Saturday, July 16, 2011


Remember the old joke "If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?" One answer of course is "pilgrims." But another is "JuneBugs," and JuneBugs bring Julilacs. Yes, my brain is melting from the heat. At least I got unlazy and put the pictures back on the computer. This week:

Monday: Grilled chicken (grilled on Sunday), CSA veggies

Tuesday: Taco Tuesday! Including the leftover black bean tacos from last week.

Wednesday: My mother-in-law's birthday. Out for Chinese--yum.

Thursday: Leftovers, including extra-easy chili (see sidebar) from the weekend.

Friday: Freezer meal. We'll see what that looks like; the boys have been clamoring for the truffle mushroom pizza.

Last week, it was produce-a-go-go here, with yummy thing after yummy thing rolling in to the house. The week was full of tomato sandwiches and a few experiments. Well, now that I'm writing them all down, more than a few. But they were all easy (except for maybe lots of chopping for the salads) so it didn't feel so overwhelming day-to-day.

One was this cucumber-cilantro salad from my CSA. It was a fine use of a lot of stuff in my fridge, but it wasn't a big hit. I had high hopes for the cucumber salad with lime and cilantro after that disappointment. That was better though not quite as complex as I might have wanted. Maybe I'll use peanut or coconut oil next time (and I didn't have the mustard seeds and used powder instead). I also added some rice vinegar to it, which gave it too much liquid but much better flavor (for my taste buds).

Not disappointing at all: Detox Soup. (See sidebar for link.) On a 99-degree day, pure bliss. Love love love this soup.

In what is also a shocking twist for me, I winged it a little in the kitchen with something. I made the Smitten Kitchen Sour Cherry Compote last week and loved it. This week, among other things in our fruit share, we got white currants. They were beautiful to look at but not totally pleasant to eat plain, so I halved the compote syrup recipe and added the currants. It wasn't as amazing as the cherries but it was way better than composting them! And that's not even quite fair-they had a great little sweet-sour thing going on, and, as someone on the web pointed out, the white currants have a way of bringing out the most complex directions. ("Take your embroidery scissors and make a tiny slit in the skin of the fruit, and pull out the seed without ruining the delicate shape and beautiful look of the fruit..." I'm not kidding.) So this was good: practice making the good syrup, and experimenting with a new fruit. Success, even if the cherries were better.

I did do the overnight black beans for taco Tuesday. It really was crazy simple--2:1 water:beans, a bay leaf, some garlic salt, and a half an onion chopped. I did not sautee it first, as I wasn't quite sure that's what was called for, and at 11pm, with the Daily Show coming on, and my brain going off, I had no interest and figured 12 hours on low should do it. Ten hours later, I realized that I didn't have enough water and it was starting to burn on the sides. But--the positive was: I don't like watery beans, so the consistency was perfect, and it was cheap and easy and I loved it and used it for black bean tacos (see sidebar for link) for myself on Taco Tuesday. Yum.

I wasn't inspired to sautee those onions (which worked out totally fine) but I did get inspired by this post at (surprise) Dinner: A Love Story to caramelize my onions that were suddenly all over my house. It takes me forever to caramelize them and they don't even ever get to that crazy brown color (I am figuring it is the balsamic vinegar that gets that lovely gold) so I just let them hang out while I did other things. And then I had these lovely onions and was going bananas trying to figure out what to do with them. Pizza? Pasta? Straight from the container? So I tried all of the above and they were all heaven.

I tried to make a truce with Trader Joe's pizza dough. I left it out for 30 minutes and took my time pressing it out around the cookie sheet. I used it to try this cheesy zucchini pizza, which looked amazing when my friend made it. I figured no way the kids would eat it; they don't even like regular homemade pizza. But I had those zukes ready to expire in my fridge, so I gave it a whirl. I wish I had gotten the zucchini drier. But the crust was a success, and the pizza was excellent. I skipped the red pepper flakes and was sorry. It needs...something. But I'm not totally sure what. Still--I'll make this again. Because---BOTH BOYS ATE IT! The younger (Mr. Beige) didn't love it but ate the whole (very small) piece while he complained. The older gave it a thumb-up-a-little-past-halfway, but I'll take it.

In the interest of "keep or skip?" for my mini crock pot, I tried the pesto bean spread for my Mothers & More meeting. And in the shock of my week, both boys ate that too! It was pesto, and they ate it on bread or chips, and were happy to do so. I am doing a happy dance of protein over here. (I think the older is in a growth spurt--he snarfed a bag of pistachios too, and between that, the cheese, and the beans...I predict new shoes next month.)

We also made the chocolate chip bread again. This time, we remembered the chips! I also used whole milk instead of our usual 1%. I added the sprinkle of whole-wheat flour before checking but the dough came together so much better this time I don't think I would have needed it. I wasn't crazy about it but the kids loved it. I also kept the chocolate chunks (what I had) in the freezer so when I added them they would have a little more stability. This won't become an everyday bread but for a treat every once in a while, it's great, and it doesn't require the work (and heating the kitchen) that chocolate chip cookies do.

The whole milk was in the house for a French toast casserole I had intended to make, but didn't, so I used it to make yogurt. (And about now: let the record show, we also went to the pool, had several playdates, and did other fun stuff. I was really not tethered to the kitchen at all.) And once I made yogurt, I drained it for the whey to make no-knead bread...yes, I have a problem here. Actually I made two loaves, one with regular flour, the other with whole-wheat as an experiment. The regular flour one was so runny, I almost didn't want to put it in to bake. It had worked beautifully with the whey before so I'm not sure what went wrong. The crust was awesome but it wasn't as poofy. Then I realized: I'd used the bread machine yeast. I didn't think there was a big difference. Whoops.

A friend of mine hosted a brunch (hence the French toast casserole I was hoping to make) and her casserole was awesome, so I'm posting it here so I have the recipe on the blog when I need it!

Colleen's Do-Ahead Breakfast Bake

Prep: 15 min

Chill: at least 4 hours

Bake: 35 min

Stand: 10 min

1 to 2 cups diced fully cooked ham (I had used smoked turkey)

2 packages (6.0 ounces each) Betty Crocker hash brown potatoes

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (about 1 cup) - I omitted this

1 tablespoon instant chopped onion

2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (8 ounces)

3 cups milk

1 cup bisquick

½ teaspoon salt

4 eggs

1. Grease rectangular baking dish, 13x9x2 inches. Mix ham, potatoes, bell pepper, onion and 1 cup of the cheese. Spread in baking dish.

2. Stir milk, bisquick, salt and eggs until blended. Pour over potato mixture. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover and refrigerate at least 4 hours but no longer than 24 hours.

3. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Uncover and bake 30 to 35 minutes or until light golden brown around edges and cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

There are supposed to be 12 servings.

That's it for the week...check out I'm an Organizing Junkie! for a much bigger collection of recipe ideas!


Shawn & Holli said...

Hi! Just found you through crockpot365. Noticed you also follow Living with Leukemia. Small world. I grew up with Brandon :)

Mom24 said...

I love brunch! The casserole sounds yummy.

I love carmelized onions too. :) Try a burger brushed with fig jam, topped with carmelized onions. Yum!

The pesto bean dip is interesting, I'm going to have to check that out.