Meal planning: July 30-Aug 5

Monday July 30 – Pizza.  Some pesto for one.  Seems we could have pizza twice a week around here and be happy.  Peach pie?

Tuesday July 31 Slow cooker peanut chicken.  Extra rice for next day.

Wednesday August 1 – Black bean burritos.

Thursday August 2 – Lentil burgers, corn on the cob, homemade buns.

Friday August 3Maple mustard pork chops.  Glazed carrots.

Saturday August 4 – Grilled burgers, homemade fries, some vegetable depending on what comes in the basket.

Sunday August 5 – TBD

Black Bean Burritos
Ingredients:
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10-oz.) can Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 package (8-oz.) low-fat cream cheese
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (Can easily substitute a small amount of dry or leave this out)
4 – 6 Flour tortillas
Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped fresh tomatoes,avocadoDirections:
1) Heat a small amount of oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds.
2) Add beans, Rotel, and cream cheese and heat through. Stir in rice and season with cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cilantro.
3) Wrap in a tortilla and serve with desired topping. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
 
Lentil burgers
1 onion – chopped
1 TBSP oil
1/2 cup dry lentils (we typically use green lentils which are more readily available at the grocery store)
1 1/4 cup broth (I use vegetable broth made from Better Than Bouillion brand)
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use Italian flavored Panko)
1/2 cup dry oatmeal (quick cook or old fashioned)
spices to taste (I don’t use any, just the Italian panko)
 
Add oil and onion to a medium sized sauce pan.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add broth and lentils and cook 30-45 minutes.  Drain excess broth and cook (I don’t bother to cool).  Beat in eggs, bread crumbs, and oatmeal and spices.  Make into patties (probably 5 or 6?)  Cook in a fry pan until browned on each side.  I use a small amount of oil or cooking spray on the pan.  We add cheese to ours.

 

 

 

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Randomly in review with no pictures…

I really don’t have many pictures today.  I guess we’ve been eating too quickly to take many good pictures or something.

I made pulled pork again.  We liked but weren’t in love with the root beer pulled pork.  So I searched for something else with the plan of eating the final result with plum sauce.  I found a recipe at The Way the Cookie Crumbles based on a Cooks Illustrated recipe for a spice rub.  I basically used that except skipped the saran wrap step.  I thawed the pork shoulder in the fridge.  Then between midnight and one am the day I wanted to put it in the crock pot I was up because I knew I’d need to go to the hospital soon I made the rub and rubbed it on the meat.  I then put the meat in a suitable sized tupperware and back in the fridge.

Spice rub from Cooks Illustrated

Spice Rub:
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
1-2 teaspoons cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 tablespoons ground cumin
2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 tablespoon dried oregano
4 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoons table salt
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 tablespoon ground white pepper

I put a bit of liquid smoke and about 1/2 cup of water in the slow cooker and cooked it on low for about 12 hours.  I’m sure it could have gone less.  The rub was perfect.  Slightly spice but not too spicy.  The original recipe says wrap in saran wrap for 3 hours to three days.  Three days would have been too spicy for us.

Another terrific easy meal this week was fish tacos.  Why have I not made these before.  I spent some time last week browsing How to Cook Everything and decided to make them.  The basic recipe in there called for whitefish (I used cod) and broiling or microwaving the fish.  We wanted a little more.  I ended up with something roughly based on this recipe which uses our beloved Panko.  Very quick yummy recipe.

I made a lovely bread machine cheese bread from a King Arthur Flour recipe that Dakota Guy said tastes like a a bacon egg and cheese biscuit biscuit.  Will make again for sure.  I used a combination of Parmesan and chedder.

We also had PIZZA!!!!  We used my homemade frozen dough.  I will never go back to store dough again.  So fabulous!

beer pizza dough with beer

I’ve been looking for tasty ways to use up the last of the plums from our add on to bountiful baskets last week.

All the plums

A friend offered me some zucchini and since our plants have only one little tiny baby zucchini I took them.  I dried some.  Not sure how it will work in soups/stews/chili which is my goal.  but they sure got tiny.

4 big zucchini became this

I made these plum muffins!  And this zucchini bread which makes enough for a mini loaf or 6 cupcakes and a regular loaf.

Another food processor win!

My last day of vacation today.  Back to work tomorrow.  I told Dakota Boy and he said, “Oh, no, no Mommy back to work!!!”  I have to say I share his sentiment.  It’s been a really nice week.  I love the stay-cation.  Our version doesn’t even involve a fancy hotel in our own town.  Just taking it easy enjoying each other at home and trying not to work too hard.

Plums for Plum Conserve

I used some more of the Bountiful Basket plums to make Plum Conserve.  I used a recipe from the Ball Blue book, but it was similar to this.

I got to use my food processor again.  The smell of this simmering was a lovely combination of fresh summer plums and fall cinnamon and oranges.  I tasted a few spoonfuls that didn’t fit in the jars at the end.  Delicious.

Looked so good we ate before taking pictures

I decided on Lettuce Wraps with the Bountiful Basket butter lettuce tonight.  I roughly used this recipe.  Except I left out the mushrooms, dark soy sauce, oyster sauce and rice wine.  I used regular soy sauce in place of the dark and hoisin sauce for the oyster sauce.  They were great.  Perfect lettuce for wraps.

Asian Chicken Lettuce Wraps
Modified from Skinnytaste.com

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz skinless, boneless chicken breasts, ground
  • 1/4 cup water chestnuts, chopped fine
  • 1 tbsp soy sauce (I used reduced sodium)
  • 1 1/2 tsp sesame oil
  • 1⁄2 tsp sugar
  • ground white pepper, to taste
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 butter lettuce leaves, rinsed (careful not to break)

For the Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauces:

  • 4 tbsp hoisin sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chili sauce, I used Sriracha (which made me think of my brother-in-law)
  • 1 tbsp warm water

Directions:
Combine soy sauce, 1/2 tsp sesame oil, sugar, and pepper in a bowl.  Combine ground chicken (I put the chicken in the food processor) and water chestnuts into a bowl. Pour over chicken; toss. Let marinate for 15 minutes.  Mix Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce ingredients in another bowl. Set aside.  Heat remaining sesame oil in a wok or skillet over high heat. Add garlic; cook until golden, about 10 seconds. Add chicken mixture; stir fry until browned, breaking the chicken up as it cooks, about 4-7 minutes.

To serve, spoon 1/4 cup of the chicken into each lettuce leaf. Garnish with scallions and a spoon a little Spicy Hoisin Dipping Sauce onto each one.

The best part of the recipe in my mind was using the food processor to grind the chicken from boneless skinless breasts.  I’m not at all impressed with “ground chicken” at the grocery store.  It has no substance to it and seems to have a lot of added water.  This left nice chunks but seemed nicer than it would have been if I’d just cut it into little pieces.  Clearly easier too.  Plus, I get the five pound bags of boneless skinless chicken breasts on sale for between 3.99 and 5.99.  They were 3.99 a few weeks ago.  So, at .80 a pound that’s actually cheaper than ground chicken.

My food processor material recommended having chicken very cold but not still frozen and cutting it into one to one and a half inch strips before grinding.  I did one large and one small breast in two batches after chopping the water chestnuts.

 

Dakota Guy had some leftover rice from a few days ago with the meal.  After supper there was still between a half and three fourths cup of rice left.  I couldn’t see putting it away for later, but didn’t really want to compost it either.  Seemed like too much left.  So, rice pudding!!!

I have a treasured memory of some event at our home when I was a kid.  My mom made some fancy dessert and then some leftover rice pudding for my younger brother (probably 4 at the time???).  My mom must have asked my grandfather (her father-in-law) if he needed anything and I remember him saying he’d really like some of the rice pudding if there was more.  Dakota Boy approved of the stuff I made tonight too.  Good for all ages.  I’m pretty sure this is basically how my mom did it too, minus the raisins.  And I don’t think she added sugar, we just sprinkled some on with cinnamon.

Leftover Rice Rice Pudding

Put cooked rice and milk (any kind) in about a 1:1 ratio in a saucepan.  Add a small pinch of salt and a teaspoon or so of sugar.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat.  Add a teaspoon of vanilla and a few raisins if desired.  Simmer until most of the milk is absorbed.  20-45 minutes depending on how much you are making.  Divide into bowls.  Sprinkle with cinnamon.  Serve warm.

leftover rice rice pudding

 

 

 

 

 

Plum sauce

This week in addition to our regular bountiful basket we ordered the Plummy Paradise Sampler pack.  I’ve been excited about this ever since.  My initial plan was plum jelly.  That still may happen, but since then I picked currants and made 3 plus quarts of juice for jelly, some currant jelly, and some raspberry currant jelly.  So I’m a bit jellied out.  I’m not sure what varieties we will end up with either.  I found this nice guide to plum varieties.

I decided rather than jelly, my first project with some of the plums will be plum BBQ sauce.  The recipe that I think I will stick to fairly closely other than doubling is from the Ball Blue Book.  What a treasure that book is.  Bonus with this recipe is I can use my food processor too!

Plum Sauce – from Ball Blue Book
Yield: about 4 pints 4 pounds of plums (I used closer to 4.5)

2 cups brown sugar3/4 cup chopped onion

2 T mustard seed (I might add a bit of dried mustard too)
2 T chopped green chili pepper
1 piece fresh ginger (generous)
1 T salt
3 clove garlic, minced
1 cup cider vinegar
 
Wash plums; drain.  Pit and chop plums.  Combine remaining ingredients in a large saucepan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat.  Add chopped plums.  Cook until thick and syrupy.  Ladle hot sauce into jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace.  Adjust 2 piece caps.  Process 20 minutes in a boiling-water canner.The plums came.   Twelve pounds of plums is quite a bit more than I imagined.

All the plums

The variety possibilities were on the side of the package.  I thought I’d try to match them up and see what was there, but I really didn’t.  I just took the plums that were ripe or close to it which totaled 5 pounds and set the rest aside to ripen.

I didn’t take many process pictures because it was already dark in my kitchen at 8:30 pm when I started this project.  I used my new friend the food processor to chop the garlic, ginger and onion first.  Then started simmering that with the other ingredients while I de-pitted the plums.

ripe plums day of arrival – became plum sauce

I then chopped the plums with the skin on in the food processor and dumped then in to the simmering sauce each time I filled the food processor bowl.

Plum sauce

I ladled out some of the big chunks of plum and processed them some more (immersion blender would be handy here).  And simmered and simmered.

Then I ladled into jars, put on the two piece lids.  I’m loving my tattler reusable lids.  I do some with the regular lids in case I want to gift some of the sauce.  I hate to tell people they have to bring the lid back.  But the thought of not having to throw away the metal lid each time is fabulous.  Plus lids get reasonably expensive.  The reusable ones were roughly $50 for three dozen wide and three dozen narrow.  So about .70 per lid.  Ball lids are roughly .35 for narrow and .45 for wide.  Perhaps I could get them for less on sale, but those are the amazon prices.  So, I really only have to use the reusable twice to break even

 
 

Bountiful Baskets and Meal Planning July 22 – 28

This week’s bountiful basket was fabulous.  I get the conventional basket, so for $15 I got the following

Broccoli
5 ears of sweet corn
Big bunch of carrots
Butter lettuce
2 yellow squash
2 English Cucumbers
1 pound of grapes
Raspberries
Cantalope
1 pound of strawberries
10 plums
 

I also bought the 12 pound assortment of plums.  I’m not sure what all I plan to do with this other than the plum sauce I canned.

I planned meals for the week mostly based on what came in the basket.

Sunday July 22 – Zucchini pancakes from Mark Bittman’s How to Cook Everything (HTCE).  Beer glazed black eyed peas from the same book.  Fresh fruit cut up.

Monday July 23 – Lettuce wraps like these or these or this salad Blackened Chicken salad with creamy honey mustard dressing

Tuesday July 24 – Pulled pork with plum sauce, sweet corn

Wednesday July 25 – Fish Tacos recipe from HTCE, corn again?

Thursday July 26 – Spaghetti and meatballs (carried over from last week, never got it made), maple glazed carrots

Friday July 27 – Pizza with frozen dough (probably in the oven not grill?)

Saturday July 28 – Beef and Broccoli with savory wine sauce (from American Heart Association One Dish Meals)

Some of our favorite Meatless Meals – part 1

We just had the fun of a visit from my sister.  She’s moving somewhat close to us to start a new adventure – Teach for America.  It’s a great program and we are all so proud of her.  And glad to have her somewhat close.  We spent some time talking about food while she was here.  She’s going to live in a place remote enough that makes our town look like a city.  So food shopping and planning will likely be fairly essential if the nearest store with more than bread, milk and butter is an hour and a half away (when you live here you describe distances in hours not miles).
She is going to be living with two roommates.  She’s a pro at having roommates and I think had a good routine of cooking some with her housemates in her prior house.  Here though, one of the two other people she will be living with is vegetarian.  So, I’m compiling a list of our current favorite meatless meals.

Lentil burgers
1 onion – chopped
1 TBSP oil
1/2 cup dry lentils (we typically use green lentils which are more readily available at the grocery store)
1 1/4 cup broth (I use vegetable broth made from Better Than Bouillion brand)
2 eggs
1/2 cup bread crumbs (I use Italian flavored Panko)
1/2 cup dry oatmeal (quick cook or old fashioned)
spices to taste (I don’t use any, just the Italian panko)
 
Add oil and onion to a medium sized sauce pan.  Cook until onions are translucent.  Add broth and lentils and cook 30-45 minutes.  Drain excess broth and cook (I don’t bother to cool).  Beat in eggs, bread crumbs, and oatmeal and spices.  Make into patties (probably 5 or 6?)  Cook in a fry pan until browned on each side.  I use a small amount of oil or cooking spray on the pan.  We add cheese to ours. 
 

The first time we made these they fell apart a bit – here’s how they look

 

Dakota Guy loves these although he prefers to call them lentil sandwiches.  He has issues with veggie burgers trying to pretend to be something they are not (meat) and thinks more people would like them if they didn’t have “burger” in their heads when eating them.

Black Bean Burgers from Annie’s Eats
Dakota guy prefers lentil burgers.  I made these with my home canned beans and did really enjoy them. 
 
 
Black Bean Burritos
Ingredients:
1 cup chopped onion
2 teaspoons minced garlic
1 (15-oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
1 (10-oz.) can Rotel tomatoes, drained
1 package (8-oz.) low-fat cream cheese
1 cup cooked white or brown rice
1/2 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon teaspoon chili powder
Salt and pepper to taste
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (Can easily substitute a small amount of dry or leave this out)
4 – 6 Flour tortillas
Optional toppings: sour cream, shredded cheese, chopped fresh tomatoes,avocadoDirections:
1) Heat a small amount of oil over medium heat in a large saucepan. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds.
2) Add beans, Rotel, and cream cheese and heat through. Stir in rice and season with cumin, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Stir in cilantro.
3) Wrap in a tortilla and serve with desired topping. Yield: 4 to 6 servings.
 

The key with this recipe is it is QUICK.  From start to in our bellies in 15 minutes or less provided I make rice ahead or plan so I have leftover rice from another meal to use.  Even quicker if I chop the onion the night before as well.  I often have a chopped onion or part of an onion in an “onion jar” in my fridge.  I keep a few used salsa jars or other small jars to keep onions part used in in the fridge so our milk and other food don’t smell like onion.

Mac n cheese
Not quick or healthy, but oh so yummy comfort food
 
 
Veggie pizza
Veggie in any form (as a bonus can make multiple pizzas and have some meat on some for the carnivores) is a nice option.
This collection of 25 different veggie pizzas from Martha Steward is a good starting point.  I’ve newly decided making my own pizza dough is the way to go (or making a bunch ahead and freezing).  But, a nice alternative if you aren’t so inclined, M, is grocery store frozen dough.  Or bread machine pizza dough is awesome too if you decide to go that way so you can keep bread on hand for sandwiches and stuff if you end up not going grocery shopping weekly.  I did some research and apparently the “best” budget bread machine is apparently a sunbeam.  On amazon it gets fabulous reviews too and won’t even cost as much as a month’s rent 😉
 
 
Baked Ziti and summer veggies
Not sure if zucchini are as commonplace there as here (people joke that you shouldn’t leave your car unlocked in the summer because you might come back to find a bag of zucchini in it).  I actually love them and find millions of uses for them including putting them on veggie pizza.  Here’s another fabulous use.  Dakota Guy and Dakota Boy both enjoyed this.  I made used slightly different veggies (some mushrooms and things to use up our most recent bountiful basket).  Also, fresh herbs were great in it.  But I wouldn’t hesitate to just use a small amount of dried if I didn’t have fresh on hand rather than spend the money on fresh at the grocery store.
 

There’s a start.  Six meatless meals that are or will be part of a regular rotation around here.

Meal planning (July 16-22)

I’m feeling sort of blah about meal planning.  Or rather about the meals I come up with.  I like actually eating them and cooking them, but want a bit more variety.  Might need to start watching cooking shows on tv or something…

Monday – Baked Ziti and summer veggies

Tuesday – Indian Butter Chicken, naan,   and rice.  Our local grocery store had everything but the tandoori masala and the cardamom pods.  I broke down and ordered from amazon because this looked so good.  So much for pantry cooking.

Wednesday – Spaghetti and meatballs (Barefoot Contessa Family Style pg 103)

Thursday –  grilled pizza, have mom and dad and brother.

Friday – DATE!!!!

Saturday – Black Bean Dal and naan.  Originally had something like this at a cafe that is now closed.  This has been the final end of my quest to recreate it.

BLACK BEANS

2 cups beans
6 cups water
2-3 T olive oil
1 T ginger root – finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 tsp Cumin seed
2 tsp Ground coriander
2 tsp Tumeric
2 tsp Paprika
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 T salt
2 tsp ground red pepper

Soak beans for 8 hours or more.  Drain and rinse beans.
Cook beans in water with ginger root and oil in pressure cooker for 30 minutes.
Open when cooled and add spices and garlic and simmer briefly.

The mixture should have the consistency of thick soup. The recipe can be prepared ahead and refrigerated for 5 to 6 days. Reheat before serving. Serve hot with rice or bread. Makes 12 servings.