28 November 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 28 November

I was all excited to plan Menu Plan Monday, Thanksgiving leftovers edition, because I expected to be buried in leftover turkey! We went to my parents's for Thanksgiving, but I roasted a small turkey for our own Thanksgiving II on Sunday with the intention we would then eat repurposed turkey for most of the week ... except it's only Monday night and it's already clear the turkey won't stretch past Wednesday lunch. Darn. Should have roasted a bigger turkey!

"Chicken Enchiladas with Salsa Cream Sauce" from Maryana Vollstedt The Big Book of Casseroles (one of my favorite cookbooks) with greens (me) and corn (The Husband). Ingredients: unsalted butter, white whole wheat flour, turkey broth, light sour cream, Green Mountain Gringo roasted garlic salsa, corn tortillas, cubed leftover turkey, green onions, Muir Glen organic diced tomatoes, reduced fat Mexican cheese blend.

Leftover enchiladas with satsuma mandarins.

Grilled chicken sandwich with melon wedges à la Red Robin.

Vegetable stir-fry with satsuma mandarins and 0% Greek yoghurt.

Peppercorn pork tenderloin with parsleyed rice and peas.

Leftover pork tenderloin stir-fried with straw mushrooms, baby corn, carrots, celery, onion, etc and served over rice.

27 November 2011

Thanksgiving II

While we spent Thanksgiving with my parents and it was delicious, I missed having a turkey of my own! So, on Sunday, I roasted a 12-pounder and we had Thanksgiving II all on our own with mashed potatoes, leftover mashed rutabaga, parsley carrots, and gravy. It was delicious. As delicious as my mom's? Well ... that's not a fair comparison!

Thanksgiving II

I didn't do anything fancy to the turkey -- no brining, no basting, no butter-injection. I just rubbed the turkey with a little olive oil, sprinkled it generously with Penzeys salt-free "Sunny Spain" blend and popped it into a 325°F oven for about 3½ hours. My little hen came out perfectly moist and tender and full of rich turkey flavor.

Honestly, I could have skipped making the fixings -- we would have been just as happy with two knives and the turkey between us.

21 November 2011

No Menu Plan Monday

I was going to plan a menu for this week, but then I came to my senses and realized any menu plan I post this week would be an out-and-out lie unless it says something like:
  • Monday we will eat something
  • Tuesday I will bring something to work
  • Wednesday we will eat something between baking Thanksgiving pies
  • Thursday we will feast at my parents's
  • Friday we will eat a little something
  • Saturday I will come home from work too tired to make something and we will order in
  • Sunday we will eat roast turkey, if I remember to thaw the one in our freezer, for Thanksgiving II
And, lo, it is Monday and we did eat something!

Monday is Taco Night

Organic beef tacos topped with Green Mountain Gringo's roasted garlic salsa and leftover guacamole. Served with corn and Sylvia's (surprisingly good canned) turnip greens.

19 November 2011

A Mix A Week(ish): Barefoot Contessa Brownie Pudding Mix

Alright, so it's been over a month since my last Mix a Week post! No excuse for it, but I haven't bought any more mixes in the interim so I'd say I'm still doing pretty well. I finally decided to get back on track by making up a box of Barefoot Contessa's "Brownie Pudding Mix" that I picked up, ohhhh, last year at one of Stonewall Kitchen's clearance sales.

This mix was extremely simple to prepare and assemble -- all I needed, besides the mix, was two sticks of butter and four eggs. Everything comes together in under ten minutes and bakes for an hour. The cake is ready to eat as soon as it comes out of the oven, which is awesome for us impatient type -- no standing around the kitchen, staring at a cooling cake, and wondering just how soon we can nom it.

Woo-hoo, water bath!
Baked in a bain-marie! I feel sophisticated!

Chocolate Pudding Cake
Ooey-gooey chocolate decadence.

Chocolate Pudding Cake

And pretty tasty, too -- crusty on the top with a soft, sweet center -- but it still can't hold a candle to King Arthur Flour's lava cakes which have a richer, deeper flavor.

And, happily, I still have two boxes of King Arthur's mix in my pantry!

17 November 2011

Deliciously Simple Sweet Potatoes

We had supper at the Texas Roadhouse last weekend and I had a sweet potato with my delicious mooing steak, because I love sweet potatoes and just cannot get enough of them. However, it was a good thing I was paying attention when I ordered because I almost ended up with a sweet potato covered in caramel sauce, marshmallow, brown sugar, and butter!

What the flippin' fish sticks?! Isn't a sweet potato pretty much delicious vegetable candy to begin with? Why tart it up with marshmallow, caramel, and brown sugar? That is just wrong.

Now, if you really need to tart up a sweet potato, why not try Barbara Kafka's recipe for "Maple-Glazed Roasted Sweet Potatoes" from Vegetable Love (Artisan, 2005)? A little butter and maple syrup (use the real kind, mind you) enhance rather than overwhelm the sweet potato, creating a side dish which I'd be just as happy eating as a main.

But, then, I'm pretty sure I could happily survive the winter on nothing but roasted root vegetables and greens. And Greek yoghurt.

To make Kafka's dish, cut up peeled sweet potatoes, toss with melted unsalted butter, and roast in preheated 500°F oven for 15 minutes, then toss with maple syrup and roast until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife (about 5 minutes in my oven). Season with salt and pepper, as desired.

Sweet Potatoes, Chopped
This is may not be the shape Kafka had in mind, but I was a little confused.

Maple-Glazed Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Delicious, simple, and much better for you.

16 November 2011

Easy Autumnal Bundt

Tuesday was National Bundt Day and, to celebrate, I made an apple-walnut bundt using About.com's recipe for "Apple Cake." I substituted King Arthur 100% Organic White Whole Wheat Flour for half the all-purpose and added in a ¼ teaspoon each of ground allspice, mace, cinnamon, and ginger, but otherwise followed the recipe as written.

This bundt bakes at 325°F for 90 minutes and I was worried that it wouldn't bake through at such a low temperature, but the cake tester came out clean at the 90-minute mark and the cake certainly looked done. I let it sit in the bundt pan for about 10 minutes, then slid it out and let it cool on a rack for an hour.

Apple-Walnut Bundt

When I bring a cake to work, I usually slice it and arrange it on a platter as unsliced cake will just sit, untouched for hours, on the staff table while sliced cake immediately disappears in an explosion of crumbs and discarded napkins. I presume it's a psychological thing -- no-one wants to cut their own slice lest they be declared greedy guts by their coworkers, but if the cake is already in slices, then it's not their fault?


15 November 2011

Deliciously Simple Curried Cabbage

Sunday, I had half a cabbage and a mostly empty container of fat-free Greek yoghurt in the fridge. I thought about cooking the cabbage with chopped onions in a little chicken broth until tender, then combining them with the yoghurt dregs, paprika, salt and pepper and calling it "Hungarianesque Cabbage," but then I saw Barbara Kafka's recipe for "Curried Cabbage" in Vegetable Love and thought better of it.

Curried Cabbage, Ingredients

This was a very simple recipe -- bloom curry powder in hot oil until it is fragrant, stir in one thinly sliced onion and cook until translucent, add a thinly sliced cabbage and cook until wilted, then remove the pot from heat and stir in lemon juice and yoghurt.

Curried Cabbage, Cooked

Delicious and easy!

14 November 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 14 November

I cooked up a big batch of vegetables -- cabbage, sweet potatoes, chard, and kale -- over the weekend to eat at work all week and was so busy with that, that I didn't give much thought to what we would eat the rest of the week. Happily, our freezer is full of food so menu planning turned out to just be a matter of mixing and matching.

Salsa backed chicken thighs with diced avocado, vegetarian refried black beans, and garlicky green beans. Ingredients: skinned bone-in chicken thighs, Penzeys Bold Taco Seasoning, Green Mountain Gringo Roasted Garlic Salsa.

Monday Supper in a Pinch

Maple-glazed roasted sweet potatoes with curried cabbage, fat-free Greek yoghurt, and a pear.

Baked peppercorn-crusted pork tenderloin with parsleyed rice, buttery carrots, and garlicky chard.

Maple-glazed roasted sweet potatoes with braised kale, fat-free Greek yoghurt, and homemade applesauce.

Chicken stir-fry over rice. Ingredients: diced boneless chicken breasts, baby corn, straw mushrooms, celery, carrots, onion, low-sodium chicken broth, stir-fry packet.

Mexican delivery.

Southern Living's slow cooker "Braised Chicken Thighs With Carrots and Potatoes." Ingredients: onion, potatoes, carrots, low-sodium chicken broth, white wine, garlic, thyme, paprika, skinned bone-in chicken thighs.

13 November 2011

Yummy Vegetables for Work

I had a bunch of vegetables that needed eating up, but I wasn't sure what to do with them so I turned to Barbara Kafka's Vegetable Love (Artisan, 2005) for inspiration and found many good recipes. I've borrowed Vegetable Love from my library so many times that I don't know why I haven't bought my own copy yet!

Thanks to Vegetable Love, I made some really great, easy dishes this weekend using Swiss Chard, kale, cabbage, and sweet potatoes. Making all four dishes took about three hours altogether and yielded enough food to keep me feed at work all week.

Vegetable Love

I made:
  • Maple-Glazed Roasted Sweet Potatoes
  • Curried Cabbage
  • Braised Kale
  • Braised Chard
I liberally sampled these dishes as I cooked them and they tasted so good that I almost looking forward to going back to work tomorrow!

08 November 2011

Sunday is for Soup

Woke up Sunday morning in the mood to make soup. Rummaged around in the kitchen and found celery, carrots, onion, cabbage, barley, beans, and chicken broth. Knew I had the makings of a hearty vegetable soup ...

Soup Ingredients

Easy Barley Vegetable Soup

5 cups thinly sliced chopped green cabbage
2 carrots, sliced
2 celery ribs, sliced
1 onion, chopped
2 cups frozen green beans
15½ oz can Great Northern beans, rinsed and drained
2 32 oz container low-sodium chicken broth
14 oz jar crushed tomatoes
2 tsp Penzeys salt-free Tuscan Sunset seasoning blend (or any salt-free Italian seasoning blend)

In a Dutch oven, saute onions and celery in a little olive oil until tender. Add all other ingredients (except barley) to French/Dutch oven. Bring to boil; reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes. Add barley to soup and cook for about 15 minutes more. Season with salt and pepper, as needed.
This recipe made a lot of soup -- at least ten cups -- and I expect to eat it all week. Yum!

07 November 2011

Menu Plan Monday, 7 November

We're having three kinds of soup this week, because I craved homemade soup the whole five days we were without power during The Great Snowtober and now, with power restored and our kitchen restocked, I am in a position to satisfy that craving in a big way. Besides, it is simply impossible to have too much soup!

Slow cooker vegetable beef soup with garlic toast. Ingredients: beef (from freezer), carrots, celery, onion, green beans, Muir Glen no-salt-added diced tomatoes, McCormick Slow Cookers Vegetable Beef Soup Seasoning sachet.

Vegetable barley soup with hummus and crackers. Ingredients: cabbage, carrots, celery, onion, green beans, cannellini beans, low-sodium chicken broth, crushed tomatoes, Penzeys salt-free Tuscan Sunset seasoning blend, quick-cooking barley.

Baked peppercorn-crusted pork tenderloin with green beans and parsleyed rice.

Repeat Tuesday.


Slow cooker chicken noodle soup with biscuits. Ingredients: chicken (from freezer), carrots, celery, onion, egg noodles, McCormick Slow Cookers Chicken Noodle Soup Seasoning sachet.

06 November 2011

Slow Cooker Shepherd's Pie

I like shepherd's pie a lot and I've made many variations of it over the years, but one of my favorite versions is one I adapted from a recipe in 101 Things to do With a Slow Cooker by Stephanie Ashcraft and Janet Eyring. It's not elegant or pretty (unphotographable, really), but it tastes good and takes no time to assemble.
Slow Cooker Shepherd's Pie

1 pound lean ground meat, browned
10¾ oz can condensed tomato soup
16 oz bag mixed vegetables, thawed and drained
2 tsp dehydrated minced garlic
2 tsp salt-free Italian seasoning blend
Dried parsley, as desired
23-24 oz container refrigerated mashed potatoes
½ cup grated parmigiano reggiano, if desired
Paprika, as desired

Grease slow cooker insert. Stir together meat, soup, vegetables, garlic, and seasoning blend. Pour into your slow cooker insert. Combine cheese, potatoes, and parsley. Spread over top. Sprinkle liberally with paprika. Cook on LOW for 5-6 hours. Leave on WARM until ready to serve.
I've left this pie on WARM for 2+ hours without it coming to any apparent harm.

I always cook the meat ahead of time -- often the night before -- and usually use lean ground turkey or bison which, I know, makes this a cottage pie rather than a shepherd's pie. But let's not be picky, eh? Let's just enjoy good noms.

05 November 2011

Apples in My Slow Cooker

A few weeks ago, I picked up a big bag of Mutsu (aka Crispin) apples at the last Hill-Stead Farmers Market. Mutsu apples are one of my favorite apples as they're good for both eating and cooking. Also, they're simply enormous and one apple goes a long way ... which is probably why I still have so many left! Or, had, as I made apple sauce earlier today using a combination of Mutsu and Gala apples.

Apples to Applesauce, Ingredients

I love making applesauce in my slow cooker. There are only four ingredients and the method is entirely foolproof!
Easy Slow Cooker Apple Sauce

9 apples, peeled, cored, and sliced
2 tsp grated ginger (or 2 frozen cubes)
1 tsp cinnamon
¼ cup water

Dump everything in the slow cooker; cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours. Stir until the biggest chunks break up. Eat.
I rather overfilled my slow cooker, but the lid still fit and I knew the apples would cook down a lot. (The instruction book says not to fill the slow cooker insert more than two-thirds full, but I regularly disregard this when making things like soups and sauces).

Apples to Applesauce, Chopped Apples

While this applesauce is good on its own cold, it's very nice warm with a splodge of whipped cream or poured over plain Greek yoghurt. Probably good over French vanilla ice cream, too ...

01 November 2011

Clean Out the Kitchen With Soup

Soup is one of the best ways to use up odds-and-ends I'm sick of seeing or are getting a bit manky or just too close to their use by date. Making this soup rid me of an open container of low-sodium chicken broth, a can of lower-sodium beef broth I bought who knows when, and a lonely can of turkey broth. It also allowed me to use up an ancient package of frozen ground turkey, a nearly-as-ancient package of frozen mixed vegetables, and the last two packages of ramen The Husband likes to buy, but doesn't eat so much.

Making Soup

Odds 'n Ends Soup

1 pound lean ground turkey
1 small onion, diced
2 celery ribs, diced
3 gloves garlic, smashed
6½ cups broth
14½ can Muir Glen organic fire-roasted adobo-seasoned petite diced tomatoes, undrained
16 oz package frozen mixed vegetables, not thawed
2 3.0 oz packages beef-flavored ramen noodles
Parsley, as desired

In French/Dutch oven or large whathaveyou, brown ground beef, onion, celery, and garlic over medium-high heat until thoroughly cooked. Add broth, tomatoes, vegetables, and seasoning packet from ramen package; mix well. Bring to a boil. Reduced to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Smash ramen noodles and add to soup. Stir in parsley, if desired. Simmer 5 minutes or until ramen is tender.
Left overnight, the ramen will soak up a lot of the broth so you may wish to pour in a little more broth when you reheat the soup. Or just recategorize it as stew.