Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Flashback:
Plan Your Meals!

Newer readers of Meals with the McRackans may not have been exposed to the older articles, so I thought I would highlight this one from January 2009 on the benefits of meal planning. Even if your life is not so predictable that you can plan dinner every night, just planning a few meals a week can really make a difference! 

Benefits of Meal Planning:

• Healthy Mind – no more last-minute stress of what to make
• Healthy Meals – plan healthy meals and avoid last-minute unhealthy options
• Healthy Bank Account – keep your grocery budget down by not buying what you aren’t going to use

Healthy Mind

Frequently, I’ve heard complaints of the mental stress that comes on the drive home, rushing to figure out what to make for dinner. Then, just when you have it figured out, you get home to find an ingredient missing. Planning meals means you don’t have to worry anymore – just drive home, decompress from your day, and then start making dinner, never having worried about what to make.

Healthy Meals

Planning meals allows for healthier choices. Unfortunately, the easiest last-minute dinner choices are not typically healthy choices. Pizza, mac and cheese, hot dogs, pre-packaged meals, frozen dinners, and take-out are easy as can be … and they will work against your weight loss plans!

You don’t have to become a chef – many healthy meals are easy to make, too. It’s really about making small changes, choosing healthier options. And having a plan enables these choices, because you’re not pressed at the last minute. Steam, broil, or bake your foods – don’t fry. Use fresh ingredients. Choose lean meat. Drain off the fat. Opt for light dressing instead of regular. But most importantly, have a plan. Take the time to choose healthy meals for the week, then stick to that plan.

Healthy Bank Account

You’ve probably heard it said, “Never go to the grocery store hungry.” Well, I’ll add another rule, “Never go to the grocery store without a plan.” We’ve all been there – slimy, scary produce in the refrigerator, bought and never used. Or meat defrosted and then forgotten. Deli meat/cheese you never used up before it went bad. If you plan your meals, these kinds of events will happen less, guaranteed.

Maybe you already use a grocery list – good for you! That’s a great step to take. Just be sure what’s on the list is really what you’ll need – and then stick to it. Don’t purchase perishable items that aren’t part of the plan. And don’t purchase unhealthy snacks! This will help you toward a healthier body and a healthier account balance.

Another Benefit of Planning

Have you ever had a recipe call for just one tablespoon of tomato paste, just a bit of cream, a single stalk of celery, or just a portion of any fresh vegetable? What do you do with the rest of it? Some items can be frozen for future use, but not all. When you make your menu plan, you can plan multiple meals using that same ingredient so none goes to waste.

What if my Plans Change?

If you frequently have to change your plans, causing you to not have dinner at home, be sure to plan at least one meal per week that can drop off the menu without repercussions.

For example, have a pasta meal planned at least one night per week. I think the easiest “droppable” meal is pasta; the unused dry pasta & jar/can of sauce will keep for another week just fine. What about the meat? Well, hopefully you'll know the night before not to take it out of the freezer. If it's still fresh, just go ahead and freeze it. 

Need Ideas?

There’s many websites dedicated to helping you find new recipes. My own site,, has a category for “easily removed from the menu” as well as for "easy," “healthy,” and many other categories of recipes. Feel free to add your own recipes to the site, too!

If you have meal-planning advice to share, just leave a comment so others may benefit from your experience.

This article was originally posted January 30, 2009. 

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

MENU Thu 7/29 - Tue 8/3

Loving the Summer Produce!

Only another day or so of my sister and her boyfriend being in town, then it's back to regularly scheduled life. I will miss them!! They are, however, leaving me with a fabulous recipe for corn chowder (I'll share it in a future post).

In this week's delivery from The Produce Box, I received:

  • 6 peaches
  • 4 large tomatoes
  • Personal watermelon
  • 5 ears of corn
  • 24oz bottle Muscadine grape cider

The newsletter that comes with The Produce Box contains great recipes, using (of course!) produce that's in season. All those recipes can be found on Just Right Menus, updated weekly. This week's new recipes will be posted by tomorrow morning... I got my box and newsletter late today, so I'm a bit behind!

Please share any peach tea recipes you have - I'm experimenting!

Here's the Week's Menu:

THU 7/29 - Appetizer: Fresh Melon Salsa. Puerco Pibil, boiled red potatoes (sliced thinly to serve). 

FRI 7/30 - Okra and Shrimp, which is made with fresh tomatoes, too; serve with hot, steaming white rice and cucumber-tomato salad on the side. I'll be making lots of extra rice, because stir-fried rice is best made with leftover rice

SAT 7/31 -
Lunch: Shrimp Salsa Salad
Dinner: We're trying out ready-made ribs from Harris Teeter (grocery store); they come with a high recommendation. I think the rotisserie chicken available from most grocery stores is a good option for a low-cost takeout meal, too. With the ribs, we'll have Skillet Corn Bread Pudding, and leftover cucumber-tomato salad (which I think is better on the second day anyway). I can't resist it - I'm also making Tomato Pie

SUN 8/1 - Polynesian Chicken served with fried rice (made using leftover rice from Friday). 

MON 8/2 - Salmon with Caper Relish, wild rice mix (to which I'll add some nuts and canned oranges), Steamed Corn

TUE 8/3 - Tarragon-Crusted Chicken (TOH 2/Spring08/7), macaroni salad, and Zucchini Carpaccio

When one has tasted watermelon, he knows what the angels eat.
  - - Mark Twain

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chicken Tetrazzini - now & later

It's nice to have some meals frozen, ready to go. In preparation for the birth of my daughter, I froze a lot of meals, one of which was Chicken Tetrazzini. I didn't notice any difference in taste between the freshly made version and the one that had spent a couple months in the freezer!

Chicken Tetrazzini is a great recipe to use for leftover roast chicken. This time, though, I started with raw chicken, and I made a double batch. The original recipe ingredients are located here.

Start-to-finish, it took me 1 1/2 hours to get four pans of tetrazzini ready for baking. We had one pan for dinner, and I have 3 more in the freezer. I'm actually giving some to a friend who just had a baby, but I otherwise would have had 3 nights' meals ready to go, no additional prep needed. Just defrost & bake!

I used 5 1/2 pounds of bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs. As a bonus, since was cooking the chicken right then, I could use the water I cooked it in as the chicken broth that the recipe calls for.

We love mushrooms! 
I used about 6 cups. The original recipe lists 2 cups of mushrooms, so I really only needed to use 4 cups. I may have used a few extra. Just maybe. :)

Boil the chicken in enough water to cover it. My pot of water & chicken took about 20 minutes to come to a boil. Once the water boils, let it continue to cook another 10 minutes, then take the thighs out of the water. Let the water keep boiling, so it condenses down some for use as chicken stock.

While the chicken cools, prep the rest of the ingredients. 
(Measurements here are for a double batch.)
1/2 cup butter
1/2 cup flour
1/2 cup half-and-half
2 TB chopped fresh parsley
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp black pepper
6 TB white wine (or extra chicken stock)
1 pound spaghetti, cooked and drained
1 1/2 cups Parmesan cheese

Once the broth has condensed down a bit, pour it into a bowl (or large measuring dish) and skim off the fat. I find that using a measuring cup inside the bowl works for this. Just push the measuring cup down into the liquid, and allow the fat to run over the rim of the little cup. That way, you're not disturbing the surface too much, so the fat won't get mixed back in.

Once the chicken has cooled, remove the skin and bones, and tear/chop it into small pieces. I tear it up with my hands, then I use kitchen scissors to chop it some more once it's in the bowl.

Are you picturing me holding one little piece of chicken at a time and snipping it in half? Nah! Just stick the scissors in the bowl and start snipping.

It's time to get that pasta cooking! Separately, saute the mushrooms in the butter.

Once the mushrooms have softened, add the flour. Then, gradually add the broth. Once it boils, remove the pan from the heat. Add the cream, parsley, salt, nutmeg, pepper, and wine.

Now, combine the pasta and chicken with the mushroom mixture. 

The biggest skillet I have (12" cast iron) cannot hold all this! I drained the pasta & put it back into the pot. Then I dumped in the chicken and the mushroom mixture and stirred it all together.

This made enough for two bread pans and two 8" square pans. I lined three of the pans with foil (one was for dinner that night, so no need for foil).

Next time, I think I'll divide the chicken and pasta into the pans and then add part of the mushroom mixture to each pan.

Some for Later: Once the foiled pans were full of tetrazzini, I put more foil over the top and sealed up all the edges. Into the freezer the pans went! Once they are frozen, I can pop the foil packet out of the pan, and drop it in a gallon freezer bag. That way, I get my pans back! When it's time to bake it, I'll take it out of the freezer and put it back in that pan; I'll put that in the refrigerator to defrost.

I also find it handy to write the recipe name and cooking instructions on the foil packet (before it goes in the freezer).

Some for Now: Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, and you're done! I sprinkled some Basil Pesto on top just for fun. Ta-da!

What are some meals you've found that freeze really well? Please share!

Friday, July 23, 2010

An Exchange of Information

What is it? ... Your questions, answered!

The newest online cooking Q&A, (cool new domain name pending), has started its public beta! The site is community-powered, and the community is growing quickly. As a result, the site is getting better and better every day!

From the creators of StackOverflow comes a wiki-style resource for answers to food and cooking questions. The site is intended to meet the needs of professional and amateur chefs alike, providing clear answers to specific questions. For everything from how to chop onions without "crying"  to how to make clarified butter, this site has an answer.

Don’t see your question already answered? Just ask! A longtime user of the more established StackOverflow has noted he receives an answer to a new question in as little as 30 minutes on that site. I have experienced similarly quick response time on

How does it work?

Anyone can ask or answer questions! All questions and answers are rated by users. The questioner can “accept” an answer regardless of how many votes it received. The remaining answers are shown in order by the number of votes they received. You don’t have to sift through all the answers to find the good ones.

Users earn “reputation” points when their own questions and answers are voted up; basically, if other users like your contributions, you’ll gain a better reputation on the site.

The social engineering side of the site is simply brilliant. Positive behavior is encouraged. For example, users earn “badges” for things like categorizing questions, voting, editing, and commenting (think like “achievements” on Xbox). It’s much like a game; you want to earn badges and reputation points, leading you to contribute more to the site, making it better.

Why is this site needed? 

Doesn’t Google already meet the need for a Q&A? Not exactly. Google’s algorithm (how it determines what shows up when you search) has no way of knowing what information is most accurate for you. A genre-specific search engine (or Q&A site) will give you better answers than a broad search engine.

More importantly, Google can only show you the answers that are already out there. Cooks everywhere need a place to go with live, unanswered questions. is not yet another recipe exchange... it's a real-time solution source for your kitchen questions.

Who can benefit?

You! If you’re reading this blog, this Q&A site is for you! Maybe you have questions… and maybe you have answers for others’ questions.

Check it out today!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

MENU Wed 7/21 through Wed 7/28

Another Week, Another Box of Produce!

This week's delivery from The Produce Box looks great, as always. If you're looking for an organization like The Produce Box in your area (i.e. Community Supported Agrliculture, or CSA), check out

This week, I received:

  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • New potatoes (1.75 pounds)
  • 1 spaghetti squash (2 pounds)
  • 2 cucumbers
  • Field peas (in pods, 1.25 pounds)
  • Personal watermelon
  • Sprite melon
  • 2 Korean Stripe melons
Not bad for $22, eh? I also opted for a quart of okra (.75 lb).
If you're looking for more recipes, check out; all the recipes from this year's The Produce Box newsletter are in their own category

Here's the Week's Menu:

WED 7/21 - Chicken and Black Bean Burritos (using leftover Cuban Black Beans) and yellow rice mix. I'm trying out this recipe for the chicken. I'll slice up some of the cherry tomatoes and some cilantro to go in them as well - and if I can get cheap avocados, we'll have guacamole, too. For an appetizer, I'm definitely making Fresh Melon Salsa to serve with tortilla chips.

THU 7/22 - Caribbean-Style Tilapia with Fresh Lime (I've tweaked the recipe a bit), leftover Cuban Black Beans, Corn, and Fried Plantains.

FRI 7/23 - Venetian Chicken served with Spaghetti Squash Ratatouille over Potatoes Boulangere (doesn't that sound fancy?). I typically make Rosemary Roasties out of red potatoes, but I'd like to try something new. Then, I'll make chicken salad for Saturday lunches, using the leftover chicken.

SAT 7/24 - One of my beautiful sisters and her boyfriend are in town! I'm really looking forward to cooking with Amy (as a companion, not as an ingredient).
Baked Brie (with Basil Pesto, pine nuts, and olive oil; served with fresh bread) as an appetizer; Baby Back Ribs with Kansas City Rib Sauce, Grilled Corn, Fried Okra with Remoulade, and field peas (aka black-eyed peas). Key Lime Pie is scheduled for dessert.
This New England girl has never made black-eyed peas before; I'm trying out this recipe.

SUN 7/25 - Headed to the Lake! Grilled Hamburgers and Hot Dogs, Watergate Salad, Mixed Bean Casserole, and LOTS of fresh, sweet melon.

MON 7/26 - Amy and Dan will be at the beach, so it's back to cooking for two. They may be going out to Lucky 32 for dinner. If you're ever in the Raleigh area, Lucky's makes a nice treat for dinner. They have a continually changing, seasonal menu. Dinah and I will have Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss with tossed salad on the side.

TUE 7/27 - Amy and Dan are choosing dinner tonight!

WED 7/28 - Last night of cooking with Amy and Dan.  We'll make it a finger-food dinner! Baked Buffalo Wings (served with celery sticks and blue cheese & ranch dressing, of course), Frank's Red Hot Chicken Dip, and french fries ... OR ... we'll make Puerco Pibil served over rice. Amy & Dan can pick.

By the way, the Greek Picnic Pie we had this past week was delightful!

Even if you don't much care for the admittedly strong flavor eggplant usually has, this is quite good. You may want to peel the eggplant, though.

"If he is thin, I will probably dine poorly. If he is both thin and sad, the only hope is in flight."  
- - Fernand Point (considered the father of modern French cuisine), on the chef as the critical indicator when sizing up an unfamiliar restaurant.

Monday, July 19, 2010

In Search of a Healthier Muffin

So, I found this recipe for blueberry muffins a few weeks ago, and it makes amazing muffins. In fact, my husband and neighbors all agree they've had none better.

Blueberry Muffins - A Healthier Muffin

So, what's the problem, you ask?
217 calories
8 grams fat
573 mg sodium
1 lonely little gram of fiber
17 grams sugar

AND that's without the crumb topping, which adds another 33 calories, 1 g fat, and 5 g sugar. For you Weight Watchers fans, that makes each muffin 6 points. 
Thanks to for the nutrition data.  

Once I realized how unhealthy these muffins were, despite their delightful flavor, I began work on creating an equally tasty but healthier muffin. 

Blueberry Muffins - A Healthier Muffin

Dry Ingredients
  • 1 cup quick oats (the kind that cooks in 1 minute)
  • 1/4 cup regular rolled oats
  • 1/2 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup oat bran (for a less oaty taste, replace with flour)
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 1 TB baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt

Wet Ingredients
  • 1 cup milk (I used 1%)
  • 1 egg
  • 6 TB unsweetened applesauce (about one of those individual-serving cups they sell in packs)


Don't Forget: 1 1/3 cup fresh blueberries

  • 2 TB regular, rolled oats
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine wet ingreds into dry
  1. Preheat oven to 415 degrees. 
  2. Combine all dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. 
  3. In a separate bowl, combine all wet ingredients. 
  4. Stir the wet ingredients into the dry ones until mostly combined - you'll still see some areas that look dry. 
  5. Mix the blueberries in gently. 
  6. Divide into ten greased muffin cups (or use paper liners). Note: I've heard it's helpful to put water in the muffin pan cups you're not using. I don't do this, though, because it always ends with spilled water and burns at my house.
  7. Bake 15 minutes at 415 degrees. To tell if they're done, stick a toothpick down the center of the biggest muffin. If it comes out clean or with just crumbs, they're done. If it comes out with batter on it, give them another 2 minutes.

Allow the muffins to cool for 5 min in the pan before removing. I find it helpful to run a knife around the edge of each of the muffins before trying to pop them out.

And the best part -

129 calories
1.5 grams fat
397 mg sodium
2.5 grams fiber
11 grams sugar

Per muffin, that's just 2 Weight Watchers points!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Why Buy Local Produce?

Every week, I get local produce delivered to my doorstep by The Produce Box. The convenience of home delivery is clearly an advantage for someone like me, with a new baby at home - trips to the State Farmers' Market in 100 degree heat are pretty difficult for baby Rosie.

But what about everyone who has to go to a farmers' market, stop at a farm stand, or choose a different grocery store to get local produce? Why should they bother?

I believe the local foods movement is motivated by (in no particular order) a desire for a higher-quality product, consideration for the environment, and price. 

Food Quality - local is the clear choice

The strawberries are what first won me over. When I sliced into the first one and saw that deep, deep red color, I was a believer in local produce. I have not seen a berry that red in a grocery store, not ever.

Have you ever bought peaches from the grocery store and brought them home, hoping they'd ripen soon, only to discover they never really do? Peaches shipped in from across the country are picked rock-hard and green, and ripened by a gas in the truck. They can't taste the same as a local peach!

A clear advantage of local produce is that it may be picked ripe. The produce I received Wednesday was still in the ground, growing, on Monday - maybe even on Tuesday! If it had to be trucked across the country first, it could not have been picked ripe, or it would have rotted by the time it arrived.

Environmental Impact - more complicated than I thought!

Food Miles: the distance food travels from the farm to your table. Purchasing local produce means your food didn't have to be shipped across the country (or the world!) to make it to your table.

Initially, I thought the concept of food miles was the entirety of the discussion. I live in North Carolina, so if my tomatoes come from NC instead of California, they have a smaller carbon footprint, right? Not necessarily.

Eating local is not about getting the local version of every food item you want. If it's not meant to be grown locally, there will be a greater environmental impact. To lessen the environmental impact of the food you put on your table, buy local, but be smart about it. Think about what grows naturally in your area.

An important consideration is whether the product naturally grows well in your area. Oranges grown in North Carolina would have a more negative environmental impact than oranges shipped in from Florida.

Consider the example I found in this wiki article on local food. "... lamb raised on New Zealand's clover-choked pastures and shipped 11,000 miles by boat to Britain produced 1,520 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions per ton while British lamb produced 6,280 pounds of carbon dioxide per ton, in part because poorer British pastures force farmers to use feed. In other words, it is four times more energy-efficient for Londoners to buy lamb imported from the other side of the world than to buy it from a producer in their backyard."

Really, to determine the environmental impact of your food, you must account for the full range of resources. Fertilizer, fuel, the heating of greenhouses, building materials, heating, cooling, and packaging equipment... they all contribute to the carbon footprint of your food.

Local Farming is Sustainable Farming

The consumption of local produce creates a higher demand for variety from local farmers. Growing a variety of crops is a sustainable farming practice that will help keep the land healthy, reduce the need for pesticides, and lower the need for commercial fertilizers. 

Examples of these practices are multiple cropping,  where several crops in the same space during a growing season; crop rotation, growing very different crops sequentially in the same plot of land; and winter intercropping, where a farmer plants leguminous crops - think beans and peas - during the winter.

Cost to the Consumer

This week, I decided to price my produce box contents against two local grocery stores, Kroger and Lowe's Foods.

I spent $22 for my box of fresh, local produce from The Produce Box.
In one case, I'd have spent more at the grocery store; in the other, I'd have spent the same. Keep in mind, though, that this was delivered right to my door. I believe my time is worth something... and they saved me time, for sure! 

If there are roadside stands near you, check them out! As noted in an article by, they can be the cheapest of all! has a more current article (May 2010) about how to get the most out of a farmers' market.

In the end...

Buy in-season local produce, and you will
  • receive a better, riper product
  • support sustainable agriculture
  • encourage your local economy
  • get more for your money

I also think it makes a fun family trip to go to the farmers market - the one near us always has samples, too! I see something new every time I go. Receiving my weekly box of local produce has opened my family up to all sorts of new foods: kale, okra, eggplant, new melons.. the list goes on.

What about you? What are your thoughts on local produce?

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

MENU Wed 7/14 through Tue 7/20

Let's Hear it for Fresh, Local Produce!

I just received this week's delivery from The Produce Box, full of fresh, local produce. The Produce Box is a Community-Supported-Agriculture (CSA) organization in the Raleigh, NC area. Look for a farm co-op in your area on

This week, I received...

  • 1 medium white eggplant (3/4 pound) - - I've never had this kind before!
  • 3 small purple eggplants (3/4 pound)
  • 2 medium butternut squash
  • 3 pickling cucumbers
  • 2 green bell peppers
  • 1 pint of blueberries
  • 11 roma tomatoes (2 3/4 pounds)
  • 7 peaches (2 1/2 pounds)
  • 1 personal watermelon.

I also received two extra green bell peppers and 3 roma tomatoes from my coordinator, as an apology for having forgotten last week's newsletter. Wow!!

This week's box included a sample of Yah's Best: Herbal Delight seasoning mix. I bought a packet of this at the State Farmers' Market a couple of weeks ago. It's WONDERFUL!! My neighbor saw my packet and exclaimed over it; she also bought a packet at the Farmers' Market. Use to season dips, sprinkle on pizza, mix w/ olive oil for a grilling baste (on meats or veggies), in dipping oil for bread... I make a similar mix myself, and we use it a lot!

Looking for more recipes using fresh, local produce? Check out all the recipes from The Produce Box newsletters, on JustRightMenus.

Here's the Week's Menu:

Can you tell I've been flipping through my Mediterranean cookbook?

WED 7/13 - Shrimp and Okra Gumbo will make good use of my remaining okra! Serve over white rice.

THU 7/14 - Lamb Pitas with Mint Yogurt Dressing, served with Greek Boats (using my white eggplant), and Fresh Cucumber Salad on the side. I'll add some fresh, sliced tomatoes to the cucumber salad, too.

FRI 7/15 - Baked Cod in the Style of Spetses, Tomato and Basil Tart, Wild Rice Mix.

SAT 7/16 - For lunch, I'll make New Potato, Rosemary, and Garlic Pizza. We'll also have dip with veggies (definitely including some of the tasty bell peppers from The Produce Box). For dinner, we'll have Grilled Porterhouse, leftover Pizza from lunch, and leftover Tomato and Basil Tart from the night before. As dessert, we'll enjoy Wine-Soaked Peaches with Ice Cream.

SUN 7/17Marinated Pork Kebabs with Tzatsiki Sauce, Butternut Squash.

MON 7/18 - Cuban Black Beans (I'm trying out this recipe ) and Cuban Ground Beef Creole over rice. Between the two recipes, you'll need 4 bell peppers and 4 onions, so be sure you're stocked up!

TUE 7/19 - Grilled Barbecue Chicken Thighs, Greek Picnic Pie (using my purple eggplants).

This weekend, we'll have more blueberry pancakes! I'll make some blueberry muffins for the week, too. I'm continuing to experiment with different muffin recipes. You'll be hearing from me soon on those.

"This is my invariable advice to people: Learn how to cook- try new recipes, learn from your mistakes, be fearless, and above all have fun!" - - Julia Child, My Life in France

Monday, July 12, 2010

Corn Pudding - - with fresh corn!

Corn Pudding is a staple of our family's Thanksgiving and Christmas meals. However, when you make this with fresh corn in the summer, it doesn't feel wintry at all. We just had it last night, and it was amazing!

The ingredients are pretty simple - except for the corn, the ingredients are all items you probably keep in stock.

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 cup evaporated milk

1/4 cup sugar

2 1/2 TB flour

2 TB melted butter

Salt, to taste

1 1/2 to 2 cups fresh corn, cut from the cob

I found that I needed 4 ears of corn; however, the ears I was using were medium-sized.

To cut the corn from the cob, hold the corn steady over a cutting board, and use a straight-bladed knife to slice down the cob. Don't cut so close that you feel much resistance - that means you're getting too much of the cob. I've read you should slice off 2/3 the height of the kernels, if that helps.

As you can see, the kernels sort of fly everywhere. Upon reflection, I should have used a larger cutting board, to help catch them. A few found the floor, too. (Okay, okay, more than a few!)

Many kernels will be stuck together, but they will break apart when you mix them into the batter. In no particular order, combine all the ingredients in a mixing bowl, and pour them into a greased baking dish. An 8" or 9" round (or square) pan would work well. I used an 8" diameter, round glass dish.

Bake for 50 to 60 minutes at 350 degrees, or until the top and sides are lightly browned. 

You can also tell if it's done by sticking the tip of a butter knife into the center. If you can see the bottom of the dish without the pudding running over, it's sufficiently cooked.

I served the corn pudding alongside Cajun Blackened Catfish, Watermelon, and Fried Okra with Remoulade Sauce.

All things considered, this meal doesn't take long to prepare. The corn pudding takes about 15 minutes to get to the oven; then, you just leave it to bake. You can slice your watermelon anytime, and just leave it to chill in the refrigerator. The catfish and okra take about the same amount of time to cook - you can slice the okra & mix the Remoulade while the frying oil heats*.

To speed up the process even more, I mix large batches of the Cajun spices so I have them on hand when needed. I just put it in an old spice container, re-labeled.

In case you're wondering what to do with the rest of the evaporated milk, you can just use it as part of the milk required in a muffin recipe. I'm working on a new blueberry muffin recipe (coming soon!), since my favorite ones aren't exactly healthy. 

*Or, your sous-chef (aka spouse) can slice the okra & mix the sauce for you! Thank you, Dinah! Baby Rosie appreciated it, too - - I was busy feeding her.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Squash Fritters

The Squash Fritters were a hit tonight! The recipe specified zucchini, but I used summer squash from The Produce Box. I served them with plan yoghurt on the side.

My husband is not a big squash fan, let me just get that out there. Me? Just slice it up, toss it in a pan 'til it's warm, and I'm a happy girl. But ... ::drumroll:: ... he liked these! We are definitely having these again. I can't wait to get more squash!

Round Two, in the pan

Flipped Over (after 3-4 minutes)

Round One, Complete!

Sorry, no pics of them beautifully plated alongside creamy yoghurt... the dear baby started to scream right about dinnertime, so the camera was laid aside. 

Frying Advice
  • Be sure your oil is HOT! The recommended temperature for frying is 350 to 375 degrees. The high temp means the food absorbs less oil and will actually be more crispy.
  • Use a long-handled spoon to drop the fritters into the pan, unless you want scars. 
  • Don't try to fit too much in the pan at once... crowded fritters are not tasty fritters. Also, the more you add, the more your oil temp drops.
  • Keep a fire extinguisher in your kitchen. Seriously. Mine is in a cupboard directly opposite the stove, and I make sure it's *always* in front. I'd rather have to shift things to get to the Windex when I need it than have to shift things to get to the fire extinguisher when I need it!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

MENU Wed 7/7 through Tue 7/13

It's Produce Day!

My delivery from The Produce Box has arrived. This week, I received 8 ears of corn, 5 summer squash, a quart of red potatoes, a quart of okra, a pint of blueberries, 2 cucumbers, a personal watermelon, and a Canary melon. I didn't receive a copy of the newsletter this time, but once I do, I'll post the recipes from it on

Last week's hamburgers came out great! I found that using 1/2 tsp of seasoning for each 1/4 pound burger worked just right. I also grilled big, fat onion slices alongside the burgers. I added the cheese for just the last couple of minutes on the grill. Proud of myself? Yes, yes I am. I'll be making the burgers like this for Saturday's party, for sure!

I bought a lot of basil from the State Farmers' Market (3 big bunches for $5), so I'll be making Basil Pesto today or tomorrow. Please post your favorite recipes using pesto on!

Here's the week's menu:

WED 7/7
- Since we went to Dinah's parents' for dinner on Monday, the menu shifted back one day. So, we're having Savory Peach Chicken served over jasmine rice tonight (it was scheduled for last night). We'll also have Quick Saute of Zucchini with Toasted Almonds, but I'll be using summer squash instead of zucchini.

THU 7/8
- Broiled Tilapia, Broiled Parmesan-Basil Tomatoes, and Rosemary Roasties (red potatoes).

FRI 7/9
- "Proscuitto" Chicken Kabobs, Grilled Corn, and Zucchini Fritters (though I'm using summer squash instead of zucchini). We'll have the Canary melon for dessert. That'll be a first for me; I've never had it before.

SAT 7/10
- Happy Fourth of July on the Tenth of July Party! I'm grilling hamburgers and hot dogs. I'll also make pasta salad and steamed corn. Friends are bringing macaroni and cheese, fruit salad, and brownies.

SUN 7/11 - Cajun Blackened Catfish, Fried Okra served with Remoulade Sauce, Corn Pudding, and watermelon. I'm excited about the watermelon; the last one we got from The Produce Box was one of the best I've ever had!

MON 7/12
- Chicken Tetrazzini - I'm making LOTS, so we can freeze 2 pans of it and bring 2 pans to a friend who just had a baby. I'm going to experiment by sprinkling pesto on top for the last few minutes of cooking time.

TUE 7/13
- It's been so hot, I prefer grilling over running the oven when possible. So, it's Grilled Barbecue Pork Chops on this night! Serve with Red Potatoes and Fresh Corn Salad.

The blueberries are destined for Blueberry Muffins for breakfast during the week, and Blueberry Pancakes this weekend. I can hardly wait!

"Sex is good, but not as good as good as fresh, sweet corn." - - Garrison Keillor