Sunday, February 27, 2011

MPM--In Like a Lion...

Hello, and welcome to almost-March! I, for one, welcome our new weather overlords. This February wasn't as epically terrible as some but there was so much fallout from January, I am ready to weep with relief over the change of month. Here's hoping that lots of good changes are in the air for you and yours, and me and mine.

Monday: cider vinegar chicken, roasted potatoes, salad (maybe Moroccan carrot salad? could be too much vinegar, we'll see)

Tuesday: taco Tuesday, plus Pioneer Woman's spinach and mushroom quesadillas for the grownups

Wednesday: freezer meal--could be Trader Joe's, could be something I made. We'll see!

Thursday: Plum Jelly chicken again, this time with cashews (see below), rice, broccoli

Friday: leftovers.

Last week:

The plum jelly chicken was a hit again, which was nice, though of course neither child ate any. And it left me with a lot of plum jelly, so we'll make it again, and soon. This time, though, I think I'm going to add cashews, and I'll also say: don't skip the scallion garnish. That's what really makes this dish, in my experience, the tang with the sweet sauce.

Speaking of jelly, Amazon keeps flogging One Big Table to me based on my cookbook browsing. I finally took a look at it and I loved the idea, and got hooked by the recipe for LaVerne's seedless black raspberrry bars. I used a few "stripes" of jellies from jars in the house, and instead of doing half-and-half with batter in the bottom and over the jelly, I went a little heavier on the bottom since that's how *I* like cookies like these. And it was so easy, and I love a recipe with no eggs so the kids (yes, the kids) can eat the batter without me hurling silent prayers to heaven to protect from salmonella (or worse, being mean mom and saying NO to licking the spatulas at all). It was fascinating to see the difference between the "good" jellies (Polaners) and the cheapie store brand jellies and how they cooked up. (Store brands, in general, thicker and less appetizing looking to me.) They all tasted good, though, and were a hit with the family and my moms' group. Next time, though, I will go with even more dough on the bottom and less on the top; there was so much left in the pan after cutting and so much left in the container after transporting, it felt like a waste. And I like the idea too of serving warm with ice time!

In a fail almost before I started, I made the orange-cumin slow cooker pork roast. While it smelled great cooking, I was reminded of several things while making it, because the first thing I did was botch getting it in to the pan to brown, splashing shimmering hot oil all over my wrist and forearm. A) this is why I usually brown in the toaster oven, but (despite the cookie story above) I usually like to follow a recipe exactly the first time so if it's a mess-up, I know I don't have to wonder whether it would have worked if only I'd followed the directions. B) this is why I usually use my high-sided pan to do my browning. C) this is why I should do the dishes before I go to sleep, no matter how tired I am. Happily, it wasn't a bad burn, but it's painful for sure, and made it harder (and hurtier) to do those aforementioned dishes I'd left in the sink. Sigh.

Where was I? Oh, yeah, the pork. I'll brown it in the toaster oven next time; I do think it makes a difference to brown, but it's pork, why add oil? And it made the house smell great and tasted delicious. It went with our Taco Tuesday well; with the cumin, it could be a taco filling, or, you can do what we did, and just serve over rice with broccoli on the side.

In a fit of desperation for something healthy with a complex mix of flavors, I tried the butternut squash galette from Catherine Newman, whom I've followed since she wrote for BabyCenter. Her good natured earthy crunchy recipes are always so appealing, and seem like they should fit right in to the lefty liberal town where I live. (I always felt out of it, since we ate processed food, like squishy white bread, or Italian food, and everyone else seemed to have brown bread and lettuce on their sandwiches and fruit in their lunches...but I digress.) I liked it but didn't love it, partly a function of not loving butternut squash (I know, but I still had one leftover from the CSA), and partly because the roasted onions were so great, I wanted a ton more of them in there. So I think I might play with this a little more with some different fillings to see how it goes. Next time, I'll toast the pecans first too. And I did like it even better for lunch the next day right out of the fridge.

And while it was Galette Day, I made the cherry galette from Dinner: A Love Story. It sounded so good and easy when I first read the recipe forever ago, I actually had the cherries. Mine was not as good looking as hers (of course I used a crust from a box) but mine also bubbled way over so I was glad I had foiled the pan. And then I tried to get the galette off the foil and was, well, foiled in the attempt. But it was a popular dessert among those in the house who eat fruit. Which makes three of us, for anyone counting.

On Saturday night, I tried one more thing that had been on my list, and I bit the bullet before the herbs went bad: the DALS Thai-ish Salmon. It was my first attempt at cooking with lemongrass, and shitakes, and it helped move along some Thai red curry paste that was in the fridge. It was mostly a hit--the Thai curry paste was really strong (to the point where I put in only 1/2 tsp to begin with and fished a lot of it out in a prescient moment). Usually my husband loves that but this time, he was grabbing for my son's milk. If I make it again (which I might, on a day I'm innundated with herbs) I'll skip the curry paste altogether. But it was easy, and different, and a one-pot meal (well, two, counting the rice).

By last Friday, I was out of cooking mojo, and was despairing a bit, when suddenly my older son said, "Mom? Can we have pesto quinoa for dinner? With strawberry smoothies?" And I felt like that made a lot of these stumbling efforts worth it: a vegan meal even picky eaters can love. (OK, less vegan for the kid who adds cheese on top. But still: a measure of success.)

And on a mostly different note: Does anyone out there use any money management software or programs? We started a free trial of PearBudget and boy howdy, that's an icy hand around the heart experience, entering every receipt. Still, instructive. And like a food diary, when I know I have to write it down later, whether due to laziness or embarrassment or something, it does make me think twice. Last week, before the trial? No problem plunking down $6.50 for a sushi and coke lunch. This week? I'll get something from the cabinet, thanks.

For more meal inspiration, try I'm an Organizing Junkie!


Mom24 said...

That cider chicken sounds interesting. Have you made it before? How tangy is it?

You know I love the plum chicken, for me, the jam I buy one jar does two recipes so it's about perfect. I completely agree about the scallions, it just adds something, doesn't it? Cashews would be wonderful.

I confess I have One Big Table too, I really like it as well. Yes, I *may* have a bit of a problem with buying cookbooks. I belong to a cookbook club where I buy most of them for $11--too good to pass up.

Hope you have a good week. I am so thankful that we are inching closer to spring.

MemeGRL said...

You'll hear about the chicken next week but as a preview: I had never made it before. It couldn't have been easier, which was a plus. And I scaled way back on the garlic sauce. And it was fine, but not great, and too spicy for my little guy. Not a failed experiment, but not going in the rotation either. Thanks for asking!