Sunday, March 1, 2009

MPM--In Like a Lion Edition

Greetings! After the lovely revelation that it's still light until 6, and some great 60-degree days, we woke up this morning to a lovely little dusting of snow and are now hunkering down for what could be a major storm. My mother was a teacher and always reminded me some of our best snowstorms happen in March. This could be one of them. Happily, we are well stocked with everything we need and all that flies off the shelves when storms come (milk, bread, toilet paper) so all I need to do today is round up the snowsuits again to prepare for what's probably one last round of snowy fun.

A few thoughts on last week.

I finally buckled down to the crockpot recipes I've been meaning to try for forever. The rutabega was starting to sprout and get ready to have baby rutebegas, it had been hanging around my kitchen so long!

First on the agenda: roasted winter root veggies. I was curious how this would go since I tend to think of roasting as dry and crockpots as wet, in general. One morning when I was too awake to go back to sleep, I started peeling and popped everything in the crockpot by 7am on low. By 10, I had to turn it off because they were so done, thanks to my impossibly hot slow cooker. As I had guessed, they were more braised than roasted, but were nice and tender. The other change I would make next time: even less salt (and I cut down from what she listed) and I would put the parsley on after. The parsley cooked in to a dark green goo, and I prefer it closer to its raw state.

The creamy crockpot risotto, on the other hand, was fantastic. I made it for Ash Wednesday dinner, which was a bit of a mistake; no meat is allowed for Catholics on Ash Wednesday, and that includes chicken broth. Oops. Fortunately, I had vegetable broth and other than being a bit on the pink side, it worked just fine. But in just 2 hours exactly (thanks to the superhot crockpot) I had some no-work risotto as good as any I've made on the stove. Note for anyone thinking of trying this: the hardest part of this is timing. Cook it too long, and it disintigrates. If it cools, it forms a semisolid that is hard to resurrect. Right out of the crockpot, as soon as it is finished, it is burn-the-roof-of-your-mouth hot, but when cooled enough to eat is the time to go for it. I paired it with the warm bean salad from The Splendid Table's How to Eat Supper, and while I liked that fine, it wasn't the transformative bean experience they suggested it would be. Still, one of the best bean recipes I've tried. And I do keep trying them for all the reasons we already know: so much better for you than meat, high fiber, cheap cheap cheap...and they are still beans. I'd still rather eat them as dip. (Put some minced rosemary and minced garlic over medium heat in some olive oil on the stove. Heat until fragrant. Pour in food processor with a can of cannelini beans and puree. Eat like hummus.)

While I was on a roll with the crockpot, I also tried the broccoli with toasted garlic and lemon. My husband loved it, which was nice. I thought it was a great way to make a ton of broccoli at once, so if I'm on veggie duty for a family dinner, this is likely to reappear. But for us, it was a lot, and I like it just as well when we put it in the microwave with a little olive oil and some pepper.

Also, as I was not one of the first in line at the Co-Op for the sale, I had to adjust last week's menu a bit. There was no ground turkey left, but there was ground beef, and ground pork, and, a big splurge, veal cutlets. I decided to go old school and fry them up like my mother used to, but I am desperately afraid of frying (probably a good thing in the end) so they absorbed too much oil because I am too worried my oil will explode to heat it to the proper frying temperature. Still, my kids each ate an entire cutlet themselves and were sorry that they could only have one each, so they clearly weren't too terrible.

And one last "found" recipe that I finally tried, lest the gruyere tragically mold in my fridge: the Baked Spinach with Gruyere from November's Real Simple . Oh. My. Goodness. Ok, really, with a cup each of whole milk and heavy cream, how bad can this be? Add six eggs and it is as much a quichey dinner as a side dish. I am auditioning recipes for Easter and this is a total winner.

On to this week:

Monday: Stuffed cabbage, kasha, salad

Tuesday: Pacific rim pork, rice, broccoli

Wednesday: Greek Turkey Burgers, Greek "salsa," salad, gruyere spinach

Thursday: Leftovers or freezer meal

Friday: Freezer meal or take-home pizza.

My husband is jetting off to a wedding this weekend (I'm staying home, thanks to the dog and her Very Expensive Emergency Surgery in January) so wish me luck next weekend. The kids will pine for him (yes, "the kids" will be pining) which tends to amplify my own missing him. I am so so spoiled that he rarely goes away, and that I have been able to pack the weekend with other people we love, but still, keep us in your thoughts.

Need more menu-planning inspiration? Go see I'm an Organizing Junkie for one of the biggest selections of menus on the web!


Kathleen said...

That risotto sounds yummy. I have to try it.

Anjali said...

Thanks for some splendid vegetarian recipes. That rissoto sounds like a winner. Do you think I could stir some chickpeas in? I'm trying to think of how I could make it more of a complete protein meal...The bean salad sounds good. Maybe I'll try them both together...

brandy101 said...

I am likely going to make my homemade porcini mushroom risotto for a lenten meal since i opened the box of vegetarian broth for my OTHER lenten fave, my roasted red pepper soup (which, I know you would never like because it is made with ...PEPPERS!)

All of our fave local pizza places have closed down on the past we are off pizza for a bit until we find something we really like. Just as well, because it is so fattening and I am trying to get back on track.

Speaking of pizza and lenten meals...have you tried the mushroom & white truffle flatbread from TJs? It is in the frozen section. It is VERY rich, but really delish, esp. when paired with the right wine and a fancier salad (say, arugala & parmesan)

MemeGRL said...

Anjali & Kathleen--by all means, try the risotto, but do be prepared to eat it Right Away. It does not cool off well, and does not store well. I am amending the entry to note that. Anjali, I'm sure you could add all kinds of things to it (veggies, beans, etc). or again, use the sides to do that. The How to Eat Supper bean dish was a good compliment to it (essentially, gently warm beans in olive oil with garlic and rosemary).

Brandy, YES, I love that flatbread and am hoping it stays around forever. The truffle oil totally sends it over the top, doesn't it?

DEHausfrau said...

Ooh, stuffed cabbage... and what will it be stuffed with? Thanks for the heads-up on the risottow, maybe I'll stick to the stovetop method.