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.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

I'm Watching Dinner confidential

So Fayfood, my favourite food blog, has branched out into a you tube channel called Dinner Confidential. The episodes are a bit slow in coming out - but feature two women (Fae and Kelly) who are currently helping a very busy family of four figure out how to get dinner on the table in a reasonable amount of time and maybe even eat together once a week.

Their previous story involved helping Kelly's daughter start cooking. I wish I could say the idea of someone who would not buy vegetables or roast something was new; but not everyone loves to cook and this episode (in several parts) they come up with a few different things for the daughter to try and are carefully non-judgmental about her choices. They want her to enjoy cooking, and not do it because it's a chore.

The episodes are short (well under 10 minutes on average) and pretty chatty. Neither Fae nor Kelly are afraid of giving opinions, but they're honest about it.

What I really enjoy is that this is a cooking-advice show that focuses on what's real. They're is no professional kitchen with perfect results every time. There's no immaculate set nor are the hosts immaculate in the way they present themselves. Instead you have two real people who care about what they're trying to do. They don't want the food to be fussy, or bothersome; instead they want it to be healthy, quick, and easy.

It's great lunchtime watching.

A recipe that was sort-of mentioned brought to mind something Fae suggested on her blog a while ago. It's a great and highly-scalable recipe that comes together in about 40 minutes without much tending.

Her version is here.

Serves: 6

12 sausages, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 tin cannellini beans, well rinsed
1 tin tomatoes, pureed
2 teaspoons olive oil, divided
1 teaspoon fresh thyme or sage
2 teaspoons oregano
1 clove of garlic, smashed and diced
1 onion, finely diced

  1. Sear off the sausages in a hot pan. Drain any excess oil.
  2. Add the garlic, onion, and sage. Stir to incorporate.
  3. Add a can of pureed tomatoes and deglaze the pan.
  4. When this has cooked for a good twenty minutes, add the beans, and other seasonings.
  5. Allow to boil down for another 20 minutes. Serve hot over bread, rice, or polenta.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Menu for the week of March 21, 2010

I planned this week pretty well. Sunday I made bread, roasted chicken, and... didn't quite getting around to cooking the baked beans. They were actually cooked on Monday. The bread mostly came out OK and set the tone for my week. It's been mostly OK.

The seasonal cold has retreated into the background, and my fridge now overfloweth with leftovers again and my freezer is full-to-bursting. Tuesday's dinner was technically unplanned (it would have been Easter Monday Ham & Cheese Bake, but I went for deli-bought fried chicken instead). I have a bad habit of going in and changing my weekly menu on Springpad about twice or three times before the week is out. Officially I never plan dinners on Friday or Saturday night.

Friday night is my night out - if I've not already ordered in or brought in take-out during the week. Saturday I shop, so dinner is as much determined by what's on sale that day as by what's available in my fridge/freezer/pantry.

I do inventory on Wednesday, write my menu on Thursday, visit the butcher/deli on Friday and the bulk store/vegetables/everything else on Saturday. Then I tweak the menu again on Saturday to better match what I have/have bought.

Toast & almond butter
Keller's Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables
Vegetarian Baked Beans
Hony Oatmeal Bread

Breakfast toast & Almond butter
Leftover Keller's Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables
Spice-rubbed BBQ Flank Steak and Cesar mixed-leaf salad

Breakfast egg sandwich with cheese
Leftover Black beans & rice with Baked beans
Fried chicken, sweet-potato fries & leftover Cesar mixed-leaf salad

Breakfast oatmeal
Leftover Keller's Roast Chicken with Winter Vegetables
Lemon-pepper white fish & risotto

Breakfast musli
Leftover Black beans & rice with Baked beans
Roasted Chicken Thighs with Black Bean Garlic Marinade with Mixed-leaf salad and vinagrette dressing for 6.

Toast & almond butter
Leftover Baked Beans, rice & Steamed Vegetables
Hosin chicken rice bowls

Breakfast egg sandwich
Lunch roast chicken, fresh bread and salad
Dinner: TBD!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Black beans and rice - to nice to be mild

Some nights, I just want something hot and filling for dinner; and I don't really seem to care what that contains. There's a specific texture I'm looking for--silken without sauce--that always comes to mind when I think of rice and beans. I think it's a perfect dinner for any night. My SO thinks its bland. We live in two different worlds of taste. He's a fire-eater and I, alas, am not.

So this is my non-fire-eating version, which he thinks is just OK. More for me!

I like making beans from scratch, but in the spring--when the beans take 2+ hours to cook, being that they are so very old, I use canned. I drained 1 can of black beans and 1 can of navy beans and rinsed the beans well. This gets rid of a lot of salt, and I've always found the thick bean liquid in cans rather disgusting.

Once well-drained, I carefully diced up a yellow onion, red bell pepper, chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, two-ounces of medium chorizo, and 4 garlic cloves. I warmed olive oil in a pan, then added the onions and bell peppers, stirring occasionally until the onions wilted.

Then I added the rest of the vegetables. I cooked the rice separately (in water). When it was done, I added the beans and rice to the pan along with 2 cups of home-made chicken broth. This replaces the bean cooking liquid required by the original recipe and adds a lot of flavour.

Stir well to incorporate, add the spices, and allow to simmer. The cooked rice will absorb a lot of the liquid. If it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and uncover to allow the steam to escape. Serve it hot topped with cilantro and lime.

1 cup dried black beans (3 cups cooked)
1 two-ounce link chorizo, diced
1 onion, coarsely chopped
1 red bell pepper, coarseley chopped
1 chipotle pepper in adobe sauce, diced
4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon cumin
1 cup white rice
1/4 cup chopped cilantro leaves
1 lime, juiced

1. Bring 1 1/2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon salt to a boil; add the rice, reduce heat to low, and cook, covered, for 15 minutes. Remove from heat and let stand for 5 minutes more. Fluff with a fork and then spoon some rice into each bowl.

2. Drain the beans. Dice the onion, pepper, and garlic. Heat the oil over medium-high in a large sauce pan, and add the minced vegetables, chorizo, and cumin. Cook, stirring often, until the vegetables soften somewhat, about 5 minutes. Add the drained beans, cilantro, cooked rice, and 2 cups of broth. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer and cook off any extra liquid.

3. Remove the beans from the heat and stir in the lime juice and top with cilantro. Serve hot.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Menu plan for the week of March 14, 2010

Menu Plan MondayWhat a week! The weather has become warm and spring-like and the colds are finally lifting from my house. There's lots to do this week that didn't get done last week (being sick is not condusive to doing chores); and the week is perfect for baking (not too warm and not too cold), so I'm going to make cookies this week and try to squeeze some bread-making in on the weekend.

Typically I have less than a serving left over after dinner. So, I just dump them in a container and put it in the freezer. Most lunches are the contents of one or two containers combined. I realized earlier, while talking to a co-worker - if I actually layered my leftovers rather than just dumping them in a single container - I could call my leftover lunches a "bento" again. They'd probably be a lot more appetizing to look at too.

Not many links this week, as most of the recipes are pretty straight forward.

snacks: I have a lot of choices for snacks this week as we did a run to the local Cosco recently.
taco chips (remainders from a party on the weekend)
mixed veggies & dip (leftovers from a party platter on the weekend)
pita chips & hummus (neither of which is homemade)
yogurt & flax seed
apples (always)
granola bars
rice crisps

The menu:

Toast & almond butter
Crab pasta salad
Leftover Lentil and sausage soup
Breakfast oatmeal
Leftover chili, spaghetti & salad
BBQ hamburgers with The best and simplest green salad by Mark Bittman topped with Red wine and feta vinaigrette
Breakfast musli
Taco salad Leftovers
Steamed vegetables with Black Beans and Rice, My Way
Breakfast oatmeal
Chicken salad sandwich and soup
The best and simplest green salad with red wine vinagrette
BBQ New York Strip steak & Mashed Potatoes Gratin
The Whole Wheat Tollhouse Cookies
Breakfast musli
Lunch Bento
Chinese Buffet - for 4
Toast & almond butter
Lunch Bento
Shawarma sandwich with rice & salad - for 6
Breakfast egg sandwich
Lunch roast chicken, fresh bread and salad
Dinner: TBD
Event: Draconis Game Day

Friday, February 26, 2010

Beef Stroganoff - my way

The morning after report.

The beef was still pretty frozen when I took it out to cook. I love my new fridge, but it's sometimes a bit too good at keeping cold things cold. The ice crystals made the beef very easy to slice. I cut the strips in half (it was a wide piece of meat), but that was just a stylistic preference.

The meat cooked easily and I got a nice brown coating on the bottom of my pan. I'm getting better at being able to watch a pan and not fuss with it. If the meat doesn't lay long enough before you try to flip it -- it will either stick and tear (leaving little meaty bits behind) or not deposit the brown bits on the bottom of the pan.

Once cooked, and set aside, I added 2 whole shallots (for some reason, I read the recipe as requiring 1 cup not 1/2 cup -- sigh) and 8 oz of sliced button mushrooms (I halved the slices because the SO doesn't like mushrooms--so small=good). I turned down the heat and let it cook, stirring occasionally and trying really hard not to scrape up too much of the brown bits. The mushroom stems went into my collection of food scraps for soup. The SO tends to notice the stems way more than the tops, so I don't often cook with them.

The chicken broth (I prefer the flavour of chicken broth to beef broth--and I had fresh homemade chicken broth in the fridge as compared to the box of stuff in the pantry) went in with the tomato paste and Worcestershire sauce. And then I stirred. My arms got a workout from the stirring. I scraped every bit of brown stuff up off the bottom and into the broth. Then I added the meat back into the pan (flank steak is pretty tough and the extra cooking time helped tenderize it a bit).

I set the noodles to boil, and ignored the sauce as it reduced (I did up the heat just a smidge under the sauce--because I'm impatient when my kitchen starts to become so wonderfully fragrant).

As the noodles were done, and the (nuked frozen) vegetables were ready I made the realization that I was out of sour cream. So I used unflavoured yogurt. Unfortunately, I didn't strain it. It had been sitting for a while, so I poured off the liquid and scooped from what was left -- but once added to the sauce, it separated rather than becoming creamy. I put the meat back into the pan and stirred it all together. The sauce wasn't a pale brown or a pink, instead it was brown with a multitude of white pokadots!

I served the mix (and the rather thin sauce) over egg noodles with a side of green beans for me and corn for him. It tasted delicious, but it didn't look too good.

Now I know better. This morning I googled "sour cream substitution" and realize that I should have (a) drained the yogurt for at least 30 minutes, (b) added 1 tablespoon flour and 2 teaspoons water to the mix before adding. This replaces some of the strained-out liquid without adding an acid, and the flour provides the thickening-agent that the fat (in the sour cream) would provide.

The recipe came out really well. We both liked it, and since I had friends cancel out on me (I had intended to double the recipe), I made 1/2, have leftovers for lunch today and have enough ingredients to make it again next week. It's a win-win situation.

The recipe
  • 1 lb steak (top round or flank), cut into strips
  • 1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 1 tbsp non-hydrogenated margarine
  • 1/2 cup shallots, chopped
  • 8 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup chicken broth (low fat, low sodium)
  • 1 tbsp tomato paste
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 tsp dried mustard
  • 4 servings of egg noodles.
  • 3/4 cup unflavoured yogurt (strained for 30 minutes)
  • 1 tsp flour
  • 2 tsp water
  1. Measure out 1 cup of yogurt and place it in a fine sieve or piece of cheese cloth suspended above a bowl. Leave to drain for 30 minutes.
  2. Cut the steak to the desired size and lay out the pieces.
  3. Sprinkle steak strips with salt and pepper.
  4. Dice your shallots and cut up your mushrooms.
  5. In large non-stick frying pan, heat oil over high heat.
  6. Add meat in single layer (working in batches if necessary) and cook until just brown on outside, about 1 minute per side. Reduce heat if the pan begins to smoke or if meat gets more than a bit brown. You're building a layer of brown on your pan here -- so patience is the rule.
  7. Remove meat to plate and set aside.
  8. In same frying pan, melt margarine over medium-high heat.
  9. Add shallots and cook until starting to soften, about 2 minutes.
  10. Add mushrooms and cook until tender and all liquid is evaporated, 8-10 minutes.
  11. Put a pan on to start cooking the egg noodles. Bring the water to a roiling boil.
  12. In a small bowl, whisk together broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, and mustard.
  13. Return steak to pan and pour broth mixture over.
  14. Scrape the bottom of the pan to get all the brown bits up into the liquid.
  15. Simmer until liquid reduces and thickens slightly, about 12 minutes.
  16. Cook the egg noodles (ideally they're done the same time as your stroganoff. Your stroganoff can wait, the egg noodles can't).
  17. Prepare your steamed vegetables.
  18. Mix the flour and water together to form a slurry. No lumps. Add it to the strained yogurt.
  19. Add the yogurt mixture to the pan (stir to incorporate) and cook on low heat until heated through.
  20. Serve over freshly-cooked egg noodles with a side of steamed (nuked) vegetables.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Menu for the week of 21 Feburary

Belated posting.
I'm following my own advice from last week, buying only what I need and trying to use up what I have. The hardest part is actually sticking to the menu. I remembered to put it on my kitchen table, and that's helped. I also chose recipes that weren't supposed to be too fussy (see my notes to see how well that worked).

I've learned from practice, that since by Friday I'm just tired and uninspired that I'll either cook up with the leftovers in the fridge or eat out. It's pretty much whatever strikes my fancy.

Breakfast: Breakfast out.
Lunch: Chicken sandwich on whole wheat with hummus & salad
Dinner: Beef fajitas
Lunch: Grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup
Dinner: Quiznos
Breakfast: Cinnamon oatmeal
Lunch: Leftover meatballs, spaghetti sauce and basmati rice
Dinner: Salad-dressing marinaded and breaded (baked) chicken [Springpad link], green salad with red wine vinagrette
Breakfast: Cinnamon oatmeal
Lunch: Tortierre and green salad with red wine vinagrette
Dinner: Almond haddock fillets [Springpad link], green salad with red wine vinagrette and basmati rice.
Breakfast: Cinnamon oatmeal
Lunch: Empanadas and broccoli with salsa
Dinner: Hamburgers, all dressed.
Breakfast: Toast & banana with almond butter
Lunch: Tortierre and salad with red wine vinagrette
Dinner: Beef Strogonoff [Springpad link]
Breakfast: Toast & banana with almond butter
Lunch: Almond crusted fish with basmati rice and green beans
Dinner: Leftover buffet & Steamed vegetables

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Roasted chicken legs with black bean marinade

I actually remembered to marinade something last week (I feel so proud!). The marinade itself was a simple mix of black bean garlic sauce, olive oil, lime juice, and chili garlic paste. I was a bit worried that the lime juice might make the mix too acidic - the last think I wanted was to roast already-cooked chicken.

I've not been cooking of late. My choice in meals have had less to do with nutrition and more to do with quick, hot, and full of protein. I have been trying to reduce the amount I buy - and use up what I do. Black bean garlic sauce is a truly amazing flavour, but there are very few recipes that use it.

I skinned the chicken legs (ew!) and then coated them with the marinade. I wrapped them up and put them in the fridge overnight. I've made this recipe before, but never with so long a marinading time. The extra time in the freezer was worth the wait.

By the next morning my fridge smelled pretty garlic-y, and by evening it was time to get roasting.

I roasted the chicken at 375 F for 50 minutes, turning the chicken once. I served it with some pre-bought risotto balls, spaghetti sauce, and salad. It was delicious.

Roasted chicken with black bean marinade
It's a great and tasty meal for a weeknight. The preparation can be done the night before, so all you have to do is come home and cook.

  • 12 bone-in chicken thighs or 6 legs with thighs
  • 2 tablespoons Black Bean Garlic Sauce
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon Thai Chili Garlic Paste, or to taste
  • 1 tablespoon fresh squeezed lime juice
  1. Remove the skin and trim all visible fat from the chicken.
  2. Mix marinade ingredients, then put the chicken pieces in a single layer inside a dish. Cover with marinade (on both sides) and let marinate for 6 hours or more in the refrigerator.
  3. When ready to cook, remove the chicken from the refrigerator and let it come to room temperature while the oven preheats to 325 F.
  4. Arrange the chicken on a roasting pan, keeping as much marinade clinging to the chicken as you can.
  5. Roast about 50 minutes, turning several times and baste often.
  6. When the chicken registers an internal temperature of at least 165 F, it is done.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Menu for February 7th and a change for the better

Friday night, coming back from work - and the car dies. Drama ensues, a good Samaritan with jumper cables are found -- but then the car starts. We heap praises on the Samaritan, and head directly home. No stopping at the butcher, the bulk store, or the box store. Straight. Home.

We count our pennies. We pinch our belts. And I do a quick inventory and menu based completely on what's in my pantry.

I make my menus on Thursday nights, and my planned menu used very little of any of what I actually had in my pantry. I was surprised at what I had in my pantry.
  • navy beans (dried and tinned),
  • split peas (about 1 cup),
  • a ton of popcorn (microwavable & kernels)
  • mixed beans (tinned),
  • corn meal,
  • lots of flour (whole wheat, barley, AP) and baking stuff (baking soda, baking powder, ...),
  • 6 tins of no-salt-added diced tomatoes,
  • lots of herbs (including fresh garlic & ginger, pesto, cilantro, and fresh parsley)
  • 2 L chicken broth,
  • 1 lb of hamburger,
  • a box of frozen appetizers,
  • a bag of shrimp with shells on (uncooked),
  • a bag of frozen cranberries,
  • a bag of frozen strawberries,
  • a tortierre and a bit,
  • some leftover Shepperd's pie
  • some leftover sausage,
  • some yogurt (flavoured & not),
  • 1 lb flank steak,
  • 1 box of mac and cheese,
  • lots of milk,
  • 1 box of tomato soup,
  • sandwich bread,
  • eggs,
  • bacon,
  • rice,
  • frozen vegetables (broccoli, beans, summer mix, endame, and corn).
So, what can you make with that handful of ingredients? Turns out, quite a lot actually. I didn't use it all this week, although I did put a serious dent in my pantry.

Breakfast: Spiced Cranberry (Overnight) Oatmeal [Spring pad link]
Lunch: Appetizers
Dinner: Beef empanadas with salsa & cheese [Spring pad link]
Desert: Rick Gallop's Banana bread

This was a day I went rummaging and digging stuff out of the corners of my kitchen. I have a tube of steel-cut oats, so I set those to bake overnight and stored what I didn't eat for lunches during the week.

The box of frozen appetizers has been in the freezer since before Christmas ('09). They made a tasty lunch. For the banana bread I ended up mixing white, whole wheat, barley flour and flax together; but you can't really tell in the finished product.

It seems I made a double batch of empanadas, enough to store the dough and mix and have it again later in the week. I baked them, but the original recipe also has instructions for frying.
Breakfast: Spiced Cranberry Oatmeal (leftovers from Sunday)
Lunch: Leftover tortierre & steamed vegetables
Dinner:Mac and Cheese (boxed) & best ever green salad [Spring pad link]

I went out and bought salad greens and 1/2 a dozen apples (lunches and snacks), and some cheese for tomorrow night. I finished off the flavoured yogurt in the fridge, and found a few forgotten containers of leftovers in the freezer that made good lunches.

Mac and cheese is one of those pantry staples I always have around. Normally it's used as the odd weekend (or day off) lunch; but paired with a salad with goat cheese & pistachios (leftovers from my last attempt at making pistachio ice cream) it made for a very filling meal.
Breakfast: Spiced Cranberry Oatmeal (leftovers from Sunday)
Lunch: Shrimp salad with olives and herb vinagrette dressing
Dinner: Grilled cheese & bacon sandwiches & Hearty Tomato Soup

The bag of shrimp were another frozen leftover. I cooked them the night before and garnished some leftover (and undressed) salad for lunch. The vinagrette is simple- olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a teaspoon (total) of oregano, pepper, and thyme. Store in a bottle. Shake before using.

Dinner was another lunch time favourite. The tomato soup came from a box, but it was a good box. :)
Breakfast: Spiced Cranberry Oatmeal (leftovers from Sunday)
Lunch: Leftover Sheppard's pie
Dinner: Fried chicken & french fries

The car was out of the shop, and we wanted to celebrate. I bought a bag of freezer fries, we picked up fried chicken at the grocery store and went home to have dinner. Total cost: 15.00. We also picked up some cold cuts, cheese, and a box of smoked meat (adding another 15.00 to the bill). The former for lunches fro the rest of the week, and the latter for the weekend (and because it was on sale).
Breakfast: Banana bread & peanut butter (leftovers from Sunday)
Lunch: Chicken sandwich with Havarti cheese & chicken soup
Dinner: Marterdi [Spring pad link] & steamed basmati rice

Friends are coming over. I've made Marterdi successfully before, and it's regularly well received. This week I'm adding vegetables to this dish and using leftover ground beef (empanada mix & one lone hamburger) and sliced cooked sausage instead of uncooked 12 sausages. I'll serve it over chicken-broth infused basmati rice, cooked with a nob of butter.
Breakfast: Banana bread & peanut butter
Lunch: Chicken sandwich with havarti cheese & chicken soup
Dinner: Leftover buffet & Steamed vegetables

Right now this looks like it will be the last of the chicken broth, leftover marterdi (mostly beans & veg), and/or more appetizers and empanadas. It could be fried eggs over beans, or maybe a big salad with some cheese, beans, and slices of apple; we shall see

It got me thinking.
At some point, I began buying what I wanted to make and supplementing from my pantry. Instead, I should have been starting with my pantry and supplementing with what I buy. The realization that I had it all backwards was rather startling. I read all kinds of cooking, frugal, and menu-planning blogs; but I'd forgotten this step.

  1. Inventory your pantry.
  2. Look at the flyers to figure out what's on sale (and where).
  3. Make your menu from your inventory.
  4. Figure out the maximum you can make from your inventory, then supplement by buying extras.
So, that's what I'm going to do next week.
Also, I'm going to stop planning (and buying for) 7 dinners & lunches. Instead I'll plan 5-6 a week, and expect to make at most 5.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Menu plan for the week of January 17, 2010

What a week!
It seemed like every day there was some new chore to run. I tried to limit what I bought this week, intending to eat out of the pantry. I dug out some new spices, went fishing through my collected recipes on Spring pad and came up with a few interesting ideas.

Monday menu planning with the Organizing JunkieAs always, lunches are leftovers. Snacks are fresh fruits/vegetables with simple dips. Breakfast is toast & natural peanut butter or oatmeal. My drinks of choice are tea, diet coke and water (unfortunately, in that order). My goal this week is to get through to Friday without ordering in or not making something on the menu. Wish me luck!

Breakfast: Multigrain Breakfast Musli, an apple & tea.
Lunch: Steak burritos, diet coke. Snack: broccoli, cauliflower, dip
Dinner: Roast chicken, baby potatoes & salad with red wine vinagrette, diet coke

I had a ton of folks over in the afternoon, and even with the smell of roasting chickens, they didn't stay for dinner. :)

I bought two small grain-fed chickens, trussed them with lemons, tossed two cut up carrots, some celery, an onion and a ton of herbs and butter in with the birds and cooked them for about an hour. This results in one bird for dinner, and the second for leftover chicken for the week. I've also now got tons of stuff to make more chicken broth this weekend.

Breakfast: Multigrain Breakfast Musli, an apple & tea.
Lunch: Shepperd's pie, diet coke. Snack: an apple
Dinner: Chicken a la king, soda biscuits, salad & green tea
Desert: Pistachio ice cream

Chicken a la king, also known as chicken and vegetables in a white sauce. It's one of my favourite ways to use up leftover chicken. I always try to make a few extra soda biscuits as they make really good additions to a lunch and they freeze well, even when baked.

The ice cream was requested specifically. It will mean a fair bit of shifting of things in my freezer; but it shall be made tonight and ready to eat either late tonight or tomorrow night for dinner. If anyone has a favourite ice cream recipe--please share. I'm always looking to expand my repertoire.

Breakfast: Toast, peanut butter, tea. Snack: an apple
Lunch: Roast chicken legs, potatoes, asparagus & peppers, diet coke, an apple. Snack: yogurt & flax seed
Dinner: Mom's cold season chicken soup with day old bread, tea.

Chicken soup is a very fast meal to make if you have all the ingredients handy. Tasty too. Any leftovers should go great as additions to lunch (like the basis of a healtier raman) or last in the fridge until the weekend.

Breakfast: Toast, peanut butter, tea. Snack: an apple
Lunch: Healthier Raman, diet coke, an apple Snack: yogurt & flax seed
Dinner: Slow cooked beef & buttered noodles

It seems odd to make this recipe from a good cut of beef; but it's a bit freezer burned and needs to be used up. Without good grilling weather, it's therefore destined for the crock pot. The grey weather of late has me wanting gravy and this dish can produce a lot of it.

Breakfast: Toast, peanut butter, tea. Snack: an apple
Lunch: Lemon pepper tuna, crackers, and mixed vegetables, diet coke, an apple. Snack: Pretzels
Dinner: Broiled white fish, steamed green beans, tea.

A simple dinner of fish and vegetables, it's healthy and easy to make.
Breakfast: Toast, peanut butter, tea. Snack: an apple
Lunch: Leftover bonanza, diet coke, an apple. Snack: Pretzels
Dinner: Pot luck & Leftovers
I regularly bring food over to a friend's place and cook it. The problem is, I never know what I'm going to make until the day arrives. Then I email friends, tell them what I'm lacking and bring the rest. Dinners can be quite creative; but are always served (soup, meal & salad, sometimes desert) for 5$ a head. Sometimes I completely blow the budget (often with desert), but in general it's a fairly easy guideline. If someone brings food for the dinner (and not just snacks for the evening) they don't have to pay me $5.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Menu plan for the week of January 10, 2010

And so it continues.
We've not even had the Cosco card for a month, and already we're planning our next trip. Still, if we're careful then the purchase of a membership at our local bulk store is a wise decision. Figures though, one week after getting the card and we stumble on a 1/2 price sale for toilet paper. So that's one thing we won't be buying at Cosco for a while.

They have everything at Cosco. It's rather intimidating. Being part of a household of two - any six pack of consumables that can't be frozen (bread, baked goods, cheeses, etc) are problematic, and even those that can be frozen (meats, finished meals, etc) are often so large that my new and ginormous fridge-freezer is too small to store them properly. It's a hard question to ask. But do you really need to purchase a six month supply of eggs, shampoo and office supplies? The savings on such things are often marginal at best. But if you're careful, you can find a few deals. Note to self: pack a calculator and your price book.

Monday menu planning with the Organizing JunkieAs always, lunches are leftovers. Snacks are fresh fruits/vegetables with simple dips. Breakfast is toast & natural peanut butter or oatmeal. My drinks of choice are tea, diet coke and water (unfortunately, in that order). My goal this week is to get through to Friday without ordering in or not making something on the menu. Wish me luck!

Breakfast: Egg sandwich, whole grain, turkey sausage. Tea. Snack: Rice cakes
Lunch: Smoked meat sandwich, diet coke. Snack: Kellog's bar
Dinner: Chicken nuggets & mixed green salad. Diet coke.

It was my day to cook; I just didn't cook dinner.

Dinner was frozen chicken nuggets with a bag of mixed salad and bottled salad dressing. Yummy - but not home cooked.

Today I baked two turkey legs (strained and saved the broth, shredded the meat and saved the bones for soup. I made 4l of chicken broth (with mostly leftover vegetables and a bit of chicken bones) in the crock pot, and a cooked up two breakfasts worth of blackberry multi-grain oatmeal.

Breakfast: Tea. Blackberry multi-grain oatmeal. Snack: Kellog's bar
Lunch: Risotto & cassoulet. Apple & diet coke Snack: cottage cheese
Dinner: Hearty Ministrone soup and leftover bread. Tea. Snack: Banana bread?

This is a great bean soup with a few vegetables. It tastes best when made with homemade stock, but any stock will do. The recipe I'm using makes enough for 4 hungry people; so I'm hoping to have a small amount left over for lunches.

I also hope to make some more banana bread (mostly for breakfasts later in the week, but also as tonight's desert). Only time will tell if this happens though.

Deli-style coleslaw and meatball subs
A classic combination, this is another version of a very sloppy joe. The meatballs are drenched in freshly made tomato sauce that is barely even seasoned. I am just as apt to use store-bought meatballs as homemade for this recipe; but the tomato sauce is simple and comes together so quickly that it is worth making from scratch. The coleslaw is creamy and gives the meal the traditional deli twist that would be otherwise lacking from eating on real plates with cutlery.

Basic sauteed chicken cutlets with mixed green salad
This is quickly becoming a winter staple for me. The chicken breasts and flattened (or cut, depending on how I feel) and then pan fried in very little oil. Sometimes I make a sauce, but most times I don't.

Risotto and Martedi and possibly apple pie
Can you tell I have people coming over? Risotto is a pleasantly creamy dish that goes well with anything. Martedi is a recipe (of sorts) by Fae; and a great way to feed a crowd with very little preparation. The dinner isn't gorgeous, but it is delicious.

There's been a request in my house for me to make another apple pie. I've given a definite maybe to the request. If it's gonna happen -- it will be the night folk come over.

Soda biscuits and turkey a la king
The recipe is for chicken a la king, but I have leftover (cooked) turkey thanks to the cooking I did on Sunday. Soda biscuits are the easiest bread you'll ever make and come together in less than 30 minutes. They'll be put in the oven as soon as the turkey a la king goes onto the stove and both should be ready about the same time.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Weekly menu for January 03, 2010

Happy New Year!
My sister gave me a blank recipe book for Christmas. I promised my mother I'd fill it with recipes and give it to her. If all works well, I can give her the book and a link to my Springpad! At least then she'll be able to read my recipes. I'm trying to update them and comment on them as I use them; in most cases this also means minor alterations due to either goofs on my part (leaving out a recipe, misreading when it's supposed to go in, etc), or simply having to substitute ingredients due to costs.

Monday menu planning with the Organizing JunkieThere's another round of clean-out-your pantry going on out there in the Internet (as hosted by Jessica at Life as Mom and Crystal at Money Saving Mom). I'm not going to partake; but I am trying to design meals around what I have rather than what I need.

I'm still trying to finish off the little bottles in my fridge; but there's only so many uses I can find for hot and savory sauces. Friends comment that my fridge is always full to bursting; I tell them to look again just before I go shopping -- it gets pretty empty around then.

As always, lunches are leftovers. Snacks are fresh fruits/vegetables with simple dips. Breakfast is toast & natural peanut butter or oatmeal. My drinks of choice are tea, diet coke and water (unfortunately, in that order). I'm trying to stay away from deserts for a while, but (considering the number of dead bananas in my fridge), I can see myself making a loaf (or two) of banana bread.

Chicken Cassoulet, steamed broccoli
The dish took a fair bit of time to assemble, but I was able to do it with company in the house. I cooked way too much and will be eating the leftovers for lunches this week. It's a very hearty meal, but a bit bland for my tastes. Cheese helps, but I'm wondering if some of the spicy pastes in my pantry wouldn't help more.

Steak Fajitas.
Served atop flour tortillas (warmed in the stove), these are filled with a mixture of sandwich steak, bell pepper, salsa, and sour cream. Just one problem -- I'm out of tortillas. I made quesadillas for friends on Saturday and that used up my supply. I found a recipe online, so this might just work.

Fish sticks, steamed vegetables, basmati rice
I'll make the rice with chicken broth & herbs; mostly just to give it some flavour. As to the fish sticks - they're store bought.

Turkey Scallopini, buttered noodles and green salad
I have a package of Turkey Scallopini in the freezer that's been there a while. This is another easy meal. The noodles are whole wheat egg noodles that I'll cook up and add a bit of thyme and butter to flavour. The green salad is dressed with a red wine vinagrette.

Cracker crusted fish, risotto and steamed vegetables. Banana bread.
Every time I put this recipe on my menu, something happens. Last time we ran out of crackers for ... um ... some unknown reason. Still, I want to use up the fish in my freezer -- so crackers or no crackers -- it will be eaten on Thursday.

The banana bread is technically for Friday night; but it has to be tested before I can dole it out to friends.

Santa-Fey Chicken Chili with cornbread biscuits. Banana bread (leftovers).
Chili always pleases a crowd. Ideally, I'll have everything mixed up and cooked before leaving the house in the morning. I realized this weekend that, whenever I bring soups, stews or chili's (or even wet ingredients for a meal) to serve to people, I pack the food hot in to freshly-washed mason jars. The results are easy to carry and I never worry about leakage.