Sunday, March 27, 2011

Meals Week 13: Friday, 3/25 through Thursday, 3/31

Friday, 3/25: Broiled Salmon, Pureed Cauliflower with Nutmeg and a Touch of Butter and Whole Wheat Bread
Verdict: For such a simple meal, it tastes like we've gone out to dinner at a nice restaurant.  I love this one! And LTH is eating more and more of the salmon each time we have it.

Saturday, 3/26: Ground Chicken Tacos with Lots of Fixings (Lettuce, Avocado, Pico de Gallo, Cilantro, Cheddar Cheese) and Salad
Verdict: The seasoning I used for the taco meat was too spicy for LTH but he enjoyed his baked sweet potatoes, cheese and stuffing his pieces of lettuce with those two items.  

Sunday, 3/27: Chicken Taco Nachos with Salad

Monday, 3/28: Leftover Pete's New Haven Style Apizza and Vegetable
Verdict: Pete's Apizza opened on Sunday and we decided to try it out.  The pizzas are huge!!!  So, we had leftovers.  I also had it for lunch on Tuesday.  Overall, it was good for their first day but the crust was a little chewy for LTH even though it is extremely thin crust pizza.

Tuesday, 3/29: Baked Chicken and Pureed Parsnips
Verdict: One of the easiest home cooked meals.  
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Peel and cut up the parsnips.  Boil for about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, heat some oil in a pan.  Add chicken pieces that have been seasoned with your favorite herbs or spices and salt and pepper.  Brown the pieces on each side.  Transfer to the preheated oven until the chicken is done.
4. Puree the parsnips once they are done cooking.
5. Enjoy!
For the chicken we were eating on Tuesday, I seasoned it with oregano.  I went ahead and seasoned 2 pieces with cumin for the BBQ chicken sandwiches we had on Wednesday.

Wednesday, 3/30: BBQ Chicken Sandwiches and Pureed Parsnips
Verdict: Extra yummy with the homemade bbq sauce and cheddar cheese on waffle toast.

Thursday, 3/31: Out of to dinner with a friend - LTH had leftovers
Verdict: I had a great time at the wine tasting and eating at Lyon Hall.  Although next time I go out to eat, it will NOT be to Lyon Hall as I've been there quite a few times.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Pizza Monkey Bread

I adapted this recipe to make this meal.  All who ate it loved it!  A few things to note for the next time I make this recipe (and I will):

  1. Make the dough pieces smaller
  2. Use more sauce
I also plan to try out other versions including Mexican Monkey Bread and Middle Eastern Monkey Bread. I'll report back once those are done.
Grated Mozzarella Cheese
Grated Parmesan Cheese

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.

Cut the pizza dough into 1/2 inch squares.  You'll see the picture below mine are too big.  I will change that next time!
Grease a Bundt or angel food cake pan well.  Dip each dough piece into the pizza sauce and then place into the pan.  You may want to add a little more sauce to the pan after putting in the first layer if the sauce does not stick to your dough very well.  Now add a layer of cheeses. Repeat until you have no more dough.  

Place in oven and cook for about 50 minutes, until it doubles in volume.  Remove from oven and then remove from the pan immediately. I added some cheese to the top of the bread so it would look the monkey bread had been glazed.  Enjoy!

New York Style Pizza Sauce (Adapted from Serious Eats)

I adapted the recipe below from the Serious Eats New York Style Pizza Sauce recipe.

1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
2 medium cloves garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon dried oregano
Kosher salt
1 medium yellow onion, peeled and split in half
1 teaspoon sugar*


Blend tomatoes in a blender until slightly chunky.  Set aside.
Combine butter and oil in medium saucepan and heat over medium-low heat until butter is melted. Add garlic, oregano, and large pinch salt and cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant but not browned, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes, onion halves, and sugar*. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to lowest setting (bubbles should barely be breaking the surface), and cook, stirring occasionally, until reduced by 1/2, about 1 hour. Season to taste with salt. Allow to cool and store in covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

* I did not need the sugar in my sauce as the tomatoes were not that acidic but some tomatoes may need it.

Pizza Dough - from Ratio by Michael Ruhlman

I have found that the Ratio cookbook's recipe is the best for me.  It requires a scale to make it as that is the whole point of the cookbook.  I would like to make it more multigrain but that will be a future project.

20 ounces bread flour
12 ounces water
1 ounce olive oil
2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon active or instant yeast

Set your mixing bowl on a scale, zero the scale and pour the flour in.  Zero the scale again and add the water.  Zero the scale again and add the oil.  Add the salt.  Sprinkle the yeast over the surface of the water to allow it to dissolve. Fit the bowl into the mixer and, using the dough hook, mix on medium speed until the dough comes together.  Continue mixing until your dough is smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes.  To test your dough, pull off a chunk and stretch it into a square.  If it's elastic enough to sallow you to achieve a translucent sheet of dough, it's ready.  If it tears before you can do this, continue mixing, either in the mixer or by hand, until the dough is smooth and elastic.

Remove the mixing bowl from the machine, cover with plastic wrap and allow the dough to rise to twice its size.  Push a finger into the dough.  The dough should give some resistance, but not spring back.  If it springs back, let it rest longer.  If you let your dough rise for too long, it will feel flabby and loose when you press a finger into it and will be less eager to rise when you bake it.

Turn the dough out onto a floured surface and knead it to expel excess gas and redistribute the yeast.  Cover with a dish towel and let rest for 10 to 15 minutes.  Shape the dough into a square for cutting into small pieces (see below for more information).  Cover the dough with a dish towel and allow to rise, or proof, for about an hour.  Or cover the dough with plastic wrap and refrigerate for up to a day; allow the bread to rise at room temperature for at least 1 1/2 hours before baking.

Meals Week 12: Friday, 3/18 through Thursday, 3/24

Friday, 3/18 - grilled housemade sausages from Whole Foods in Portuguese rolls and steamed carrots
Verdict: easy and tasty - we were having a St. Patrick's Day Brunch the next morning and I didn't want to spend too much time on dinner.

Saturday, 3/19 - living room picnic of cheese, crackers and fruit
Verdict: these were leftovers from our brunch that morning.  MTH had gone to the DC United home opener.  LTH and I had fun with a picnic on his Thomas quilt in the living room

Sunday, 3/20 - monkey bread pizza
Verdict: LTH loved this meal.  I will post the recipe soon and move these comments and the pictures below to that posting.  The main things I'd change the next time I make it are: cut the dough smaller and use more sauce.  Some other ideas I have for future savory monkey bread: Mexican monkey bread using corn meal in the dough along with cumin, chili powder, taco sauce and cheddar cheese.

Monday, 3/21 - leftover monkey bread pizza

Tuesday, 3/22 - Stovetop Macaroni and Cheese and Steamed Carrots
Verdict: As said before, like all small children, LTH loves this meal.

Wednesday, 3/23 - leftover mac and cheese, carrots and baked sweet potato

Thursday, 3/24 - Carrot Tofu Pot Stickers, Apple and Sweet Potato Fries
Verdict: These were the pot stickers that I froze a week or so ago.  They are perfect from the freezer!

Saturday, March 12, 2011


I made these for the first time today as topping for taco salad. Yummy and easy!
From How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

2-2.5 lbs boneless pork shoulder
1 T. cumin
2 bay leaves
4-5 peeled and slightly crushed garlic cloves
1 onion, quartered
Salt and pepper

Mix all ingredients in a Dutch oven. Cover with water. Bring to a boil. Lower heat such that there is a small bubble. Cover and cook for about an hour. Remove the meat, onions and garlic with a slotted spoon. Cook the liquid down. Add the meat back to the pan and fry the meat so that you get some nice browned edges. Use in tacos, taco salad or as a main dish by itself.

Tofu-Carrot Pot Stickers

Using ideas from several pot sticker recipes, I made up this recipe using items from my refrigerator.  They were yummy.  Be sure to make the dipping sauce too!  Note that you can freeze these before cooking them.  Then, cook them just as described below although the cooking times will be longer.

14 oz firm tofu, cut into small cubes
2 carrots, peeled and grated
1/4 onion, peeled and grated
1 T. toasted sesame oil
1 T. soy sauce
1 egg, lightly beaten
gyoza wrappers or egg roll wrappers cut into quarters

Mix the first six ingredients in a bowl with a potato masher.  Put a small amount of filling in the middle of each wrapper.  Using your finger, wet the outer edge of the wrapper and then fold over to make a triangle.  To cook, place a pan over medium-high heat.  Add about a tablespoon of oil.  When the oil is heated, add the pot stickers to the pan and cover for about 5 minutes.  Add 1/2 cup of water, turn to medium heat and cover for 2 minutes.  Uncover and turn to high heat until all water has been evaporated.  Enjoy with the dipping sauce below.

Dipping Sauce:
Mix together soy sauce, toasted sesame oil and vinegar to taste.

Planning Meals Week 11: Friday, 3/11 through Thursday, 3/17

Friday, 3/11: Tofu-Carrot Pot Stickers
Verdict: Taste great and as mentioned in the link above, I made over 45 more that I put into the freezer for future meals!

Saturday, 3/12: Carnitas Taco Salad
Verdict: The pork butt was a hit as a taco salad. The two pounds of meat makes a lot 
Sunday, 3/13: Date Night for MTH and MMH - Wine Tasting at Screwtop Wine Bar and Cheese Shop and Pork Dinner at Lyon Hall
Monday, 3/14: Carnitas repurposed somehow, veg
Tuesday, 3/15: Stovetop Mac and Cheese, veg
Wednesday, 3/16: Meeting - LTH will have pasta and veg or leftover mac and cheese
Thursday, 3/17: Covered hashbrown and veg

Monday, March 07, 2011

Meals Week 10: Friday, 3/4 through Thursday, 3/10

Friday, 3/4 - Salmon with sauteed spinach and garlic with veggie broth risotto
Verdict: Salmon and spinach were yummy as always.  Plus, these are simple dishes to prepare.  The salmon goes under the broiler and the spinach is wilted in a nonstick pan with some garlic and olive oil.  The veggie broth risotto is a bit more involved and was started first.  I just followed the directions on the box of risotto.  It was a nice side dish that provided leftovers for lunch on Saturday.

Saturday, 3/5 - Homemade pizza and boiled carrots with a touch of maple syrup
Verdict: Pizza is always a hit in our house.  The pizza dough is made from the recipe in the Michael Ruhlman cookbook, Ratio.  It's the best recipe I've found.  Our toppings were green peppers, pepperoni, mozzarella and capers.  LTH likes to eat the plain pizza bread with his cheese on the side.

Sunday, 3/6 - Roasted chicken, fried potatoes, pureed cauliflower and biscuits with a touch of cornmeal
Verdict: This chicken recipe is so simple.  Just rub the chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and cook on 450 degrees until the breast is 160 degrees.  I used a little too much oil on the fried potatoes.  They were very good especially if you like the patatas bravas that you can find at most tapas restaurants!  We were only missing the garlic aioli.  For the biscuits, I add a little cornmeal to the recipe in place of some of the flour.  According to Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything cookbook, you can substitute up to 10% of the flour for corn meal.  It worked!

Monday, 3/7 - Roasted chicken pizza with baked sweet potato
Verdict: LTH actually had a piece of pizza bread again but my pizza was awesome!

Tuesday, 3/8 - Chicken quesadilla and carrots and pureed cauliflower
Verdict: Quesadillas are so easy that how can I rate it anything but exceptional.

Wednesday, 3/9 - Chicken salad and sauteed broccoli with garlic
Verdict: I like chicken salad every now and then.  Also, it was a nice way to have something different from that whole chicken that I was still eating from Sunday.  I really got my money's worth out of that chicken!

Thursday , 3/10 - boxed butternut squash soup from the pantry - I can't make everything :)
Verdict: It was yummy and it was two servings so I had it for my lunch on Friday too.

Stove Top Mac and Cheese

I've made this entree so many times and have never used a recipe but I thought I'd write it down for posterity :)  My mom taught me how to make a roux for gravy when I was younger.  And, in the end, a roux can be used for many different types of sauces including cheese sauce.  If you want baked mac and cheese, all you need to do with this recipe is put it into an oven safe pan and sprinkle with your favorite toppings - bread crumbs, more cheese, etc.  You could also add other flavorings to the stove top version like bacon, red peppers, onion, garlic, the list goes on.

Unfortunately, I do not know exact measurements for this recipe as I just make it by adding the ingredients, watching how it goes together and then tasting it.

Cooked pasta
All purpose flour
Grated cheese
Worcestershire sauce

Melt 2-3 tablespoons of butter in a saucepan over medium heat.  Whisk in 2-3 tablespoons of flour.  Allow the flour to cook a few minutes in the butter.  Continue to whisk to ensure that the flour does not burn.  Add 1 cup of warmed milk to start.  Continue to whisk to keep the sauce from becoming lumpy.  If the sauce starts to thicken too much, add more milk.  The cheese will make the sauce thicker so make it a little thinner than you might think it should be.  Add the cheese and Worcestershire sauce to taste.  Once the sauce is to you liking, add to the cooked pasta.  Voila - you have stove top mac and cheese.