Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Week Plan Wednesday

Another bonus week!  What the really means is that I forgot to post last week's plan, so you get them both today.  Yay!   Well, except for last week Wednesday, because I didn't write it down, and I've completely forgotten what we ate.

th- Black bean and sweet potato chili.  Cornbread.  Cucumber slices.

f- Turkey meatballs in Moroccan spiced tomato sauce.  Salmon hash.  Quick pickled carrots.

s- Italian veggies and ricotta over brown rice.

su- Baked potatoes done up as taco salad.

m- Auntie A organized dinner.  Hamburgers and sweet corn on the grill. Deli potato and broccoli salads.

t- Split pea soup.  Bread.

Wednesday- Homemade pizza.  Marinated bell pepper salad.

Thursday- Eggs Benedict a la Grandma.  Steamed green beans.  

Friday- Roasted chicken.  Roasted potatoes with garlic, feta and lemon.  Sweet corn.  Broccoli salad (the old fashioned kind with bacon and raisins).

Saturday- Asian lettuce wraps.  You can find a million recipes online for these handy things, but they aren't hard to fake.  Basically, chop whatever veggies and meat you have on hand into pea sized pieces.  Then stir fry with harmonious Asian seasonings (Chinese = 5 spice powder, soy sauce, rice vinegar.  Thai = fish sauce, chili sauce, soy sauce.  Japanese = mirin, ginger, dark sesame oil.  Everybody loves garlic, onions, or scallions.  Be creative.)  Wrap your tasty mix in lettuce leaves, the same way you would wrap up a taco in a tortilla.  Eat.  

Sunday- Caponata overnight in the crock pot.  Bread.  Broccoli salad with lemon and garlic.  Caponata is basically the Sicilian version of ratatouille, so eggplant, peppers, and tomatoes stewed up together.   It skips ratatouille's zucchini and adds olives, but essentially it's pretty forgiving technique-wise, as it's stew.

Monday- Fettuccine alfredo with zucchini ribbons.  (Because people make faux-fettuccine out of zucchini, but why stop there?  I'm no on Akins!  I could go for some real pasta, too!)   Lettuce salad.   

Tuesday- Chicken soup with chayote squash & chipotle in adobo.  Mexican rice, refried beans, and tortillas if I have the energy to do them.

Also, I've edited my bread recipe with a few notes.  So feel free to check that out.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Week Plan Wednesday

Wednesday- Amazing Cauliflower Curry over Slippery Rice Noodles.  Oh, I wish I had a recipe for you.  I used the cream from a can of coconut milk in the dal I made last week, so I used just the milk and both a little curry powder and a little more Thai red curry paste to make curry with waxy red potatoes, onions, and a whole lotta cauliflower.  I topped everything with cilantro.  It was magnificent.  The Gibbon refused to even taste it until he had eaten a huge mound of noodles.  After trying a bite, however, he ate four bowls full.

Thursday- T-bone steak, sweet potatoes, and potatoes on the grill.  Coleslaw.  The steak was wonderful.  The potatoes were burned to death.  We need to work on technique, apparently.

Friday- Grandma is coming!

Saturday- Crock pot spinach, zucchini, and mushroom lasagna.  Salad?  Bread?  Either today or tomorrow I'll need to bake.

Sunday- Caramelized Vidalia onion focaccia.  Salad with lettuce, tomatoes, and cucumbers.  Maybe more Vidalia onions in the salad.  That sounds yummy.  Guess what was on sale this week?

Monday- Turkey meatballs.  Pasta with broccoli cream pesto.  Loosely based on this recipe.  A raw vegetable, depending on what's still in the fridge.

Tuesday- Chicken with Cauliflower and Olives, based on this recipe.  Also roasted potatoes, which makes it totally not a "Paleo" meal.  But I like potatoes, so there.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Week Plan Wednesday

Since I totally neglected to post a meal plan last week, I'm sort of obligated to be more on the ball this week.  Rest assured, we ate pasta no fewer than 4 times.  Because when I don't have a plan, it's either variations on a grilled cheese sandwich or pasta.  And as we no longer buy tortillas (so sad), there aren't a lot of grilled cheese options these days.

Wednesday- A long ER visit necessitated take out burgers.  At 9 PM.  So fun.

Thursday- Homemade chicken noodles soup.  Bread.  Fresh sliced cucumbers and orange peppers.

Friday- Wilted spinach salad with onion, feta cheese, and Polish sausage.  Loosely based on this recipe.    Cornbread muffins.

Saturday- Basic, boring dal.  Vegetarian vegetable curry.  I don't have a recipe in mind, but it will involve coconut milk and a lot of green and orange peppers, as I have those in the fridge, and a package of spice mix bought at the grocery store.  Because for just about a buck, I don't have to mix my own spices.  Bonus for ones with no salt added so you can adjust salt to your own preference.

Sunday- Mushroom Rice Pilaf and Braised Broccoli with Orange and Parmesan (recipe below).

Monday- Tacos.  Homemade tortillas (because, see above), Mexican rice, black beans, ground beef and onions seasoned with chili and cumin, sour cream, cheese, tomatoes, no lettuce because I don't much like it.

Tuesday- The Gibbon really, really, really wants split pea soup.  I love The Gibbon, so I will make it one more time before it's too hot to even contemplate the dish.

Braised Broccoli with Orange and Parmesan
Liberally adapted from True Food by Andrew Weil

Cut two or three heads of broccoli into bite sized pieces.
Heat 1/2 cup orange juice and one 24 oz can of crushed tomatoes until boiling.  Stir in a pinch of red pepper flakes and a substantially more generous pinch or oregano.
Add all the broccoli you cut up, or at least as much as you can fit in the pot.  Stir until the broccoli's covered in sauce, then put a lid on the pot and cook for maybe three minutes.  Only let it cook until the broccoli's bright green, it still needs a bit of crunch.
Take the pot off the heat and add parmesan cheese, salt, and pepper a little bit at a time until your broccoli tastes amazing or is totally gone because you "tasted" it all.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Let's Bake Bread!

I've had a request from a friend for help learning to bake bread.  First step, a recipe.  Actually, first step is taking a deep breath.  New bread bakers are often a worried lot.  You can spend days trolling The Fresh Loaf and intimidating yourself out of ever even starting, but it wouldn't be helpful.

Here's what you need to know: if you want a very specific result, both art and science come into play and you will need equipment like a kitchen scale.  If you just want something that is bread, that you can put butter on, or maybe make a sandwich with, there is a large margin for error.  Your bread will probably turn out just fine.  You will be able to eat it.

As a note, if you plan to make your own bread quite often, it's probably worth buying a stand mixer (like the ubiquitous KitchAid).  A hand mixer, like whatever you can buy at WalMart, will not do the trick.  The dough will destroy it, and you will feel annoyed.  If making bread is just a sometimes thing for you, or if you're not sure how committed you are, don't feel the need for a couple hundred dollar piece of equipment.  You can use old fashioned elbow grease to kneed.  And some people even discover that the manual kneeding is their favorite part.

Another note, you don't need oil or sugar, but the sugar and oil both help with the texture of the bread, and the oil keeps it from getting stale for an extra few days.

A few more notes (oh man, so many notes).  1) I measure by scooping my measuring cup into the flour and then leveling it off.  I probably get 20% more flour in each "cup" by using that technique than someone spooning the flour in and then leveling it off.   2)  If your dough is too wet, it won't rise properly.  If your dough is too dry, it won't rise properly.  Either way, you'll be able to eat it, but it won't be quite so light and fluffy.  Honestly, the amount of flour I use any given week varies by as much as 1/3 cup.   If your dough is too wet, you can keep kneading it and it will eventually come together, or you can add more flour.  Eventually you'll get a feel for how wet of a dough you can get away with, but until then, aim for "smooth ball" instead of "sticky mass."

Everybody Loves My Buns

1 tsp yeast
1 cup warm water
1 1/2 cups white flour
1/4 to 1/3 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/4 to 1/3 cup oil
1 tsp salt

While you make breakfast for yourself (and the kids, if applicable), throw the first 4 ingredients together and stir them to combine.  Let this goopy mess sit on the counter for 20 minutes or more while you eat and clean up breakfast.  This is called autolyzing.  It saves you from having to mix until the gluten forms nice long strands.  If you don't have 20 minutes, mix it at high speed for 5 minutes or so until when you pull the beater out of the bowl, looooong strands of dough stretch drippily down.

Add the last three ingredients and mix well.  Once everything comes together, if you don't have a stand mixer, you'll need to kneed.  Otherwise, let the mixer do the heavy work for you, while you stand around with a cup of coffee in your hand and a toddler on your hip (or whatever else suits your fancy).

Once the dough has come together in a nice, smooth ball (which will take more or less time depending on how wet the dough is), it needs to rise.  Leave it in the mixing bowl, or put it in any container not made of aluminum or iron.  Loosely cover it up with something to keep the moisture in.  A shower cap works well, or a kitchen towel or a lid would be fine too.  Let it sit someplace nice and warm for 2 hours or until it's doubled in size.  I usually just leave it until after naps.

Shape the dough into buns or a loaf.  Cover it again and let it rise for another hour or more.  I just let it sit until I need to bake it for dinner.  In an oven preheated to 350 degrees, buns take about 15 to 20 minutes and a loaf of bread takes 40 to 50 minutes. 

Eat hot, or let cool and store in a plastic bag like the one leftover from the last loaf of bread you bought.