Sunday, March 6, 2011


Last week was my 400th post. That's a lot of cooking (though there are lots of random posts from the beginning). It's a sadly small little list of "Recipes That Worked" over there for that many posts, but hey, that's why I keep trying. This week's recipe's first, last week's experiences (and Lenten musings) below:

Sunday: Crazy Jane's chicken, broccoli (still wanting to try the Around My French Table version), something from my starch cabinet because wow, there's a lot of random stuff in there. Spinach salad at my husband's request.

Monday: Dinner A'Fare pork medallions in honey balsamic glaze (no idea how long that was in the freezer but I was happy to find it there); applesauce (of course); sweet potato, probably mashed with miso, as I'm addicted.

Tuesday: Mardi Gras! We'll be having a pancake supper one way or another, either at our church or at our house. Given my husband's hours lately, I think we'll be making them at home but we'll see how it goes. If it's at home: there will be bacon.

Wednesday: I'm hosting a meeting at my house so easy freezer meals: mac & cheese for Little Picky and Dad, mushroom flatbread for older son and me. (It's also Ash Wednesday so there is no call for anything bigger.)

Thursday: Spaghetti and meatballs if I'm coordinated, or three days of meat-free eating if I'm not.

Friday: Ah, meat-free Lenten Fridays. I have not missed you though I think I am better prepared for them this year. Boys will have pesto quinoa. Grownups will have that either the miso fish or a Caribbean fish recipe...details to follow. Either way, with rice.

Last week:

I got around to making the steamed lemon spinach from last week on Monday. It was based on another Around My French Table recipe. I had to fake it a bit since I didn't have nearly as much spinach as she recommended but it was good. I liked the lemon, and I liked using my steamer basket, which I almost never have used, ever, since I never quite got how. But YouTube helped (and didn't, with a ton of "how to use a steamer basket" videos that never actually showed people using steamer baskets), and it was a good experiment. I liked that it used a lot less oil than I usually do, and made it again to serve with the lemon-rosemary chicken (see below). I am not totally sold on steaming as it seems like a lot of parts, compared to just sauteeing. But it was a good experiment.

Monday was the cider vinegar chicken night. It got bonus points for easy, but was not a big hit with the family. I get a pat on the back for trying new things, but for you, the easiest chicken recipe ever. I thank my sister-in-law for this "recipe" for Jane's Crazy Chicken: Put as many boneless skinless breasts as you feel like making in any roasting container. (Roasting pan, pyrex dish, whatever.) Sprinkle liberally with Jane's Crazy Salt. Cover roasting container with foil. Bake at 375 for 45-55 min. or until chicken has reached 165 internal temperature. Note: cover well, or these will dry out. But if the foil does its job, they stay very moist, and even with lots of Jane's Crazy Salt, the flavor is still pretty mild. I also served this with the mustard potato salad from DALS, which I realized is one of my "accidental vegan" recipes...another for the list. Yum.

Big hit of the week (with the grownups): Pioneer Woman's spinach and mushroom quesadillas. Fontina's price is laughably high for this dish, though if I ever see it on discount, I'll try it. But this--this was a winner. We were enjoying them all the way while also thinking of how good it would be with black beans, or the sweet potato filling from the Moosewood recipe. For my veggie friends who look at my meat recipes longingly--this one's for you.

And in the "better late than never" department, the week after Christmas, I'd bought a can of black-eyed peas, thinking I'd make a half-batch of Katie Lee's Hoppin' John for our annual New Year's Day party. That didn't happen. But I got tired of seeing that can hanging around, so I tracked down the recipe, started making it, realized I didn't have scallions or parsley, and waited until I did. To my surprise, my husband loved it. I thought it was fine but it didn't make my taste buds sing. But it was easy and healthy (well, depending how much cheese you add) and while I can't promise I'll be making this every week, it will definitely make more than once-a-year appearances. With the rice, it's actually an excellent Lenten Friday supper.

I hit a big sale + coupon on chicken so we were pretty chicken heavy this week. I tried a recipe based on Cooking Light this month, with breasts tossed with lemon juice, lemon zest, rosemary, fennel seeds (lightly crushed, leftover from another recipe--totally skippable here), salt, pepper, and olive oil, then roasted for 35 minutes at 425. I loved the speed and it was juicy, but overall, a bit of a fail. Since it was only coated and not marinated, it didn't flavor the chicken much; and while that's usually a selling point with my kids, all the rosemary and fennel seed on the outside freaked them out. But it was fine and a flavor combo I like a lot. The other new chicken recipe we tried was the Chicken Chili from DALS. Again, I had everything I needed for this, so it was convenient, and it couldn't have been easier. I'm not sure I'm sold on the cinnamon, and I cut back on the chili powder and regret that decision. But my husband and I loved it and will definitely add it to the repertoire.

And not to close on a totally gross note, but here we are: my older son now won't eat hot dogs. He either had a virus or too much excitement after a Kids' Night Out last week but whatever it was--he's blaming it on the hot dog. And while part of me rejoices (hot dogs skeeve me out, though I do have one or two a year at a baseball game, but I immediately regret it), there goes Yet Another Thing that both kids would eat. Insert .gif of me banging my head against a wall here.

Lent starts this week, with the countdown to Easter and is a great time for getting the spiritual house in order. This year, I'm playing around with a few ideas, one of which is to get my actual house in order too. I love the 40 Bags in 40 Days Challenge...if by "love" I mean "am petrified by but know it's important to just do." I read about it on Clover Lane, one of the "mom blogs" I found and am not even sure how or where but I just enjoy. These moms of five kids (like my mother in law, among others) really attract me and inspire me to do more and better around our house. And this purging is something I've been putting off for a while, but I am hoping the spiritual component will help continue to inspire me through it. I have a few charities I think could use some of the things we have (Mothers' Home for some of the baby items, Family Court's waiting room for the toys, Bernadine Center for the food, the local animal shelter for some of the unwearable/undonatable textiles, etc.). Not that there won't be plenty of trash, too... I hate letting things go but it's time. It's beyond time. I have issues around it and always have but I truly want to break the cycle here. I am not planning to update it here but might do a different blog on the purge. I'm almost cheating: I am including my storage unit here. That's 40 bags right there. I have other Lenten goals as well but that's enough digression for now.

Another idea is more food related, and lifted from SortaCrunchy, who is dedicating her Lent to 40 Days of Community...once a week, have a meal with people you've never shared a meal with before. I'm mulling that one over too. If you don't count the July 4 picnic, that's most of my neighbors, so I might just simplify to "finally do the street-wide WedSpag you've been talking about for two years now." Which would also work for me. Not a "sacrifice" exactly...but on the right road.

For food inspiration (and organizing inspiration--I know the 40 bags challenge is right up Laura's alley!) check out I'm an Organizing Junkie!


Anjali said...

Wow! Sounds like a busy cooking week.

I know what you mean about the hot dogs. It is HARD when suddenly a "safe" meal for all the kids no longer is.

Hope he gives up his grudge soon!

Mom24 said...

Very busy week! You inspire me.

I completely empathize with losing another food they'll eat. In our case, Jacob ended up getting violently ill after NY strip and has now crossed those off the list. It doesn't come up often, granted, but it makes me crazy he won't even try them again. :)

My kids won't eat hot dogs anymore either, if that helps at all. The only time it bothers me is during the summer, our pool does $.50 hot dog nights every Tuesday, what could be a cheap dinner out at the pool every week doesn't work for us. I know it's not exactly a tragedy that they won't eat hot dogs, but it would be lovely to have that one night I didn't have to cook.