Monday, June 21, 2010

Menu for the week of 20 June 2010

Well, here I am - a week before the big move.
I bought stuff this weekend, mostly because I'm torn between trying to empty my fridge/freezer and trying to serve nutritious meals. A few articles I discovered recently should help me get rid of a few things (like 10 Ways to Clean out Condiments and 10 Quick and Easy Stir Fry Dinners). It also helps explain the number of times I'm serving crudites & dip this week.

The excess of baking is mostly to try and remove a few things from my pantry (but also because I got fresh rhubarb this week). The tart recipes are really just Mark Bittman's recipe for berry pie, served in pre-cooked tart shells. It's a quick way to make a delicious desert.

Saturday, 19Dinner out with friends
Rhubarb crisp (make 6)
Sunday, 20Breakfast out.
BBQ hamburgers, all dressed.
Make blueberry tarts and make strawberry-rhubarb tarts
Chopped greek salad with chicken
Monday, 21Fruit, nuts, cottage cheese
Chicken salad sandwich with crudites & dip, yogurt, fruit
BBQ steak, baked potatoes & salad with crudites & dip, rhubarb crisp & ice cream
Bake empanadas (for lunches this week)
Tuesday, 22Fruit, nuts, cottage cheese
Empanadas, salsa & salad
BBQ fish, sticky rice with sauce, steamed vegetables, tart & ice cream
Wednesday, 23Fruit, nuts, cottage cheese
Chicken salad sandwich with crudites & dip, yogurt, fruit
Chicken fried rice with crudites & dip, Chocolate Cherry Brownies
Thursday, 24Fruit, nuts, cottage cheese
Empanadas, salsa & salad, yogurt, fruit
BBQ chicken skewers & green salad with crudites & dip, rhubarb crisp & ice cream
Friday, 25Leftover buffet

Monday, May 31, 2010

Menu for the week of 30 May 2010

Wow. It's been a while since I've posted my menu.
This week I'm expecting to do a lot of salads, as side dishes for BBQ meals, as lunches and possibly even as breakfasts! Welcome to summer.

Saturday 29

Roast chicken with hummus, fresh bread, & Salad
Sunday 30

BBQ Steak, baked potato/sweet potato, mixed green salad with spicy carrot and turnip salad
Monday 31

Lunch: Colorful black bean and crab salad.
Quesadillas with argulara and blue cheese salad.
Tuesday 1

Chopped Greek salad with chicken and feta
Wednesday 2

Grilled Salmon with lime butter and a mixed green salad
Thursday 3

BBQ Hamburgers & Salad Plate
Friday 4

Leftover buffet
Saturday 5

Shopping/Sale day

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Savory Breakfasts?

What do you get when you combine:
  • Leftover wild herb rice (mixed with rice wine vinegar & mirin).
  • leftover jalapeno honey mustard cut with mayonnaise & herbs.
  • A tin of tuna.
  • A tomato.
  • An avocado.
  • A stalk of asperagus (barbecued). Sheets of nori.
I don't know either; but I hope to try making sushi out of this mess for a savory breakfast. I'll let you know how it goes.

Update: It's pretty good. I didn't use the avocado (too far past its prime) or the tomato; and only about 3/4 of the rice and 1/2 of the tin of tuna. It's falling apart as I eat it, but it tastes pretty good. And it's certainly different which was, ultimately, what I wanted for breakfast.

Either my sushi-making skills have degraded (possibly) or the nori I bought was the wrong type (most likely). The sheets have holes in them, seem way too thin, and in this case - were too old (liquid was accumulating in the sealed package in spite of the silica packet). So I should (a) buy new nori and (b) practice more. :)

Monday, May 24, 2010

Holiday Monday

Cooking shouldn't be hard. Motivation to get started may be lacking (especially when the TV is playing all manner of movies all day long), but cooking should be easy and recipes adaptable.

My recipe for tacos is pretty simple; but best of all -- it's versatile.
Tonight, intending to make enough for lunches, I thought I'd make a batch of beef tacos and a batch of refried been and tomato tacos.

The former is simple: dice your vegetables. Add a drizzle of oil to a hot pan and throw in your spices. Once they become fragrant, add your vegetables. When they're cooked, remove them from the heat and cook the beef in the same pan. Drain well. Then - add everything back into the pot. When it's good and hot; remove the mixture and set aside. Add about a cup of beef broth and scrape the pan well. When the mixture is reduced by 1/2, add a pat of butter. If you want it thicker -- add about 1/2 a cup of beans and mash them well. Add everything back in and reheat.

For the bean version - just replace the meat with the beans and add a diced tomato (juice and all). Use the pan gravy from the beef mixture (or start over with vegetable stock) and remember to mash the beans well.

Either wrap it in a tortilla or sever it over salad. I like to top it with sour cream and cheese, but anything goes.

It's too hot to make mexican rice; but I am going to make a lentil, hazelnut and cheese salad for tomorrow's lunch. That, combined with the re-fried beans and some lettuce will make for a filling meal.

Update: The lentil, hazelnut and cheese salad was amazing; I'm definitely going to have it again. The vegetarian version of the tacos needed to be reheated--which I didn't want to do. I'll save the filling for either making chili or a rainy day. Dinner last night (the meat version of the tacos) was really good - but needed more kick than the poblano peppers provided. Fortunately we had salsa on hand to deal with the problem.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Menu for the week of April 18-24, 2010

Here's my plan for the week.
The Cobble Hill Roast Striped Bass recipe has been on the menu plan for a while--and I intend to actually make it this week. Cooking a whole fish (even with the head already removed) is something I've only done a few times. I love the taste, but it does take some practice to deal with the bones.

The best and simplest green salad, Shepherd's Pie (Cottage Pie)
Cornbread, Chicken Tournados*, PC Orzo with Beans and goat cheese**
Leftover Chili (add hamburger) Serve with leftover cornbread
Cobble Hill Roast Striped Bass, Steamed vegetables, Arroz mexicano
Whole Wheat Buttermilk Biscuits, Hamburger soup (Leftovers)
The best and simplest green salad, Blue Ribbon Chicken
Chicken Quesadillas

* Chicken breasts wrapped in bacon. Great for barbecuing. I get them from my butcher.
** More about PC Orzo with Beans and Goat Cheese can be found here.

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Menu for the week of April 3 - 9, 2010

I did an inventory of my pantry again this weekend. It's amazing how tiny bottles of sauces, condiments (OK, some not so tiny), oils and vinegars really start to pile up. I am officially out of red wine vinegar, and this week should run out of white wine and apple cider vinegar. If all goes well I'll even manage to polish off one (of the two) bottles of rice wine vinegar sitting in my pantry. :D

Vinaigrette recipes are simple (thus no links) 3 tablespoons good vinegar, 2 tablespoons good olive oil, a small sprinkling of herbs (preferably fresh) and a good shake of fresh cracked black pepper. I typically make just enough vinaigrette for the salad I'm serving (or enough in a very small container for lunch). I'm trying really hard not to buy any dressing, as it contains too many things that are not good for me. I should try making thousand island dressing myself sometime. There's lots of good recipes for it out there.

The best and simplest green salad is a Mark Bittman recipe (thus again, no link). Well, more a potential list of ingredients. For us, it means - romaine lettuce, baby spinach, a diced bell pepper and occasionally an ounce or two of cheese. Sometimes we add soy or other nuts, and additional greens (red or green radicchio, and other greens as they comes into season). In winter the salad is typically 1/2 iceberg and 1/2 romaine without the spinach and we add a few tablespoons of mixed tinned beans. Now that spring is here I can start buying spring mix and adding a handful of that to the salad to replace some of the romaine.

This week I picked up a small bag of broccoli slaw. I love it. So now I have another use for broccoli stems. The mix is about 3/4 finely julienned broccoli stems (peeled) and 1/4 carrot.

I cleaned the kitchen floor on the weekend (a task that was much-needed, and takes about 3 hours to do properly). The floor is very old, scratched, and covered in something that discolors quickly. The coating is slowly coming off - unevenly and thus makes even a clean floor rather gray in places. But, with that task out of the way I now have to sort through my under-cabinets. I should be getting boxes this week to label Recycle and Give Away. The process will be fairly painful but much-needed. I'll try to take pics.

Snacks this week are: apples (always) and quaker rice crisps (90 calorie pouches).

Breakfast: 1 feta omelet with whole wheat toast
Lunch: 2 chicken drumsticks, small side salad with homemade vinagrette
Dinner: East Side Mario's out with friends.
Breakfast: 1 hard boiled egg, 1 pc whole wheat toast, 1 apple
Lunch: Chicken pita wrap with broccoli slaw salad
Dinner: Steak sandwiches with cheese
The best and simplest green salad with homemade Cesar salad dressing
Breakfast: 1 goat-cheese omelet with whole wheat toast
Lunch: Pot noodle with homemade chicken stock & vegetables
Dinner: Arahova Souvlaki take-out (Gyro pitas!)
Breakfast: 1 apple, Oatmeal, 1/2 banana
Lunch: Chicken thighs in tomato sauce with rice & green beans
Dinner: Baked potatoes & salad with white wine vinaigrette
BBQ Chicken breasts in homemade barbecue sauce
Desert: Banana Bread
Breakfast: Toast & almond butter, 1 apple
Lunch: Chicken thighs in tomato sauce with rice & green beans
Dinner: Cornbread & Hamburger soup (leftovers)
Breakfast: Toasted cornbread & butter, 1 banana
Lunch: Chicken thighs in BBQ sauce, side salad with homemade vinagrette
Dinner: Soda biscuits & Two Bean Chili
Breakfast: Oatmeal & banana
Lunch: Chicken thighs in BBQ sauce, side salad with homemade vinagrette
Dinner: Buttered noodles & salad with apple cider vinagrette, Cobble Hill Roast Striped Bass

Friday, March 26, 2010

I love to barbecue .... but...

I love it when spring starts.

We fill the propane tank and start finding excuses to use the barbecue. Beyond the regular grilling of various meat products; we steam vegetables in foil-packets, and by summer I'm cooking with the cast-iron skillet on the barbecue just to be outside.

Last night, however - I wasn't so enthused with the barbecue.

I bought 24 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs from my butcher (La Preference) at a good price.

They marinated overnight in a delicious recipe of black bean paste, Thai chili paste, mirin, and olive oil.

And then I put them on the grill.
After a few minutes.
They exploded into flame!

A brave volunteer got them off the grill as quickly as he could without burning himself. The flames were incredible. All the fat and skin was seared, but the meat within was still raw. Wait a minute. ... fat and skin .... and the recipe calls for trimming and I didn't do it.

So I put as many as I could in pans and cooked them in a 350 degree oven for 20 minutes. The five that were still raw & un-singed (because I couldn't fit them on a grill) took 40 minutes to cook. I threw-out the worst 5 because they felt solid when I pressed on the upper part of the thigh (but still bled red).

My error (I realize now) was stretching the marinade with olive oil. I should have used stock or water instead. The poor bird parts were edible, but the flavour of the marinade was a soft under-note beneath all that smoky flavour.

The recipe is a good one, and one I intend to keep making - but maybe next time, I'll reduce the olive oil. Just a tad. And skin & trim the chicken.

I served it with a salad of mixed greens, a light cesar salad dressing, and baked new red potatoes. It was surprisingly well received and the butt of many jokes.

Barbeque chicken thighs in black bean sauce
Original recipe available on Kalyn's Kitchen blog.
Modified for the barbecue & to reduce salt and remove citrus from the recipe.

Serves:4 Doubles well, although you will run out of marinade.

12 bone-in chicken thighs

2 tablespoons Black Bean Garlic Sauce
1 teaspoon olive oil
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
1 teaspoon Thai Chili Garlic Paste
1 teaspoon mirin

  1. Use a sharp knife to remove skin and trim all visible fat from chicken thighs.
  2. Cut small slits lengthwise so the marinade will penetrate the meat.
  3. Mix marinade ingredients, then put chicken pieces in single layer inside large Ziploc bag, pour marinade in and let marinate for 6 hours or more in the refrigerator.
  4. When ready to cook, remove chicken from refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while the barbecue preheats.
  5. Arrange chicken on the upper grill, keeping as much marinade clinging to the chicken as you can.
  6. Roast about 40 minutes, turning several times and brushing with remaining marinade.
  7. Chicken is done when an instant-read thermometer shows the meat is 160 F.