice and chopped cucumbers and tomatoes tossed with light Italian vinaigrette.

26 October 2011

A Little Cookery

Last weekend, we went to the last Hill-Stead's Farmers Market of the season. This was our first year attending the market, but we'll definitely be back next year as it's a really nice market with lots of goods noms and is quite close to home, too. Anyway, on our last trip, we bought lots of local apples and pears, goat's milk yoghurt, turnip greens, and a rather yummy-looking frozen shepherd's pie.

The pie we ate Sunday night with buttery, garlicky green beans and braised cabbage.

The frozen pie did not come with reheating instructions (and I didn't think to ask when I bought it), but I found baking it, covered, for 30 minutes at 400°F and then uncovering it and baking it for another 30 minutes worked fine. I sprinkled the pie with a Penzey's Hungarian Smoked paprika before shoving it in the oven and it gave the pie some nice color.

The pie came from Sankow's Beaver Brook Farm in Lyme -- we've bought yummy yoghurt and frozen lamb bolognese sauce from them in the past so I had no qualms about purchasing a pie. My only regret is that I did not purchase two -- one for Sunday and one as an emergency "forgot to plan" supper.

Sunday Shepherd's Pie

To make the buttery, garlicky green beans, I just microwaved fresh green beans and peeled cloves of garlic until the beans were tender. Then I mashed the garlic into bits and tossed the beans and garlic with unsalted butter. Seasoned them with fresh ground black pepper and salt and that was that. Green deliciousness.

The cabbage was a first attempt and tasted okay, but needs tweaking. I took two small green and red cabbages from my garden and chopped them into small pieces. I cooked the cabbage and a chopped red onion in a hot pan with unsalted butter and olive oil until the onion was translucent, then I poured in some low-sodium chicken broth, covered the pan, and let it simmer for about twenty minutes. I gave the cabbage a good stir, seasoned it with salt, pepper, red pepper flakes, and parsley.

24 October 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 24 October

There's too much food in my house. Cupboards, refrigerator, freezer -- all overflowing. It's embarrassing. I live in a city where many of the people I deal with on a daily basis are clearly struggling with food insecurity -- lack of access to enough food to fully meet basic needs at all times -- and here I am with too much food.

So. Obviously, I need to have a personal pantry/fridge/freezer challenge. And stop buying stuff because it's on sale. And fill a couple bags with food for my city's annual letter carriers' food drive next month.

Reheated ready-to-eat barbecued ribs (freezer) with Betty Crocker's "Chipotle Ranch" Suddenly Salad (pantry) tarted up with cilantro and extra peppers.

Monday Convenience

Random frozen Healthy Choice entree (freezer) with farmer's market Mutsu apple and low fat Greek yoghurt.

Baked salmon with parsleyed rice (pantry) and dilly carrots (fridge). Peel a whiskery carrot and no-one knows how old it is. It's dermabrasion for root vegetables.

Random frozen Healthy Choice entree (freezer) with farmer's market Bartlett pears and low fat Greek yoghurt.

Peppery pork tenderloin (freezer) roasted with peppers (fridge) and onions and served with buttery egg noodles. Slice veggies v. thin, toss with olive oil and seasoning blend and roast in same pan as pork for same temp and time.

Slow cooker shepherd's pie adapted from 101 Things to do with a Slow Cooker. Ingredients: lean ground turkey, thawed frozen mixed vegetables, crushed dehydrated onion slices, parsley, basil, low-sodium condensed tomato soup, instant mashed potatoes, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar (any excuse to shred cheese with my food processor). Uses a whole bunch of stuff that been lurking around -- getting perilously close to freezer burn or a "use by" date.

Cheese and potato pirogi (freezer) boiled & then sauteed in butter and olive oil with chopped onions until delicious golden brown. Serve with pickled red cabbage (pantry) and peas (freezer).

20 October 2011

Spicy Slow Cooked Pork Tenderloin

I'd had Prevention's recipe for Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin With Tomatillo Salsa bookmarked for months now and kept meaning to make it, but other more basic tomatillo recipes kept getting in the way. The recipe is a little fiddly for a slow cooker recipe -- the tomatillo sauce and pork rub are made from scratch and I am supposed to sear the tenderloin before plonking it in the slow cooker?! Pre-cooking? As if I would ever be so motivated at seven in the morning on a workday!

Spicy Pork Tenderloin, Ingredients

As I planned on serving the pork tenderloin for Tuesday's supper, I prepped as much as I could Monday night. While I broiled the tomatillos and serranos for the tomatillo sauce, I also minced the onion and garlic and blended the spice rub. Then I seeded the serranos (heat's in the seeds, they say) and pureed them with the tomatillos and dried cilantro.

Tuesday morning, I rubbed the pork with the spice blend and plopped it (unseared) in the slow cooker. Poured onions, garlic, some leftover Mexicorn, and sauce over the top, set the slow cooker for 8 hours on low and went to work -- I omitted the chicken stock as the sauce seemed like it was more than enough liquid. At 4:30, an hour before I arrived home, The Husband got the rice cooker going and, by 5:45 we were sitting down to supper.

Supper by Appliance

I thought the tenderloin was delicious -- tangy, spicy, and so tender -- but The Husband thought it was much too hot and has refused to eat any of the leftovers! Next time I make this, I will use only one serrano pepper in the sauce and omit the cayenne pepper from the rub.

Spicy Pork Tenderloin

18 October 2011

Leftover Chicken? Easy Enchiladas!

I tend to make enchiladas when I have too much leftover turkey or chicken as it's a quick and easy (and tasty!) way to get supper on the table while using up leftovers I'm getting tired of seeing. I first made this version in 2007, but have made it many times now. It's a very rudimentary recipe and open to substitutions based on whatever I have on hand.

Enchilada Filling Ingredients

Preheat oven to 375°F. Warm three ounces light cream cheese until softened. Combine with two cups chopped cooked chicken, half a cup of spicy salsa, half a cup of shredded reduced fat cheese, and a handful of dried cilantro.

Enchiladas Read for the Oven

Spoon a third of a cup of the mixture onto a warmed tortilla, roll up, and place in a baker. Repeat three more times. Top with additional salsa and shredded cheese. Cover and bake 15 minutes. Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.

Brown & Crispy Enchiladas

When I made Monday's enchiladas, I used Bald Mountain Garlic Farm's hot and smokey "Roasted Garlic and Chipotle Salsa" I'd purchased at the Connecticut Garlic Festival and it definitely kicked these enchiladas up a notch! I really wish I'd bought more than one jar.

17 October 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 17 October

Nothing very fancy or complicated this week as my work schedule is all topsy-turvy and I know I won't come home with the energy to cook anything fiddly.

Enchiladas from leftover chicken with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes in light Italian. Ingredients: leftover roast chicken, garlicky salsa, light cream cheese, shredded Cabot 50% reduced-fat cheddar, Penzeys "Bold" taco seasoning blend, cilantro.

Prevention magazine's "Slow Cooker Pork Tenderloin with Tomatillo Salsa" over cilantro rice with carrots. Ingredients: pork tenderloin (from freezer), garden tomatillos, serrano peppers, cilantro, cumin, oregano, cayenne, onion, garlic, low sodium chicken broth, fat free Greek yoghurt, tortillas. (Making the tomatillo salsa the night before).

Random Healthy Choice Lunch Steamer with dried apricots and low-sodium multigrain pretzels.

Another random Healthy Choice Lunch Steamer with low fat Greek yoghurt.

Baked fish with buttery parsleyed potatoes and green beans. What kind of fish? Whatever kind falls out when I open the freezer door! (Salmon, catfish, or tilapia).

Boneless skinless chicken thighs slow cooked with a jar of sofrito, chopped red onion, minced garlic, and thinly sliced bell pepper. Served over parsleyed rice with "Mexican" corn.

Baked peppercorn-crusted pork tenderloin with buttery carrots and garlicky mashed potatoes. (Pork tenderloin, again? What can I say? My freezer is full of pork tenderloins and they cook up in a jiffy!)

10 October 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 10 October

Very simple, no recipe Menu Plan for this week. I have a ton of library cookbooks on hand and they're all full of tempting recipes, but the truth is that I would much rather pay someone to make the recipes for me than I would like to make them for myself right now!

Holiday. Grab something while running errands/shopping.

Kale and sweet potato soup from Whole Foods with pretzel crisps and grapes.

Steamed tomato-basil-garlic tilapia with parsley rice and summer squash with cherry tomatoes.

Random Healthy Choice Lunch Steamer with a couple twee Seckel pears.

Roast chicken with garlicky roasted potatoes and steamed green beans.

Enchiladas from leftover chicken with chopped cucumbers and tomatoes tossed in a light vinaigrette.

09 October 2011

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas Verde

When the world gives you too much turkey and you're sandwiched and souped out, make ... enchiladas verdes! This recipe is cobbled together from refrigerator and pantry staples so it is not very elegant, but it tastes good and goes together quickly. Can be made ahead, if you're organized.

Turkey Enchiladas Verde

Leftover Turkey Enchiladas Verde

1 cup light sour cream
1 jar salsa verde
1 small red onion, finely chopped
3 cloves garlic, pressed
3 cups shredded leftover turkey
8 oz shredded Cabot Seriously Sharp cheddar
8 small flour tortillas
Sriracha, to taste

Preheat oven to 375°F. Combine sour cream, onion, garlic, turkey, and half the salsa verde and cheese in a large bowl. Season with a generous squeeze of sriracha (ymmv).

Spoon some of the mixture into a tortilla, roll up, and place seam-side down in a baker. Repeat until you run out of tortillas. If you have any remaining filling, spread it around top of tortillas. Top with remaining salsa verde and cheese. Bake for about 30 minutes, uncovered, or until edges of tortillas turn golden and cheese is bubbly.

04 October 2011

Tomatillo Pork & Cumin Corn

My tomato plants might have given up the ghost, but my tomatillo plants are still going strong! Last week, I made Oxmoor House's "Green Salsa Chicken" (using boneless pork loin chops instead of chicken) for supper one night with "Cumin Corn" and green beans. Both recipes were very easy to cook and tasted quite delicious -- the green salsa pork was tremendously flavorful and tender and the corn was a nice change.

Wednesday Night Noms

Ingredients: purple tomatillos, cilantro, lime, boneless pork loin chops, corn, cumin, prechopped tricolor bell pepper mix, red onion, butter.

To save time, both the salsa and the corn could be prepared in advance. The corn would need to be reheated, of course, but that would do it any harm. The salsa, I think, would be equally good on grilled tuna or halibut.

(The green beans were just steam-in-bag beans tossed with pressed garlic, butter, and diced roasted red peppers).

02 October 2011

County fair, county fair / Everybody in town'll be there

We spent the afternoon at the Harwinton Fair which is, I am ashamed to admit, the first fair we've made it to in 2011. We had a lot of fun eating delicious fair food, admiring the animals, and acquiring pickles.

Swing, Swang, Swung

We shared clam chowder in a bread bowl, Philly style cheesesteak, buttery grilled corn on the cob, foot long hot dog, soft-serve strawberry sundae, and tempora-fried cheesecake. Oh, the cheesecake! So unbelievably delicious! (Admittedly, I've yet to meet a fried cheesecake I didn't like!)

Deep-Fried Cheesecake

There was lots of livestock, of course, and we admired the bunnies, poultry, coos, and draft horses. Draft horses were big, bunnies were unbelievably squee, and coos ... they looked at me with their big brown eyes and I felt just wee bit guilty for eating their relatives.

Cow 290

Strangely, I didn't feel guilty admiring the prize winning cabbages.

Prize-Winning Cabbage

It was a fine day for a fair, but by the time we returned home the weather had taken a turn and we were content to hunker down in the living room and warm ourselves with our laptops.

I still have lots of turkey left from Friday's roast, so I whipped up a batch of Frontier Soup's Colorado Campfire Soup for supper using, of course, turkey broth and leftover turkey meat. Very thick and rich with lots of carrots, peas, potatoes, peppers, and white beans, it is much more a stew than a soup and made a for a very comforting, warming Sunday supper.

Turkey Soup