Sunday, December 12, 2010

And when I'm not making marshmallows, let's cook some dinner...

And for dinner this week:

Plain old roasted chicken: make a mixture of white wine vinegar, olive oil, salt, pepper, basil, a bit of garlic, rub it around under the skin of the chicken. Pop it in the oven at 400 degrees and cook 1 1/2 to 2 hours.
Roasted brussels sprouts with parmesan
Roasted sweet potato chunks


Pan-seared salmon
Lentils with roasted red pepper and balsamic vinegar
Sauteed green beans

Leftovers? Sandwiches? Maybe a salad from Panera?

Split pea and ham soup in the slow cooker:
I don't have a recipe for this, but here's what I'm thinking:
Dried peas, a chunk of ham, garlic, a jar of tomatoes, water. Toss it all in the slow cooker and let it go all day.

And next weekend?
More sugary snacks, I'm sure. Cookie season is almost here!

Holiday Treats!

So, I'm using the storm as an excuse to stay inside and start making sugary snacks. Since my favorite from last year were the s'mores with homemade marshmallows, I'm starting there. Today I made two pans of marshmallows, using Alton Brown's recipe (see below). They have to sit overnight. If we get a snowday tomorrow (fingers crossed! flushing ice cubes!), I'll dip graham cracker quarters in chocolate and press a slab of marshmallow between two. I'll sprinkle crushed candy cane on top. I bet I'll post a photo, because they're so darn pretty. (Update -- the photo's above. I realize it's incredibly similar to the photo I posted last year -- see sidebar, further down -- but I'm including another one because they're so very cute.)

Homemade Marshmallows

Recipe courtesy Alton Brown, 2007

Prep Time:
35 min
Inactive Prep Time:
4 hr 0 min
Cook Time:
10 min
approximately 9 dozen marshmallows or 1 1/2 pounds miniature


  • 3 packages unflavored gelatin
  • 1 cup ice cold water, divided
  • 12 ounces granulated sugar, approximately 1 1/2 cups
  • 1 cup light corn syrup
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 1/4 cup cornstarch
  • Nonstick spray


Place the gelatin into the bowl of a stand mixer along with 1/2 cup of the water. Have the whiskattachment standing by.

In a small saucepan combine the remaining 1/2 cup water, granulated sugar, corn syrup and salt. Place over medium high heat, cover and allow to cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Uncover, clip a candy thermometer onto the side of the pan and continue to cook until the mixture reaches 240 degrees F, approximately 7 to 8 minutes. Once the mixture reaches this temperature, immediately remove from the heat.

Turn the mixer on low speed and, while running, slowly pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl into the gelatin mixture. Once you have added all of the syrup, increase the speed to high. Continue towhip until the mixture becomes very thick and is lukewarm, approximately 12 to 15 minutes. Add the vanilla during the last minute of whipping. While the mixture is whipping prepare the pans as follows.

For regular marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Lightly spray a 13 by 9-inch metal baking pan with nonstick cooking spray. Add the sugar and cornstarch mixture and move around to completely coat the bottom and sides of the pan. Return the remaining mixture to the bowl for later use.

When ready, pour the mixture into the prepared pan, using a lightly oiled spatula for spreading evenly into the pan. Dust the top with enough of the remaining sugar and cornstarch mixture to lightly cover. Reserve the rest for later. Allow the marshmallows to sit uncovered for at least 4 hours and up to overnight.

Turn the marshmallows out onto a cutting board and cut into 1-inch squares using a pizza wheel dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining mixture, using additional if necessary. Store in an airtight container for up to 3 weeks.

For miniature marshmallows:

Combine the confectioners' sugar and cornstarch in a small bowl. Line 4 half sheet pans with parchment paper, spray the paper with nonstick cooking spray and dust with the confectioners' sugar mixture.

Scoop the mixture into a piping bag fitted with a 1/2-inch round piping tip. Pipe the mixture onto the prepared sheet pans lengthwise, leaving about 1-inch between each strip. Sprinkle the tops with enough of the remaining cornstarch and sugar mixture to lightly cover. Let the strips set for 4 hours or up to overnight.

Cut into 1/2 inch pieces using a pizza wheel or scissors dusted with the confectioners' sugar mixture. Once cut, lightly dust all sides of each marshmallow with the remaining sugar mixture and store in an airtight container for up to a week.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

December 5 - 9

It's cold out. Just wanted to point that out...

We had a tailgating day at the Lions game, so we had a lovely grilled mixture... burgers, sandwiches (ham, roast beef, cheese, honey mustard, sauteed peppers, onions, mushrooms -- put it all together, wrap it in foil and grill until everything's melty and crispy), yummy stuff like pretzels and cookies... and cocoa with buttershots. :)

Lentil and barley soup -- we had some leftovers from a few weeks back, and I froze it. All I want right now is warm things, so we're going with the soup.

Venison fajitas: saute peppers, onions, mushrooms, garlic, and thin venison strips. Add some fajita-ish spices (chipotle, cayenne, garlic, cumin) and a bit of water and simmer. Serve with warmed tortillas, salsa, avocado, shredded cabbage, sour cream.

Big ol' salad with feta and a fried egg on top

Soup: either Pasta Fagioli or Sausage/Beer/Cabbage -- we have the ingredients for both, so I'll just decide when it gets closer.

Have a good week! Stay warm!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

November 21 - 25-ish

So why is it that on the weekend before Thanksgiving, I get a crazy craving for turkey noodle soup? This one can't be acted on now... I'll just have to sit tight and wait for leftovers. But I linked the recipe now, just to share.

So I ended up with a quiet lovely morning full of coffee, pumpkin muffins, and cookbooks. I read and read and read -- books I haven't opened in a long time. In the long run, not a lot of that is showing up on the week's plan, but it gave me some long-term ideas... and a strong desire to visit Italy (thanks, Julie, for that Italian cookbook)!

Pan-seared venison chops
Roasted brussels sprouts
Squash and pumpkin risotto (from this season's issue of edible WOW. This is by Kelly Lewton-Secondino):
3c hot vegetable stock
2 tbsp butter
1 diced spanish onion
1 c Arborio rice
1 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/2 c white wine
1/2 c apple cider
pinches of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg
1/2 c butternut squash -- peeled, seeded, diced
1/2 c acorn squash puree
1/2 c pumpkin puree
2 tbsp brown sugar
1/4 c Parm cheese
1/4 c heavy cream
1 tbsp fresh sage

1. Heat stock.
2. Melt half the butter in a pan, cook onions 1 minute. Add rice, salt, pepper, cook until rice & onions translucent, stirring constantly.
3. Reduce heat to med. low, add wine, cider, spices, stir until liquid evaporates.
4. Add butternut and 1/2 c of stock, stir until evaporated. Continue to add stock and stir until evaporated.
5. Add purees and brown sugar, stirring until everything's creamy. Remove from heat.
6. Stir cheese, cream, butter and sage in.

***** RISOTTO UPDATE!*****
It was fab...u...lous. I adjusted the recipe slightly: no apple cider (didn't want to buy a half-gallon for a half-cup, and I'd never get around to drinking the rest of it), one whole cup of butternut squash and one whole cup of pumpkin puree, but no acorn squash. I also left out the brown sugar and forgot to buy fresh sage, so we used dried. It was so good. It was like macaroni and cheese for grown-ups.

Grilled cheese and veggie sandwich: grill mushrooms, tomatoes, onion, peppers. Pile in sandwich with sharp white cheddar cheese and dijon mustard. Toast it up!

Sausage, beer and cabbage soup: never got around to making this a few weeks ago, so we're trying it again.

Little pizzas on flatbread. Lovely salad to go with.

Happy Thanksgiving! I'm the appetizer and salad lady. Still working this all out, but I'm sort of a fan of healthy appetizers with veggies and stuff, so I can not feel full by the time dinner starts. So probably no bacon in the apps (sorry, Phil).

And beyond...
Turkey noodle soup. Hurray for leftovers!

Sunday, November 14, 2010

November 14 - 18

Lately, it's become painfully obvious that whatever I'm craving when I sit down to plan my menu is what ends up ALL OVER the menu. Even though my cravings last, on average, 24 minutes, I'm expecting myself (and Phil, lucky guy) to love them all week long. But it sort of works. It's just funny to look back -- two weeks ago was my "soup" phase, and last week we'll call "veggies." This week, I'd like to name the food mood "lots of chopped up things in one pan/bowl/dish together."

Fried rice:
All measurements are strictly to taste. This will make 2 servings or 8, depending on my self-control when adding stuff. Saute sliced onion, garlic, mushroom, red pepper, matchstick carrots, zucchini, frozen peas (adding one at a time). Add cooked brown rice. Add seasoning: soy sauce, chili paste, rice wine vinegar. Add shrimp, cook for a minute or so. Make a well in the middle, and add a scrambled egg. As it cooks, gently fold it in with the rice and other stuff.


Little flatbread pizza with lots of veggies and fresh mozzarella
Salad with balsamic vinegar, feta and pickled beets

Slow cooker Wednesday -- we'll start with a chuck roast, some halved potatoes, some halved onions, sliced carrot, a can of tomatoes, a bit of water, salt and pepper. Cook all day. Serve with something green (maybe beans!) and bread.

Linguine with pan-seared scallops and veggies.

Basically what it says: in a pan, saute veggies (my stand-bys are onion, garlic, mushrooms, sun-dried tomato... but by Thursday night, I'll be using anything else that's still in the fridge).

Cook whole-wheat linguine, add to veggies. Mix in pesto.

In another pan, heat olive oil, then cook scallops: about 2 minutes on the first side (for big ones) then flip them over and cook for another minute or two, until they're done.

Put the linguine with veggies on a plate, sprinkle with parm cheese. Lay scallops on one side, so you can mix them in or eat separately as desired.

Maybe salad too, if there aren't many veggies left for the pasta and I need more.

Saturday, November 6, 2010

November 7 - 11

So, I think I got my fill of soup last week for a while. Loved the buttercup squash soup, but it got some comments when I took leftovers to school... (i.e. "Are you eating a bowl of mustard?")

Only if there are pretzels for dipping.

I tried to stay away from soups this week. I'm feeling a need for a bigger variety of veggies right now, so I've got lots in the plans for this week...

Here we go:

Venison fajitas: saute a sliced onion, sliced bell pepper, mushrooms, garlic and venison steak cut into thin strips. Add a bit of water and some orange spices (things that will make it taste fajita-ish: cayenne, chipotle, a little salt and pepper) and simmer for a few minutes.

Heat tortillas, then assemble the fajitas. Top with shredded cabbage, sliced avocado, diced tomato, salsa, shredded cheese and sour cream.

Big old salad with a fried egg on top. I'm thinking I'll put some very lightly sauteed onions and mushrooms in the salad, along with some tomato, and maybe some pumpkin seeds. Balsamic vinegar for dressing. Fry an egg, lay it on top of the salad. Whole grain baguette toast for dipping.

Sauteed broccoli
Simmered canned tomatoes

Spaghetti squash with shrimp, pesto and tomato:
In a big pan, saute some sun-dried tomatoes. Add some garlic, and the spaghetti squash (already cooked and shredded -- I did that a while ago and froze it in baggies). Stir in pesto, then add shrimp and let it cook for a couple of minutes until it turns pink. Add in some greens, like spinach or arugula (I don't know which yet -- haven't been to the store). Shredded parm on top.

Veggie sandwiches:
Saute portabello mushrooms, red peppers, zucchini, onions.
Dijon mustard on whole grain baguette, add sauteed veggies, top with white cheddar. Toast in oven for 10 minutes or so.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

October 30 - November 4

So, I started making a list of things that sounded good to cook this week... and I had 4 different soups on the list. That's not a problem, is it?

I revised the list, only because I love to cook all my soups in the same big green ceramic-covered cast-iron pot, and if I was needing the pot every day, I'd have to be more timely about dealing with leftovers (couldn't just stash the whole pot in the fridge and call it good).

But there's still quite a bit of soup-type-food this week. If you're feeling souper, stop on by.

Pan-seared venison chops with a bit of sauce -- maybe some shallots and garlic sauteed in a bit of olive oil, then a little mushroom, maybe some red wine, and simmer for a few minutes, then poured over the chops.
Broccoli -- it's still going strong in the garden
Salad with blue cheese, sliced apples and sunflower seeds -- my current most-favorite food

Trick or treat! Let's have chili.
With slow-rise beer bread: love this stuff. You mix it up, let it do a very slow rise, give it a stir, let it rise again -- there's something science-y involved, like the long slow rising time makes the proteins gooshier and removes the need for kneading, or something. I just love it because it's easy. Takes a long time, but very little actual labor involved. Here's how:

Mix together 22 1/2 oz. (about 4 1/2 c)flour, 3 tbsp sugar, 2 tsp salt, 3/4 tsp instant fast-rising yeast. Pour in 1 bottle beer and 2/3 c ice water. Mix. Dough should be stiff, but add a bit more water if you need to if the dough is still dry. Coat top of dough with oil, cover bowl with plastic wrap.

1st rise: refrigerate 3 - 10 hours, then let rise at cool room temp for 12 - 18 hours. Stir once during rise if you get a chance.

2nd rise: Using a rubber spatula, lift and fold dough until mostly deflated, but don't stir. Re-oil surface, cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 4 - 24 hours, then set out at room temp. Continue the rise until dough doubles in size.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees. 20 minutes before you're ready to bake, put a heavy ovenproof pot in the oven (I use that same green cast-iron dutch oven I make my soups in) to heat it up. When it's hot, gently invert dough in to pot. It's okay if the top looks rough or bumpy. Spritz with water, then shake the pot back and forth to center the dough. Put the lid on, reduce heat to 425 degrees. Bake on lower rack for 55 minutes. Remove lid, then bake for 10 - 15 minutes longer. Cool and eat.

This recipe is from the lovely, lovely book Kneadlessly Simple.

I've been buying random squash at the farmers' market lately with no real plan for what I'll do with it. As I'm obsessing about soup right now, I thought I'd try some buttercup squash soup. Please note: every time I've typed "buttercup squash soup" I've actually spelled it "shoup" and then I have to go back and fix it.

In searching for a good recipe, I found a new blog that I love: Here's their recipe:

Another dangerous thing: I belong to a recipe exchange group on Facebook, so I'm frequently confronted with delicious-sounding things when I open my laptop. This one was posted by an elementary-school friend, and endorsed by another... Thanks, Heidi!

North Woods Wild Rice Soup
1/2 lb bacon
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 cup celery
1/4 cup butter
3 T flour
1/2 t. salt
1/2 t. thyme
1/2 t. paprika
1 1/2 cups cooked chicken breast, cubed or shredded
1-10oz. can chicken broth
1 T worcestershire sauce
2 T cooking sherry
1 c milk
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 1/2 cups wild rice

Fry, drain and crumble bacon; set aside. Prepare rice as indicated on directions, if it has a flavor packet with it, do not use. Saute onion and celery in butter until tender. Stir in the flour, salt, thyme, and paprika. Heat until bubbly. Add cooked chicken, chicken broth, worcestershire sauce, cooking sherry, milk and half and half, stirring until thickened. Add in rice and bacon. when soup is bubbly it is ready to serve.

I'm guessing leftover soup.

Either more soup, or we'll grill some salmon. Maybe there will be barbecue sauce. With potatoes. And a veggie of some kind, perhaps broccoli.

Have a souper week! Hee hee.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

The Kitchen Is Open

Apparently, I've mentioned the phenomenon of cupboard doors being mysteriously left open a little too often. Here's what I came home to recently:

October 24 - 28

It's cold and blustery, so I want to cook cozy stews and soups and hang out at home all evening smelling them, but this week is parent-teacher conference week, and so I will instead be driving home at a time of night that should be reserved exclusively for pajamas and the couch.

So I'm going to make a pot of stand-by soup, not for any particular meal, but just in case I need a comfort-food infusion.

Grandma Goodall's Cabbage Soup
My grandma always had some of this soup cooking, or stashed in the fridge. I think it's actually Weight Watchers soup -- she went as long as I can remember -- and it might have 0 points or 1 point or something. I don't really know, but I think she liked it because she could eat as much of it as she wanted...

So I started with her original recipe (hand-written for me on a white index card) but I'm messing with it a little bit, because I just can't leave well enough alone:

In a big stockpot, saute:
one chopped onion
a cup or a handful of sliced mushrooms
a few cloves of chopped garlic

Then add:
2 c chopped cabbage
2 jars canned tomatoes
2 c water
1 c chopped green beans
1 c chopped carrots
1 c chopped celery
1 can garbanzo beans

to taste:
Worcestershire sauce

Simmer for an hour or two.

What Else?
So, outside of the emergency soup, not a lot of plans for this week. But here's what we've got:

roasted brussels sprouts
baked sweet potato


Little pizzas made on Naan with pizza sauce, mozzarella, and yummy veggies and chicken sausage.

And there will probably be an emergency Dairy Queen run at some point. Just guessing. When I get tired, my defenses evaporate.

Have a good week!

Sunday, October 10, 2010


Just had to share about some yummy muffins. I decided to make some, for the following two reasons:
1. Bananas getting old
2. My recent and frequent urge to swing by Panera, Starbucks or Big Apple Bagel on the way to work. I need baked goods at home.

Found this recipe for peanut butter banana bread. I made muffins instead. I followed the recipe exactly, but reduced the cooking time to 25 minutes. It gave me 18 generous muffins, with some batter left over for tasting. Yes, I eat raw batter. No, I haven't died yet.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Lovely Lovely October... 9 - 14

Oh, it's gorgeous out right now. Makes me sad that I started putting all my summery clothes away two weeks ago -- I'll hang on to these warm-weather days any old way that I can.

So you know we'll be grilling this week. How could we not? But there will also be soup... I love soup.

Burgers on the grill... Phil puts all kinds of stuff in the burger: minced garlic, little bits of onion, salt and pepper, Worcestershire, a splash of Jack Daniel's, if we have some, a bit of cayenne or Old Bay for some kick.
We'll roast sweet potato slices in the oven, all french fry style so we can dip them in catsup.
Grilled veggies on the side. Maybe skewer some mushrooms and onions and zucchini and red pepper, maybe a foil packet of green beans or broccoli with garlic.

broccoli, steamed in a bit of chicken broth
(The broccoli in our garden is doing SO well right now! I just have to remember to go out and pick it before it gets dark at night. And I won't go into a lot of detail, but this past week we had an unpleasant reminder of WHY I NEED TO SOAK THE BROCCOLI IN SALT WATER BEFORE I COOK IT. Because eeewwww.)

Veggie enchiladas: This is based on my mom's enchilada technique, so I don't claim any kind of authenticity at all. But it's yummy:
1. Chop and saute a bunch of veggies: onion, mushroom, zucchini, broccoli (soaked!), garlic, tomato, bell pepper... whatever looks good. Can be as basic as mushroom-onion-zucchini.
2. Season them appropriately, add some water, and simmer for a little bit. I add a mixture of orange-colored spices: some chili powder, maybe a tiny bit of cayenne, maybe some ground chipotle.
3. Add some canned, drained and rinsed black beans. Simmer until heated through.
4. For the enchilada-creating, I do it like mom showed me: Pour some salsa in a glass baking dish. Fill a tortilla with the above mixture. Close, and nestle in the pan. I sometimes use toothpicks to keep the wrappers closed -- I tend to over-fill. Repeat until pan is full or mixture is gone. Pour more salsa over the top, spreading it around so it gets between the enchiladas. If you have any extra sauteed veggies, you can sprinkle these over everything too.
5. Pop the whole thing in the oven at about 400 degrees. This just needs to cook until the edges of the tortillas get a bit brown and crispy, but we still need some cheese on top, so after about 15 minutes, pull them out and sprinkle grated cheese (your choice, but I like a nice sharp cheddar) then return to oven until cheese is melty and a little bit browned in spots, 5 or 10 more minutes.
6. Serve with a bit of sour cream for dipping.

Linguine with mussels (from The Healthy Kitchen, by Andrew Weil and Rosie Daley):
I'm chopping their recipe in half-ish.

1. Cook linguine.
2. In a big lidded pot, add some white wine (a cup or so), a bit of water (1/2 cup), chopped garlic and a chopped shallot. Add a pound of cleaned mussels. Cover and cook over high heat, shaking the pot occasionally, until the mussels open -- about 10 minutes.
3. Drain pasta, toss it in the pot with the mussels.
4. Add a can of chopped tomatoes, some chopped basil, chili flakes, olive oil, season with salt and pepper. Toss again.
5. Squeeze lemon juice over everything. If you're fancy, you can garnish with fresh parsley. I won't, because I never have parsley around when I need it.

We'll have a salad and some bread with this.

A big salad. Probably with the following: roasted red pepper, roasted pumpkin seeds, mushrooms, onions, feta cheese, balsamic dressing. If I'm in the mood, I'll fry an egg and put it on top of the whole thing.

This is a lovely fall meal.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

For Rachel

I heard Rachel is excited about canning. This is my favorite thing to put in jars. It comes from a beautiful book on preserving food called Well Preserved by Eugenia Bone.

Marinated Red Bell Peppers (fabulous on salad, pizza, pasta, sandwiches...)
This is a canning recipe for water bath canning.

4 lbs red bell peppers (8 to 10 medium), stems snipped off
1 c bottled lemon juice
2 c white wine vinegar with 5% acidity
1 c olive oil
2 medium garlic cloves, sliced (but, frankly, I add a lot more!)
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

Roast the peppers. Bone suggests this: Place the oven rack about 7 inches from the broiler and preheat the broiler. Place the peppers on a baking sheet and char them under the broiler, turning them often with tongs so that they blister all over, about 20 minutes. Let the peppers stand until cool enough to handle. Remove the charred skin, cut the peppers in half, and remove the seed pods.

Here's how I do it: Put the peppers on the grill to char the skin. Turn so all sides get charred and blistered. Put them in a paper sack and roll the top closed. This seems to help them steam a bit and loosen the skin more. I remove the skins under running water -- it seems to help get the sticky parts off while I rub at it with my fingers.

After they're skinned, do this:

1. Combine lemon juice, vinegar, olive oil, garlic and salt in a saucepan and heat just to boiling over medium heat.
2. Have ready 3 scalded pint jars and their bands. (To scald, simply dip the jars in boiling water. You don't need to sterilize the jars, as you will be processing them for over 10 minutes.)
3. Simmer new lids in a small pan of water to soften the rubberized flange.
4. Pack the peppers into the jars and pour the marinade over them. Using a butter knife, pop any air bubbles in the jars.
5. Distribute the garlic slices evenly between the jars.
6. Be sure to leave 1/2 to 3/4 inch of headspace in the jars, or your seal might fail -- peppers puff up some during the water bath process, and if there isn't enough space for the air to be pushed out of the jar by the heat, the pressure will push oil as well and the seals won't stick.
7. Wipe the rims, place on the lids, and screw the bands on fingertip tight.
8. Process the peppers in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes. The boiling water must cover the tops of the lids the whole time, so keep an eye on things. If it doesn't, you need to stop timing until you add new water and get it re-boiling, then start timing again.
9. After 15 minutes, turn off the heat and let the jars sit for 5 minutes, then remove from water and let them sit 4 - 6 hours. Check the seals and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

September 18 - 23

We cooked a duck!

Bought a duck this summer from our CSA. I was a little intimidated, especially when many people I told either said, "Why would you cook a duck?" or "I hear duck is really hard to cook." Hmmmmm. So we went to Julia Child and she told us what to do, and of course it involved using the majority of utensils we own.

But last night we cooked the duck. It had good flavor but was kind of chewy, so I have mixed feelings about it. We all survived, so I guess I consider it a success!

And with that, here's the plan for the rest of the week. Nothing else from a Julia Child cookbook...

Roast duck stuffed with sausage and apples
Roasted potatoes

Chili! It's cool, and there's football on. So how could we not?
We'll probably make it with a mixture of ground buffalo and sausage.
Mozzarella cornbread -- bought some at the farmers' market a few weeks back, tossed it in the freezer, and re-discovered it yesterday. It was the real reason for the chili today -- I wanted to eat it and had to think of something that would go with it.

Whole wheat linguini with pomodoro sauce (got this recipe from Runner's World -- not my usual go-to for cooking tips, but this sounded lovely!)

Grilled ribeye
sauteed mushrooms and onions
grilled mixed veggies (chop tomatoes, zucchini, baby eggplant, onion, add olive oil, salt and pepper, wrap in foil and put on top rack of grill for a 20 or 30 minutes)

Fajitas! Saute thin slices of venison steak, mushrooms, bell pepper, onion. Add some spicy spices (cayenne, cumin, garlic salt) and a bit of water and simmer down. Put in warmed tortillas and top with tomato, salsa, sour cream, etc.

Fried rice: Saute sliced red onion, red bell pepper, shiitake mushroom, matchstick zucchini, broccoli. Add cold cooked brown rice. Add some shrimp. Season with soy sauce and chili paste. At the end, make a well in the middle of the pan and scramble an egg or two. When they're cooked, gently fold them in with the rest of the rice.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

September 12 - 16

I planned this week's menu in the middle of my canning-palooza... I get a batch of tomato jars cooking, then have 40 minutes to kill before I go back and do it all over again. Trying to tackle a whole bushel this year. That's a lotta tomatoes.

So probably not much in the way of tomatoes for dinner this week. I'm thinking I'll need a break. But I'm loving the cooler weather (though I don't want it to get too cold too fast) and am ready for soup!

Our fall-ish menu for the week:
And happy NFL, by the way! Yahoo for football Sundays!

Veggie beef soup: we have a big old soup bone, and we'll brown that then put it in a pan and build around it. I'm reserving the right to make a game-time decision, but now I'm thinking: saute an onion, brown the soup bone, add some water, simmer. Add other good stuff (carrots? potatoes? garlic? tomatoes? okay -- I know I said I wouldn't use them this week, but it's soup. It needs them. What else? Maybe some chopped zucchini? I don't know. Maybe some barley?).

This will need crusty bread, I think.

Mushroom ravioli with onions and basil and parmesan

Grilled sole: lay it out on foil, coat with olive oil, salt and pepper, and sprinkle capers all around. Grill until the thin edges get a little brown and crispy and lovely.
With it: roasted pattypan squash, bread

Probably a good day for leftovers -- soup, or ravioli, or if there aren't any leftovers, little flatbread pizzas will be nice, done on the grill with mushrooms, basil, sausage, feta...

Fall means lentils!
Venison chops, pan-seared then a little bit of red wine and garlic and salt and pepper added for a little sauce
Lentils: cook them, add some sliced roasted red pepper and balsamic vinegar

Yum. I'm hungry NOW.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Dinner... the Back To School edition

School starts this week. Need I say more?

Trying to stick with the Meatless Monday idea, but knowing that when we come home from up north, pizza is usually on the menu... so I planned ahead a bit, and made sure we had stuff for salad:

Saute half a red onion, a handful of sliced mushrooms, a sliced red pepper and a few green beans in some olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Add to a big bowl of lettuces. Dress with balsamic vinegar. Mix. Add shredded Parmesan cheese. Top with a fried egg if you wish.

Some toasted baguette on the side.


I don't cook on the first day of school. So I don't know what we'll eat, but I know I won't be preparing anything. Maybe it will be red wine and dark chocolate.


BLTs: I like mine with mustard instead of mayo. Is that bad?
Fruit salad


boiled baby potatoes
whatever veggies have ripened in the garden during the last week...

Sunday, August 22, 2010

August 22 - 26

Oh, it's happening already... this week, I spend pretty much every day in school-related meetings and such. And so the zombie-like state of sitting in meetings all day will be encasing my head in the evenings. So the key word is simple.

We were up north this weekend, and so dinner tonight was take-out from our newest pizza place -- Happy's Pizza. The main focus tonight is unpacking the car and making sure there's clean, appropriate clothes available for the week.

Monday - Thursday

I haven't worked out the schedule for the week yet, but these are the options. We'll see how the week goes to decide when to have what:
a. Portobella mushroom ravioli (got it at the farmer's market a few weeks ago, and it's been waiting in the fridge. It came from Pasta e' Pasta, from Chesterfield, MI.)
b. Burgers. Alan and Rachel made some with pretzel rolls a few weeks back, and posted a photo on their blog. I've been craving pretzel rolls ever since, and so bought some and stuck them in the freezer so we'd have them around for times like this!
c. Mesquite Creek: Phil's newspaper ran a 2 for 1 coupon, and it expires soon. So we hope to get out there sometime this week and eat some yummy dinner.
d. Using-up-random-veggies-from-the-garden salad. Need I say more? Maybe there will be bread with it.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

August 15 - 19

Since I'm sort of heading back to school this week (I plan to go in, drop off some stuff, measure my new area and then leave quickly again) I figured I should sort of head back into dinner routines too. We've found that, lately, planning on the fly means lots of little pizzas made on naan. Lovely, but something that's becoming more of a stand-by and less of a little treat.

Here's what I'm thinking for my sort-of plan:

Grilled chicken breasts with barbecue sauce
Salad with sauteed mushrooms and roasted red pepper (I have about half a jar left of my original batch from last summer... The green and purple peppers are all over the farmers' markets right now, so I know the red ones should be here soon. Then I can make some more. Much more. For now, I need to be okay with finishing this last jar.)
Corn on the cob

Chilled tomato soup (from Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool):
3 lbs ripe, juicy tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1 medium red onion, coarsely chopped
1 c basil leaves
1/4 c olive oil
juice of 1/2 lemon
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground turmeric
sugar (optional)

Puree veggies and basil until smooth. Strain if you wish for a more refined soup. Add oil, juice, cumin, turmeric. Season w/ salt, pepper, sugar to taste. Chill.

With this, we'll have roasted corn and goat cheese quesadillas. Like a summer version of tomato soup and grilled cheese.

Huevos Rancheros. We'll add some chorizo to the beans.

Fenton Farm Market is today. I'll probably just cook some of what I buy there. I'm betting a salad will be involved.

Have a good week!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Crazy Carrots!

Went to pick more of the crazy carrots yesterday. We have so many this year! I went to, a great site that has directions for preserving all kinds of stuff, to get confirmation that you can, in fact, freeze carrots... and then I opened my birthday present: a Food Saver!

I documented the whole experience:

Some of the crazy carrots I picked

I think they might be mutants

G0 Food Saver Go! There is NO air left in that package. I plan to vacuum-seal all kinds of things...

Monday, August 9, 2010

A tiny little bit of a menu

It is August, after all. So we can't plan too far in advance. But we sat down yesterday and made a 2 day plan, which felt very organized of us.

Sunday night dinner:

Venison burgers (with minced garlic and onion, chile sauce, salt and pepper mixed in) with sauteed mushrooms and onions on top
Corn on the cob (from our garden! First two ears! Woot woot!)
Crazy cole slaw...

I wanted some baby carrots from the garden. Love to saute them, they're so tiny and sweet. But I've been gone for a few weeks, and the carrots have gone mutant on us in that time. So I was pulling some really big carrots, some person-shaped carrots, some zig-zag shaped carrots -- not the sweet little things I could easily saute whole. So we thought on our feet, and shredded the carrots, a zucchini, and half an onion. We got some broccoli from the garden and chopped it really small, then mixed it all together with some mayo, white balsamic vinegar, sugar, salt and pepper. It was a pretty good cole slaw!

Salad with sliced red onion, red bell pepper and grilled scallops. I think I'll grill a couple peaches too, but not sure whether I'll put them on the salad or just have them as a side dish.

And yummy bread.

So there's our mini-plan. I like it.

Monday, July 12, 2010

The Theme: Ways to Use Cucumbers

So our cukes and zucchini have stepped up, big time. So planning meals isn't so much about what sounds good right now, but rather how to we incorporate these little buggers into everything we eat???

A couple ideas:

Just made a salad for lunch. Cut a cuke into four spears, then cut the spears into slices. Put in a bowl. Chop up a little roasted red pepper, drizzle some balsamic, and sprinkle roasted pumpkin seeds. Mix it up. It was really quite lovely!

Gonna try gazpacho for the first time. I've been looking at recipes, and I think this is the one I might go with:
or maybe this one:
or heck, maybe both! :)

Monday, June 28, 2010

And now... an actual plan.

School's over, camping trip's over -- no excuses left for the seat-of-our-pants dining of the past month. We made a plan this week, and we're quite proud of it!

Broiled sole (bit of olive oil, salt and pepper, sprinkle some capers, broil until tiny edges start to get brown and crispy, then a drizzle of lemon juice right at the end)
Salad -- the lettuce in the garden is still going strong! With a bit of roasted red pepper (just opened my last jar from last fall's canning extravaganza), feta and balsamic
Green beans -- first ones of the year from the garden! Hot olive oil in a hot pan, toss the beans in, give them a toss every few minutes. They get lovely little brown spots on them. Salt and pepper.

Pasta with zucchini (first of the year from the garden! It's quite a week.), scallops, basil, and Parmesan cheese

Chicken -- we'll grill one on the rotisserie, if the weather cooperates.
Random veggies for sides

Chicken salad -- the reason we made that chicken yesterday. Here's what we put in:
Chop chicken, celery, red onion, red bell pepper, mushrooms. Grate some carrot. Add some capers and frozen peas. Add some whole wheat penne pasta. Flavor it all up with some white wine Worcestershire and mayo. Mix and chill.

Lamb burgers
Cole slaw
sliced cucumber

Sunday, June 27, 2010

True Confessions of a Road Trip Eater

So we came out of the woods on a grueling, rainy Friday. Checked into a hotel, showered and warmed up, then headed out for a lovely dinner. All was fine.


I woke up Saturday morning VERY early and VERY hungry. Something about the first recovery day after lots and lots of exertion. And just as my co-paddlers insisted I post our camping meals (see below), they also requested that I post my food exploits of Saturday.

7 a.m.: Free breakfast at the hotel. We planned to meet for real breakfast at 9:00, so I just snuck down for coffee and a lovely local donut. Not a big donut girl, but this was GOOD.

8:45 am: Back for second breakfast. Figured we'd get there a bit early to save seats for Alan and Rachel. Donuts were gone, but I had yogurt, an orange, bagel with cream cheese, and more coffee. And a sausage.

11:30 am: Found the donut store where the really good donuts came from. Had a sugared cake donut. Others were able to save theirs for later. Me -- not so much.

Phil and Rachel liked the donut place too.

1:00 pm: Stopped at a gas station. Stocked up on bottled water, diet coke, and Doritos. In the car over the next two hours, grazed on Doritos, pita chips, artichoke dip (from a really good organic co-op in Grand Marais) and cherries (from the co-op as well).

3:30 pm: Onion rings from Burger King.

7:30 pm: Culver's for dinner. Never been before, so I just copied Alan, who seemed to be quite familiar with the place: Bacon cheeseburger, fries, and a peanut butter cup blizzard (or whatever they call them there). I know. It pains me to type it.

Does it count for anything that I couldn't finish my ice cream?

Camping Dinners

So, I don't usually post about meals AFTER a week of eating, but we've been canoeing in the Boundary Waters in Minnesota for the last week, and my co-paddlers (Phil, Rachel and Alan) insisted I share our meals.

Our limitations: no perishables, no cooler, and limited dishes (we each had a bowl, a cup, and a spork. We also had a bigger frying pan, and some tinfoil.) We did have a grill grate bolted into each campsite, so we could cook on that. And of course, our trusty JetBoil -- hot water in 90 seconds!

This is me cooking beef stroganoff -- heating the water in the little JetBoil, then pouring it into the bag. Love my kitchen facilities!

Our meals:
Sunday: Lasagna in a bag, from Backpacker's Pantry. Tasted like lasagna, but pourable. Rachel couldn't watch the pouring part. We had to deal with lots of little cheese bits -- tough to wash.

Monday: Quesadillas! This is becoming a backpacking favorite:
Pack tortillas and Babybel cheeses (they're wrapped in wax, so they were basically fine after 2 days on the trail). Mix up some seasonings in a ziploc baggie before heading out as well.
Dehydrate a bag of frozen peppers and onions.
Purchase some dehydrated mushrooms.
Purchase a 7 ounce foil pack of chicken (the kind that is by the tuna fish in the grocery store).

1. Rehydrate the veggies by pouring boiling water over them, letting them sit in a bowl for an hour or two. Cover with frying pan or another bowl.
2. When rehydrated, mix veggies, chicken, and spices in pan and simmer over fire.
3. Slice cheese into thin pieces.
4. Put tin foil on grill grate, big enough to fold over and over both sides of quesadilla.
5. Lay one tortilla on foil, then spread 1/4 of veggies and chicken and several pieces of cheese. Cook over fire for a minute, then put other tortilla on top. Wrap other half of foil over top of top tortilla (note: clean wool socks make GREAT oven mitts here). When it's time to flip, just grab the foil and flip the whole thing. When both tortillas are crispy and cheese is melted, remove from heat and cut up. Make another one.

Thai night! Vegetarian pad thai and Beef Satay with rice (both are just-add-boiling-water-and-wait-fifteen-minutes meals). Same as lasagna -- the flavors were there, but it just looked a little different. But peppery.

Beef stroganoff and Jamaican jerk chicken -- bagged meals, again.
Blueberry cheesecake for dessert -- from a bag, but Alan found 4 ripe wild blueberries growing at our campsite (most were still green) so we had some fresh flavor too!

BIG dinner...
Dehydrated ground venison, dehydrated mixed veggies (a frozen bag of carrots/peas/corn)
Powdered mashed potatoes mixed with a little powdered milk, garlic powder, parsley, and Bacos
Powdered gravy packet

Rehydrate the meat and veggies (see quesadillas, above)
Simmer over the fire.
Portion potato mixture out into bowls, add a little hot water to each and mix.
Put meat and veggies on top, then top it all off with gravy.

This meal was huge. It's huge every time we've made it... I always feel stuffed for hours afterwards. We think maybe the potatoes continue to expand in our stomachs.

And a breakfast note...
Rachel and Alan made awesome breakfast burritos when Phil and I were out fishing one morning. They used leftover tortillas and cheese from the quesadillas, and some packs of powdered eggs. They were grilled and lovely. So so good!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

What are we having for dinner?

Not much this week at all. Last week of school, you know...

Looking forward to summer cooking, though. So so so much.


Sunday, May 23, 2010

May 23 - 27

Oh, it's in that wild end-of-the-school-year time, when Dairy Queen for dinner (not after dinner, not with dinner -- for dinner) suddenly becomes totally acceptable. And yet, I know that planning ahead makes life easier, and removes the last-minute decision making (should I make a salad, or just drive out for a Cappuccino Heath Blizzard?). So I'm planning ahead. Wish me luck!

Phil's hankering for ribs. We had two little packs in the freezer: one of pork spare ribs, the other lamb ribs. So we're doing a combo. The lovely Marnie gave us the recipe below. We'll also make coleslaw and saute some corn with red pepper and onion.


1 1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp pepper
3 lbs pork ribs
1 tbsp chili or veggie oil
1 onion, finely chopped
6 scallions, chopped
3 garlic cloves, chopped
2 tsp finely chopped ginger
1 red chili, chopped
1 tbsp chopped cilantro
1 tbsp chopped parsley
1 tbsp sweet sherry
1 1/2 tbsp brown sugar
4 tbsp chinese chili bean sauce
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp rice wine
1 tbsp sherry vinegar
1/3 cup orange juice (or a little more)
2 1/2 tbsp soy sauce

preheat oven to 475. Combine salt, paprika and pepper in a baking dish then add the ribs. Turn them in dish to coat well. Cook in center oven for 1 3/4 - 2 hours, then remove, lift ribs and drain off fat and set aside.

Heat oil in skillet. Add onion, scallions, garlic, ginger, and chili - stir fry over high heat 1 min. Add herbs, sherry, sugar, chili bean sauce, tomato paste, rice wine, vinegar, orange juice, and soy sauce. Stir in large pinch of salt and season well with pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat and let simmer for 15-20 mins, stirring occasionally.

To BBQ ribs, coat them in the sauce, then grill over hot coals for 7-10 mins on each side, or until cooked through, turning them frequently and basting with more sauce as necessary.


Fried rice with scallops: One of my favorite random things dinners!

Saute onion, thin-sliced carrots, celery, red pepper, mushrooms, broccoli, whatever. Add some scallops, cook quick. Add cold brown rice. Pour in some soy sauce, chile paste with garlic. Heat and eat!

Pizzas on Naan flatbread (I'm thinking fresh mozzarella, basil, onion, other yummy stuff)
Sliced tomatoes with balsamic drizzled atop

Nachos with pork and pinto beans
(Got the idea from this recipe, but will probably veer quite a bit from it. But you get the idea)

Emu steaks (marinate in Worchestershire, garlic, ginger, pepper, olive oil, then grill hot and quick)
yummy sourdough bread

Have a lovely week! I promise to try to limit my ice cream to dessert only!

Monday, May 17, 2010

May 16 - 20

I'm a little obsessed with extra-crunchy peanuts from Costco. I just can't stop eating them.

And in dinner news...

A grilled dinner (less dishes that way!):
Sliced sweet potato, wrapped in foil with olive oil, grilled
Broccoli (in a foil packet on the grill)

Swiss steak-style venison:
In a slow cooker, put browned venison steaks, 2 onions large-chopped, 4 cloves of garlic, one package of mushrooms, a cup of water, a sprinkle of salt and pepper. Cook all day.

Sauteed green beans

Broiled cod, maybe with spicy spices

A big ol' salad with grilled veggies: portobello mushrooms, bell peppers, Vidalia onion. Also, feta cheese and balsamic dressing. Mmmmm...

A lovely omelet with feta and tomato and onion. Delicious salad to go with. This dinner just screams for a lovely chilled white wine.

Have a lovely week!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

May 2 - 6

Happy May! Here's dinner (the theme this week is simple, simple simple, because May is always crazy, crazy, crazy):

Flatbread pizzas (naan bread, sauce, random toppings... onion, mushroom, roasted red pepper, artichoke, spinach, maybe some chicken pesto sausage if there's any left in the freezer, mozzarella)
sliced tomato with balsamic vinegar drizzled (I know it's not actual tomato season yet, but I'm getting antsy)

sweet potato fries

Salad with grilled venison strips, blue cheese, sliced pears and balsamic viniagrette
Good bread

Catfish tacos (I'm thinking a bit of cornmeal breading and light frying of the catfish, but the rest of the taco is the way we usually do it... lots of other taco-ey type stuff stacked in a tortilla)

Salad with a fried egg on top

Have a lovely week!

Thursday, April 29, 2010


We're using the scallops tonight. Banana pancakes just didn't sound good. It's so sunny and lovely, so we're making a beautiful salad instead. And scallops with barbecue sauce.

Just wanted to share the scallop news.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

April 25 - 29

I'm ready to eat stuff that's fresh-grown... I keep checking the secret asparagus spots, but it's still a little too early, I think. Our rhubarb has come up, though, so I found a recipe we can use for dinner. Yay for the first home-grown produce of the season!

Lamb chops with strawberry rhubarb sauce (this comes from the book Simply Organic by Jesse Ziff Cool): rub some lamb chops with garlic, rosemary, salt, pepper. Let them sit. In a pan, saute some chopped red onion, then add some thinly sliced rhubarb, then some balsamic, then some sliced strawberries, sugar, and nutmeg. Simmer. Broil the chops, then serve with the sauce.

We'll also have mashed potatoes and steamed broccoli.

The 8 minute dinner:
Venison chops: super-quick sear/saute in a pan, just a bit of salt and pepper

Pasta with zucchini, mushrooms and tomato sauce

Grilled sole with capers and olive oil -- do it on a piece of foil, and it gets sort of browned and crispy and lovely, then sprinkle a little lemon juice right at the end.

Banana pancakes (with a shout-out to Alan and Rachel, who introduced us to this wonderful, wonderful thing)
turkey sausage

And for the weekend...
As of now, the paper says rain for next weekend. So already I'm thinking big pot of weekend soup. With actual soup bones, and hours of simmering, and stuff like that. If the forecast changes, the plans might change too. But for now, that's what we're going with...

Sunday, April 18, 2010

April 18 - 22

The Big Scallops Confession:
Scallops seem to show up quite a bit in the plans. They're yummy, they're quick, it doesn't take much planning to thaw them out... so I usually plan to have them on a night when I know things will be rushed. I feel the need to confess that I've planned to use the same bag of scallops about five times, and haven't yet. Last week we planned them with salad. But by Wednesday, we were out of anything green and leafy that could be used to make salad. So we went out.

But someday, someday, I will use those scallops. Promise.

So here's the plan for this week (but if we run out of green leafy things earlier than we thought, all bets are off!):

Pan-Seared Shrimp and Arugula Risotto: This will be my first try at making risotto. I'm excited but a little nervous. It seems like a high-maintenance food -- all that stirring. Hence, we're giving it a go on a Sunday, when we'll have a bit more time.

Pork tacos: simmer a pork steak in spicy taco-ish spices and some water, maybe add some sauteed onions, peppers and garlic, then put in a tortilla and top with all the usual taco suspects: diced tomato, lettuce, salsa, avocado, etc.

Omelet with spinach, onion, red bell pepper, mushroom, and canned salmon. Yummy bread and salad to go with.

Gnocci with spicy Italian turkey sausage and tomato sauce
Salad (if we have any left!)

Lo mein-ish noodles with venison steak, broccoli, onion, carrot, celery, bell pepper, garlic, etc.
Saute all the veggies, cut the venison into thin strips and add that to the saute. Add some cooked noodles (I have some rice noodles I'll probably use), and my favorite chile paste with garlic to make everything spicy and wonderful. Soy sauce and maybe a little rice vinegar. Stir it all in, give it a taste and adjust the seasonings. This makes lovely leftovers, so lunch on Friday will be a happy thing.

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