Sunday, January 23, 2011

MPM--Monster Post on Some Things that Worked

Greetings, all. The menu is on top but a TON of links and reviews are below. You can tell it's winter--everything has potatoes and there's a lot of meat (or meaty things) involved! I'm also continuing to use things up...the beans from the can-can sale, the mysterious drawer full of carrots...

Monday: Baked Sausage with Apples, Potatoes, and Onions

Tuesday: Mushroom Bourguignon over egg noodles

Wednesday: If the kids are better: Wednesday Spaghetti! But since I like the people at WedSpag, I will spare them our germs if the kids are still not totally better. Backup plan: Pesto Minestrone or avgolemono from the Time for Dinner cookbook

Thursday: Belgian Beef Stew over mashed potatoes

Friday: Leftovers

First, last week. We went pretty much according to plan, and after so many sick weeks, it was a joy to see my older son snarfing down two huge tacos. He still wasn't 100% but at least his appetite came back!

I'm in a seemingly eternal search for how to recreate my favorite sweet potato burrito from a food truck with a maddeningly inconsistent schedule near where I used to work. I knew their pico had a lot to do with it, and so thought maybe I'd try using my favorite one from the little gourmet shop near us. It worked! And the very kind friend who made us dinner (more on that in a minute) told me about the Moosewood sweet potato burrito recipe. I followed the recipe (because it was the first time, and I'm just like that) and it was excellent, but I'm even more excited because I think I have the answer to how to fake my favorite takeout burrito now. The Moosewood recipe is here, and I do recommend it. I didn't read carefully enough and did not dice my onions small enough (I thought they'd be going in the food processor), so be warned about that but otherwise--easy and so good. (And again, I didn't bake them off--I just made them in to a burrito with sour cream or yogurt or something, pico with avocado, and the filling. Heaven.)

Meanwhile, this kind friend I mentioned made us dinner on Monday night because--surprise!--my husband's ankle *is* broken after all. Hello, stylin' new boot. And the very next day, just to keep the giggles coming, we had an ice storm. Fan-freakin'-tastic. And this awesome friend called and offered me one of two dinners for the week. Since I already had sweet potatoes at home, I tried the other one, and it was terrific too. I really need to just go tag along in her incredibly healthy and homey kitchen for a month and apprentice myself. The dinner was noodles in a peanut sauce with some tofu mixed in, with snap peas on the side. To be honest, I wasn't thrilled when she mentioned it but I thought, beats coming up with your own dinner, and it was actually great. Both grownups really enjoyed it (and she says her kids like it too...mine were too suspicious...did I mention the little one cries when I mention kindergarten "because they serve grapes at kindergarten parties and I don't like grapes?" true story). Anyway. It also reminded my older one that he likes snow peas, so that was a bonus as well. And as if that weren't kindness enough, when the snow came after the ice storm, we woke up to a cleared sidewalk and driveway, with our paper right outside our door...funny thing was, I thought my husband did it...he thought I did it...Turns out his soccer buddies, the ones who he was playing with when his ankle was broken, had organized a shoveling crew and come over to dig us out before work. It has been such a hard month for us, this still makes me smile every time I think of it. They are threatening to do this every snowstorm until the ankle is clear. I just stocked up on hot-drink cups and cocoa. We're not missing them again if they do come, that's for sure.

Back to meals: I skipped the slow cooker recipe when I found this recipe for (faux?) butter chicken. As the curry keeps not happening, I thought I could do *something* Indian, so we gave it a try (plus I had all the required spices and was on a quest to finish my cumin, since the lid was broken). And this was a clear home run for me. The chicken was great but it also was very similar to my favorite sauce for malai kofta (veggie "meatballs") from my favorite Indian place so I am already plotting how to use it for that next time. Now really: how could it not be good with that much half-and-half? But still: an excellent base to experiment.

Finally, I realized I didn't ever post some of the things we made while the computer was down. There's more than this, I think, but these were sort of the attention-grabbers during the busiest baking season of the year.

While the wheels fell off some things (I didn't bake any Christmas cookies other than the magic five layer bars), others went well. My niece and her husband came to visit and cook, and we tried some new recipes and taught each other some old standards.

My personal favorite new recipe was the Smitten Kitchen Mushrooms in Garlic Sauce. I also loved her Mushroom Lasagna and her Creamed Mushrooms on Toast, so it wasn't surprising that these were great too. We tried them at home, then I took another batch to Christmas--they were worthy.

We also did the Food52 overnight steel-cut oatmeal, which was a big hit with all but my picky younger son (odd, since it's beige!). We even trotted out the almond butter and I really liked it, but most of the others just stuck with their usual add-ins. (And have I mentioned how fun it is to have a foodie niece half my age who found the same blogs on her own? Love it. Love it. Love it.)

I also made yogurt again, which was a big hit, and went very well with the Trader Joe's granola...yum.

There was an interesting discovery while making the Barefoot Contessa Coconut Cupcakes from the box: First, they were excellent, even though they were a little past the date. They are definitely worth making again. Second, it said the recipe would make 10 cupcakes but in my pans, which were my mother's, they would definitely have made 12. This was a good lesson: first, no wonder cupcake recipes and muffin recipes don't always come out well for me, and second, what an up-close example of how food in America is just getting bigger.

A less successful experiment was rosemary-olive bread in the bread machine. It worked, but it was heavy, so I need to figure out more here. And the olives practically disappeared, which was not a desired outcome. I have a lot to learn here.

Finally, how easy is this: Rosemary Bacon Chicken. I mean, it's a no-brainer, right? Right. Super easy, felt healthier than the rollups I usually make with the same ingredients *and* cream cheese, and bacon is one of the only foods all four of us eat. So that was a win. Even the rosemary didn't scare off the younger eaters. This will enter the rotation.

So. There's more than you ever wanted to know about my family's eating habits these last few weeks. What are you up to? Post your recipes at I'm an Organizing Junkie, or look there for more ideas!

1 comment:

Mom24 said...

I've always wondered about the Barefoot Contessa mixes. I don't usually buy things like that, but I had a feeling those would be good, I'll have to check it out. Thanks.

The Rosemary Bacon Chicken sounds delicious.

Those mushrooms in garlic sauce caught my eye too, they sound really good too.

So sorry about hubby's ankle. The shoveling crew is too sweet. One of those things that just makes everything easier.