Sunday, May 19, 2013

May 20 - 24

Oh, it's so wonderful and summery, isn't it?  Visited TWO different farmers' markets on Saturday, and so the fridge is overflowing with late spring veggies now.  The grill will be working overtime this week, as it rightly should when it's sunny and gorgeous out (and, frankly, in January as well.  I just love my grill.).

Here's our plan for the week!

Farmers' market extravaganza!  Got some lovely little tenderloin steaks from the folks at Maitland Family Farms (it's all grass fed and quite yummy), but they're not quite enough for a whole meal, so we'll add a few grilled scallops as well.

My favorite part...  the sides.  We're grilling purple asparagus, tiny little baby carrots, and wild leeks (aka ramps) brushed in a bit of olive oil and salted and peppered.

A bunch of kale in a bit of olive oil and salt, wrapped in foil and tossed on the grill.

Oven-roasted sweet potato wedges.

Here it is:

At first I was worried that the picture was inserted sideways.  But it's a picture of a round plate.  There isn't actually a top, is there?

Turkey burgers with sauteed mushrooms and onions
Grilled veggies (more carrots!  more asparagus!)
Salad (maybe with some blue cheese, but maybe with feta.  It'll be a game-time decision.  But there will be balsamic vinegar for dressing.)

Grilled veggies (you guessed it...  Carrots!  Asparagus!  But maybe also broccoli.  Or peppers.)


Crab cakes (my recipe is sort of vague, but it involves canned crab, an egg, some chopped red onion, chopped red bell pepper, mustard, a bit of sriracha, maybe a bit of mayo if it still needs something to hold it together.  Form them into cakes, pat with a bit of panko on the outside.  Heat oil in a pan, cook the cakes for a few minutes on each side (4 or so?) until the outsides are crispy and they're warmed all the way through.) Since it's grilling weather, I might try to cook these on the grill instead.  Have to think about this...

Oven-roasted sweet potatoes

Yum.  Have a beautiful week.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

May 5 - 9, 2013

Just spent my early Sunday morning drinking coffee, listening to birdies chirp, and plan recipes for the week. I started by checking the weather, which sounds absolutely perfect for most of the week: sunny and 72, pretty much. My initial instinct was to just pick a thing to grill each night and call it good, but I had to scan through some nearby recipes (Pinterest, magazines in the coffee table) and got a few other ideas. Besides, I wouldn't want to burn out on grilling too early in the year, right?

So here's our plan for the week!

Kebabs with meat and veggies (vague, I know). I know that in the freezer we have venison and chicken and shrimp and pork tenderloin... And I'm hoping when I go look, I might find some lamb as well. So the protein will be a mix of whatever appeals when I put on my flip flops in a few minutes and head to the garage. Veggies will definitely include mushrooms, chunks of Vidalia onion, bell pepper, and then whatever else we have: asparagus? Broccoli? Zucchini?

We'll marinate the meat in something pretty simple, involving garlic and basil and wine. The veggies will get a simple olive oil, vinegar (thinking red wine vinegar for this), salt and pepper seasoning.

We skewer the veggies together and the meat together. Mixing them is prettier, but they have different cooking times. Hate ending up with undercooked onions or black broccoli.

And then we'll grill! Green salad and maybe some roasted potatoes to go with.

Monday: Balsamic-Glazed venison rolls.
This is a straight-from-Pinterest recipe, but one that looks adaptable to whatever you have. So we'll use some thin-sliced venison steak, and then improvise the rest. The original recipe is here:

Grilled mahi-mahi and veggies.
Season the fish with a bit of oil, salt and pepper before grilling. When it's done, squeeze a bit of lemon juice and sprinkle some capers over it all. Grilled veggies on the side. We just got a new grilling basket in a clearance rack last weekend, so we'll be giving that thing a workout all week!

BLT chopped salad with avocado and poached eggs. This is something that simply springs from my Sunday morning desire for bacon and eggs. We'll make a lovely salad that has some chopped tomato, crumbled bacon, sautéed red onions, avocado, and blue cheese. Put on individual plates, poach an egg for each and pop it on top! Not sure about dressing, but the lovely runny egg sort of makes its own dressing, so maybe just a little balsamic vinegar to tart it up.

Chicken lettuce wraps:
Make a filling with chopped chicken, diced bell pepper, onion, small-chopped mushrooms, and maybe zucchini (carrot? Whatever other veggies made it until Thursday night in the fridge?). Sauté it all together until cooked, then season with a bit of soy sauce, sriracha, and rice wine vinegar. Serve in Boston lettuce leaves.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Brrrrr. Just brrrrr. (January 20 - 24)

The wind is whipping outside, and our little temperature gauge appears to be hovering between 12 and 14 degrees, depending on whether the sun is hitting it directly or not. So I thought it was a good time to think about what to cook, and to especially try to cook using things we already have, negating the need for a grocery store visit today.

Here's our plan. Stay warm.

Roasted venison chops
Brussels sprouts
Sweet potatoes

This is going to be an all-oven meal -- thus helping to keep the house even warmer. I don't know a temperature for the oven, but probably in the range of 425 -- that should be a good compromise for all the things that will be going in in there. We'll pan-sear the venison chop (it's about the size of a pork tenderloin, give or take) and finish it in the oven. We like it pretty rare, so we'll try to get the outside crispy and keep the inside nice and juicy. After we pull it we'll let it rest for a few minutes before slicing it thin.

We'll halve and roast the brussels sprouts, tossing them with some olive oil, salt, and pepper. If we're feeling indulgent, maybe some parmesan cheese sprinkled on top for the last 5 minutes of cooking. The sprouts can probably go for 20 - 30 minutes, until they start to brown and some of the individual leaves that have fallen off get crispy, like little brussels sprouts potato chips.

And we'll chop the sweet potatoes into cube-sized chunks, toss them with olive oil and some lovely seasoning (maybe cumin, or chile powder of some kind, or both) and spread out on a cookie sheet and bake. Again, about 30 minutes, I think.

We might make a little sauce with some sauteed mushrooms and garlic and red wine for the venison.

  Veggie minestrone.
 I'll cook this on Sunday -- I've started making a soup for every Monday night, but making it on Sunday when I have more time. I get to have yummy soup every Monday, and leftovers for lunch the rest of the week, and it gets time to meld and make that good day-after flavor for the first go-round. And I get to use my enamel soup pot -- sometimes both of them going at once, if I need one for Sunday dinner too. Here's what our stove looked like last week:
The green one had stew for Sunday, the red one had soup for Monday.  The house smelled really really good.

Parmesan crusted tilapia

Spaghetti squash with tomato sauce

Just like it sounds -- I'll cook a spaghetti squash ahead of time, then heat enough of the "noodles" up to make dinner (we'll freeze the rest in single-serving freezer bags). I'll stir in some spinach leaves, maybe saute some onion and add that as well. I'm just using tomato sauce from a jar and sprinkle with some shredded parmesan.

Mongolian beef
Fried rice (with red pepper, carrot, onion, zucchini, spinach, and peas)
Crab wontons (we made a big batch on New Year's Day and froze some -- so I'll give the frozen ones a try and see how they worked).

Have a great week!

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Seduced by Pinterest

About a year ago, my friend Amy started telling me about Pinterest.  "You'll love it," she said.  "It has tons of great recipes," she promised.  I put off joining until summer, and then Amy got me started and showed me around.  And I was hooked.  I DID love it!  It DID have tons of great recipes!  And so here's what happened...  this blog, that was always my digital storage area for the recipes I planned to use, became redundant.  And I ignored it for a while.  But after 3+ months of blogging hiatus, I'm realizing the other main benefit of this blog for me -- it's not just a place to store recipes I want to try, but it's also a record of the things I did cook -- and when, and how many weeks in a row exactly did I make homemade pizza...

So I still love Pinterest, but I'm trying to give this aspect of my virtual food life another go.  Because this morning, as I scrolled through my vast storehouse of pinned recipes, I realized I've lost track -- did I make this risotto recipe, or that one?  Have I tried that soup yet?  Relying on my memory alone means I have NO idea.

And also, I have way too many pins on that damn thing.  I need a pin board organizer, please.

So it's Thursday, and I don't have a plan for the upcoming week yet, but with a head-nod to the new year, I thought I'd mention our New Year's Day dinner.  We always try to cook something that might be a bit time-comsuming, but not necessarily hard (since we're home all day, but also feeling lazy).  This year's menu was built around the dessert -- I found a great recipe, then decided what food might taste best beforehand.

New Year's Day Dinner

Baked crab wontons with homemade sweet and sour sauce
Firecracker Shrimp
Lucky Stir Fry (from my new Christmas gift cookbook:  The Fresh and Green Table)
Coconut Lime ice cream

We make the wontons in mini muffin tins instead of folding them over -- just put a bit of filling in, and then squeeze all the edges of the wonton together.  It makes 36, so we had some and then tried to freeze the rest.  If they freeze well, we can have those when we get Thai take-out (instead of buying the random fried appetizer crap we love so much!).

My version of Lucky Stir Fry:

Make a sauce with about 2 tsp each of oyster sauce, lime juice, hoisin sauce, and brown sugar.  The recipe calls for 1/4 tsp of chili-garlic sauce, but I just gave a big old squeeze of sriracha instead.

In a big pan, heat some oil, then stir fry shiitake mushrooms, chopped asparagus, about an ear's worth of fresh corn kernels (ours were frozen -- from our corn-storing extravaganza after buying WAY too much at the farmer's market last summer), half a red pepper, half a green pepper, and a whole orange pepper (chopped into thin beautiful strips).  Add a little bit of soy sauce.

Toss in a bit of fresh ginger and garlic (I do way more garlic than ginger, since I like it way more -- but I bet you can adjust those two however you want) and about 3 chopped scallions.  Add the sauce mixture, then stir in some chopped peanuts and chopped mint.


So let's give this another go.  More soon!

Sunday, September 23, 2012

September 23 - 28

Happy fall!  Here's how I'm celebrating:  freezing inside my 63-degree house, yet not wanting to turn the furnace on for the first time.  Instead, I keep cooking things and burning candles.  WAY more efficient, right?

So we're settling into a kind of back-to-school, back-to-real-life routine.  And sitting down to plan a menu this time of year (when the freezer's full of summer veggies, and I've got stacks and stacks of canned goodies to choose from) is kind of like a free-for-all.  But planning a menu when you're hungry is sort of like grocery shopping when you're hungry, especially when the choices are limitless.  It's dangerous.  So I might find myself doing some editing as the week goes on, but here's the plan for now.

I was originally thinking chili, but we're only 2 days into fall, so there's LOTS of time for that, right?  Instead, I'm satisfying my urge for tomatoes and beans with Pasta Fagioli soup.  Quicker, a little more veggie-fied than chili, but still highly dippable with the yummy bread I got at Eastern Market yesterday.

Breakfast for dinner!
Pumpkin pancakes, sausage, and sliced apples.

For the pumpkin pancakes:
Mix together 1/2 c white flour, 1/2 c whole wheat flour
Add 2 teaspoons baking powder, 2 teaspoons sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt
In another bowl, mix together 1 beaten egg, 1/2 c milk or water (we never have milk when it's pancake time), 2 tablespoons cooking oil, and 1/2 - 1 c pumpkin puree.  (I start with 1/2 c, then after I mix the wet and dry ingredients, I add more if the mixture is too dry).  Use about 1/4 c batter for each pancake.

Maple syrup is so extra yummy on pumpkin pancakes.

Clams with bread and salad:

Steam clams in a broth made with onion, garlic, and white wine.  After that, pull them out, add some tomatoes and cook it down a bit.  Pour sauce back over the clams and use the bread for dipping the sauce.

I'm thinking a plain old salad with balsamic vinegar to go with.

Turkey burgers with swiss cheese
Oven roasted cauliflower
Sauteed cabbage

Grilled salmon with roasted brussels sprouts and balsamic lentils (cook lentils and serve with balsamic vinegar drizzled over 'em.  Quite lovely, I think.)

Homemade pizza!  I canned some sauce for the very first time on Saturday, and I'm anxious to try it out.  I made 14 jars, so I hope I like it.  (If not, everyone's getting pizza sauce for Christmas!)  The crust recipe is posted in last week's post.

Have a great week.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

September 16 - 20

If you know me at all, you know I tend to get ahead of myself during the edges of seasons.  I know it's technically still summer, but since it has been cooling off enough at night to sleep beautifully, I've been itching for fall.  Which is weird, because I'm a big big fan of summer.  But mentally I'm ready for lentils and soups and squashes.  (Which sounds fantastic when you wake up at 5:30 in the morning and it's 44 degrees outside, but not so much when you get home from work and it's sunny and almost 80.)

So I'm checking the weekly weather forecast before I make my food plan.  And just like my closet (which I worked on today, pulling out the MOST summery stuff, and beginning to add some of my cooler weather clothes), this week's menu is a mix and match of the seasons we're straddling.  See what you think.

Homemade pizza (I've posted my crust recipe here, with a mix of equal parts whole wheat and white flour.)
We'll top it with some basics:  onion, red pepper, chicken sausage, mushrooms, and maybe a bit of broccoli for fun.  Some hunks from a ball of mozzarella, and we'll be good to go!

Some delicious Fat Tire (now available in Michigan!) to go with.

Because the Lions are playing on Sunday night -- so we NEED football food for dinner.

My tomatoes have done exceedingly well this year, so I'm still finding ways to use them all up.  I'll make tomatoes stuffed with mushrooms, parmesan and spinach.  I can't wait.

The weather forecast is saying it will be cool on Tuesday, and maybe even rainy, so we're making meatloaf.  I don't crave it very often, and so I don't even have a go-to recipe...  so much time passes between each time I make it, I can't remember how I made it last time.  The fun thing is that I get to look for a new recipe each time I want it.  I'm trying Alton Brown's (from the Food Network) recipe this time.  It has cayenne and cumin in it, which are two of my favorite spices in the whole world.

We'll probably do some boiled baby potatoes and broccoli with it -- just a pretty basic dinner.

It's supposed to be nice out, so we'll grill -- chicken breasts, salmon fillets, or turkey burgers (they're all in our freezer right now, so we'll pick on Tuesday or Wednesday).  Salad and bread to go with.

One fall thing I love is stuffed acorn squash -- baking a squash, creating a filling, then putting the two together and baking some more.  There was a recipe in this month's Eating Well magazine for Curried Lentil Stuffed Squash that reminded me how much I liked this, and got me thinking about the stuffings I could make.  I think I'll steal the lentil idea, but I'll also add some turkey sausage, roasted and marinated red pepper, sauteed mushroom and onion, and some shredded parmesan cheese on top.  Or maybe feta.  Or goat cheese.  Thursday's still a long way off.  I have time to decide.

Have a great week!

Monday, August 20, 2012


So we just returned from a trip to Hawaii (Maui and Kauai).  Vacation food is always so much fun, so although our cooking was less frequent than usual (even though we were in condos with full kitchens and grills), we thought we'd share some of our Hawaiian food highlights!

We picked up this cookbook (always try to buy a regional cookbook when we go on vacation somewhere -- it's a great souvenir) and hope to use some of these recipes soon (like, we fell in love with  poke, huli huli chicken, kalua pork, and pretty much anything containing banana or pineapple).  I'll share recipes as I try them!  (And I will try them, I promise.)

Hawaii Cuisine:  A Sampler of Favorite Island Recipes by Chef Sam Choy

Restaurants we loved:

On Maui, we hit happy hour and had fabulous snacks and mai tais at 5 Palms in Lahaina.

And pineapple creme brulee for dessert.

We visited Sansei Sushi Bar and had fabulous sushi.  The sauce from our appetizer was so good we kept the plate on the table through the rest of the meal so we could keep using that sauce with other foods.

We also made sure to hit a luau (Old Lahaina Luau -- great fun), and got to try the kalua pig (loved) and poi (not so much).  And more mai tais.

We shopped a few times at The Fish Market Maui, both for ingredients for cooking in (opah, ono, shrimp, poke) and for take out for lunch (fish, shrimp and pork tacos).  We love that little place.

On Kauai, we were starting to get a bit of restaurant fatigue, so we quickly found a fish market there, and ended up with some fabulous tuna steaks and more shrimp for another home-cooked meal.

We did have a great dinner at Josselins Tapas Bar in Poipu on Kauai.  More great seafood -- ahi belly, butterfish, and (not seafood) a delicious little slider.  Realized we were hungry for burgers!

So later that week we visited Bubba's Burgers on Kauai.  And they were just what we needed.

And one of our best Maui meals happened randomly.  We were having a day of driving around, finding snorkeling spots, swimming, driving some more, finding little hiking trails...  and the chips and salsa/granola bars we packed wasn't really keeping us from wanting to chew our own arms off.  We were STARVING.  We ended up back at an overlook of Honolua Bay (a fabulous place to snorkel -- we'd been there that morning) and there was a guy selling chicken from the back of a truck.  Sketchy, maybe...  but we bought half of one, got one of our beach mats out of the trunk, and devoured that smoky grilled chicken as we watched snorkelers in the bay.  We talked about that chicken for days.

Honolua Bay -- isn't it pretty?

So, despite all the fantastic seafood we ate throughout the trip, one of our other favorite meals was another chicken place -- Chicken in a Barrel.  It caught our eye as we were driving to the north side of Kauai one day, because the name was funny.  Phil hoped it alluded to the size of a serving (like a bucket at KFC, but bigger?) but we found out it referred to the 50 gallon metal drums set up next to the road that were used as smokers.  We had a fantastic barbecue meal here -- chicken (our favorite), beef, pork, and ribs.

And I just need to mention shave ice.  I always thought it was basically a glorified Snoopy Snow Cone Machine (yes, I had one).  But it's so so so much better, though if I try to explain the difference, I can't, except to say that it has ice cream underneath.  And the flavors are so much better.  And when you're hiking 8 miles to see and swim under a gorgeous waterfall (but have to scramble over rocks for those 8 miles and your feet are exhausted and you didn't bring enough water and your chocolate in your trail mix has melted), all you can think about is a shave ice, and wish that someone with entrepreneurial spirit would set up a stand on the trail.

Mango was our favorite flavor, but this one was a mixture of tiger's blood (really, it's a combo of strawberry, pineapple, and something else) and passion fruit.  I think there's mac nut ice cream underneath, but I can't quite remember.

The whole trip was fabulous, and despite appearances, we did more than just eat...  lots of swimming, turtle stalking, hiking, and biking.  All things that make you very very hungry!

Now that we're home, it's time to eat like real people again...  harder to justify ice cream in the middle of the afternoon when you're not on vacation.

Have a great week!

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