Wednesday, September 29, 2010

MENU Wed 9/28 through Tue 10/5

Back in the Saddle Again 
Life is so much easier when meals are planned!

So, I skipped one week of The Produce Box, and now they're on fall break - no boxes for two weeks. Then I'm skipping one more week b/c the baby and I are heading to Buffalo (Dinah will still be here - feel free to feed him good food on my behalf). After 4 weeks off, I can't wait to see what will be in the fall boxes from The Produce Box, though! Alas, I have to wait a while yet. There's still all kinds of good stuff at the Farmers' Market

Here's the Week's Menu: 

WED 9/29 - Birthday Meal.  My birthday's not 'til next Wednesday, but we're celebrating early for convenience. Not sure yet what we're having, but I know it will be good! 

THU 9/30 - I <3 Lamb!  Roast Leg of Lamb served with Tzatsiki Sauce, Twice-Baked Sweet Potatoes, and Steamed Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce.    

FRI 10/1 - Shrimp + Pasta.  Grilled Shrimp Mediterranean over Pasta.
Cool Shrimp Salad
Last time I made granola, I made way too much. So, I'm trying out Fudgy Granola Brownies to use some of it.   

SAT 10/2 - I Still <3 Lamb!  Lamb Pitas with Mint Yogurt Dressing
Lunch: Cool Shrimp Salad 

SUN 10/3 - Grilling.  Grilled Achiote Chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, and peas. I'm thinking about Vanilla Roasted Pears for dessert, too.
On the subject of achiote (aka annatto), if you've never tried Puerco Pibil, give it a try! The leftovers are fabulous, too. Hmm. Going to have to fit that one in the menu sometime soon.  

Breakfast for the week:  I have plenty of bagels frozen for me, and I'll make Zucchini Bread for Dinah, subbing applesauce for the oil. I just used this Recipe Calculator to find out that recipe's nutrition facts... eek. I'll be working on that one. Tasty as the original recipe is, it's not the healthiest breakfast.

MON 10/4 - Trying out Jamaican Flavors.  Jamaican Jerk Chicken served with Cuban Black Beans and rice. I'll freeze the extra beans for help with easy meals later on. I'll broil some pineapple to go with it as well.  

TUE 10/5 - Easy Meal!  Asparagus with Chorizo and Croutons, with green beans subbed in for the asparagus, since they are in season.  

And it turns out that chocolate souffle is not nearly as difficult as it's made out to be. Check it out at Cooking for Engineers. It was puffier, but the first photo ops didn't work out as well. Very tasty, though. The key most certainly is to use good chocolate. Really good chocolate. It's like cooking with wine - if you wouldn't drink the wine, don't cook with it. If you wouldn't eat the chocolate (provided you like dark chocolate), don't cook with it.

The only thing that will make a souffle fall is if it knows you are afraid of it. 
 - - James Beard

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

MENU Wed 9/8 through Tue 9/14

Leftovers Week!
.... Three goals achieved: no waste, cleaner kitchen, and low grocery bill!

I was excited to receive this week's delivery from The Produce Box. Apples and peaches and all sorts of wonderful things. Even a jar of pickled squash... not sure what I'm going to do with that one just yet.  The Produce Box is Raleigh's local Community Supported Agriculture group that provides a box of farm-fresh, local fruits and vegetables right to my door. To find a CSA near you, check out

This week, I received:

  • 5 Cucumbers (3 lb) 
  • 2 Zucchini (1.75 lb)  
  • 4 Field Tomatoes (1.75 lb) 
  • 1 pint Okra (6 oz)  
  • Apples (2.5 lb) 
  • 5 Peaches (2.25 lb) 
  • Pickled Squash (1 pint jar) 

Last week had a couple of menu changes - we did takeout on Friday night (yes, even I give in sometimes) and I was out of town Monday, so Dinah made his own dinner. Between those decisions and the general, inevitable buildup of ingredients, it's time to have a cleanup week!

Here's the Week's Menu: 

WED 9/8 - Nothing Says Summer Like...  Cheeseburgers, Sweet Potato Fries, Fresh Cucumber Salad, and Watermelon.

Lunches: I'm going to pre-cook some bacon tonight, to enable me to have BLTs for lunch the next few days.

THU 9/9 - Easy Dinner Night.  Enchiladas made from shredded chicken (previously frozen). Leftover (previously frozen) black beans on the side. These are the same ingredients that, along with some salsa, made Burritos earlier in the week. There's a lot of overlap between burritos and enchiladas - a different sauce, and different cooking & assembly, but same base ingredients.

Bagels: Attempt No. 2 ... and this time, I'm taking pictures. The process overall takes a long time, but it's mostly waiting time. There's not that much time spent actively working on the bagels. Keep your eyes out for a future post with details.

Blueberry-Banana Smoothie
FRI 9/10 - Fishy Friday is Back Again!  Cajun Blackened Catfish, Zucchini Fritters, Corn (frozen), and Watermelon. I'll use the rest of that zucchini to make baby food for Rosie.

SAT 9/11 - Cajun.  Shrimp and Okra Gumbo, using fresh Roma tomatoes from last week's Produce Box. 

Snack Idea: If you have yoghurt, fruit, honey, and ice, you can make smoothies! Smoothies work well with frozen berries - or even this week's peaches! I decided this would be a great use for the yoghurt I have hanging out in the fridge.

Saturday, Late Night:  After baby goes to bed, I'm making Gougeres - Cheesy Puffs of Goodness with Bleu Cheese and Rosemary. I think I'm going to serve these with chunks of blue cheese and lovely glasses of Port. I love Saturday nights! They're just made for staying up late (with a great snack like this, of course!).

SUN 9/12 - Fancy Dinner Night.  Cedar-Planked Salmon, wild rice mix, grilled vegetable skewers. Dessert: Apple Dumplings. I've made them before (picture here is of mine), but I can't find the recipe!

Weekly Muffins: Use a zucchini bread batter to make muffins instead of bread.

MON 9/13 - Good Food, Easy Recipes. Pan-Grilled Lamb Shoulder Chops, Rosemary Roasties, cucumber salad of some sort. 

TUE 9/14 - Italian Night.  Chicken Piccata Pasta Toss.

And, at some point, I'll be making apple pie. 

Good apple pies are a considerable part of our domestic happiness. 
  - - Jane Austen

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

MENU Wed 9/1 to Tue 9/7

Local Apples Have Arrived!

This week, I received:

  • McIntosh Apples (1.25 lb)
  • Gala Apples (0.75 lb)
  • Yellow Delicious Apples (1 lb)
  • 4 Peaches (1.75 lb)
  • 3 Field Tomatoes (1.25 lb)
  • 1 Personal Watermelon
  • 1 Sprite melon
  • 5 Cucumbers (2 lb)

I'm excited about all the apples! I miss the orchard in my hometown... we'd buy "seconds" by the bushel. They were a bit bruised or just misshapen, so they were much cheaper. If you've never made apple butter, you should give it a try!

Apple Ideas:

Fancy meals can be easy! Last week's Chicken Marsala was fabulous. It's a great recipe - and really not difficult. Really. Sprinkle flour and some spices on the chicken, cook it in a little butter or oil in a frying pan, then take it out. Add garlic and lots of mushrooms, then once they're soft add about 1/2 cup of Marsala wine and a bit of lemon juice; simmer until the wine reduces down quite a bit. Then put the chicken back in, sprinkle it with some Parmesan, and you're done! See? Not so bad, eh? Serve it with some pasta and salad, and you have a very fancy meal for very little work.

Here's the Week's Menu: 

WED 9/1 - Trying Again for Shrimp!  Shrimp and Black Bean Salad is on the menu b/c I didn't get to make it over the weekend. Life happens... especially when there's a little baby around. Serve with fresh watermelon.

THU 9/2 - Easy Meal.  Salsa and Chips, and Shredded Pork Wraps made from the pork loin I cooked in the crock pot on Tuesday. We'll have Fresh Cucumber Salad (with sliced field tomatoes mixed in) on the side. All the leftover pork will go to the freezer for future wraps.

FRI 9/3 - Fishy Friday!  Baked Tilapia and Couscous with Sausage, cooked something like this recipe but with no olives and less sausage. I'll keep you posted!  For a veggie, I'll cook up some of the fabulous corn I froze, from The Produce Box

SAT 9/4 - Dinner on the Deck.  Grilled Chicken Breast drizzled with a Simple Balsamic Reduction, Grilled Apple Tossed Salad (I'm going to experiment with changing the dressing), and Rosemary Roasties.

Peach Freezer Jam - I have peaches, packaged pectin, sugar, lemon juice, and freezer containers. Here goes nothing! Here's a site with great step-by-step instructions.

Speaking of peaches, if you've never made Peach Sludge (great name, huh?) then you're missing out! Freeze chopped peaches, then mix them in the blender with milk. Use 1-2 cups of milk for each cup of peaches, depending on how thick you want the drink to be. Add a bit of sugar or sweetener if you'd like.

SUN 9/5 - Spaghetti Sunday.  Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, nothing fancy. But I'm also going to try to make little bowls out of melted Parmesan cheese. How cool is that?! (A disc of melted cheese is called a frico.) This should be fun!

The Continuing Saga of the Carrot Muffins. So, I made these really great carrot muffins at last... but I measured by weight rather than by volume. When I converted the recipe to volume, they came out terrible. So, the saga continues. I press on, though, because once I have a recipe we like, I'm done. ::phew:: So, it's one more round of carrot muffins this week!

MON 9/6 - Mexican Monday!  Burritos made from Cuban Black Beans (using leftovers in the freezer) and shredded chicken (also from the freezer). I'll also make a salad with lettuce, canned orange slices, and avocado.

Once a week, plan a meal that would freeze well. By cooking once, you'll have dinner that night and have a future super-easy meal (or two!). Those frozen meals are great for nights you just don't feel up to cooking much. It's easy to do take-out, too... but sometimes that's not so easy on your budget! So plan ahead a little, and you'll have a meal in the freezer ready to go.

TUE 9/7 - Grilling Again (please don't rain!)  Grilled Pork Chops and Fried Apples and Onions

Can I just tell you how excited I am that apples are coming in? Share your favorite apple recipes on

Surely the apple is the nobles of fruits.  - - Henry David Thoreau