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!

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