Sunday, January 26, 2014

This Is the Snow that Never Ends

It just goes on and on and comes and snows back down again...

Hey from the tundra! Our Flat Stanley went to visit Alaska and it was warmer there than here. That is not ok. (Unless, of course, you are Flat Stanley.)

Still in soup mode here, and still in cabinet clean out mode here, so while no children will eat it, I am making slow cooker Thai chicken soup this week. Also...

Monday: I never got to the slow cooker pork last week so hooray, that's on tap. With rice and green beans.

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Maple-Dijon Chicken (also known as man pleasing chicken), rice

Friday: Shrimp and Feta (again, to finish the feta), rice,

As to last week...

Snow days threw us off (hence some of the same stuff this week). We had a great five day weekend, though; if I hadn't been trying to get to my conference it would have been nothing but joy. (The conference went well in the end for the parts I could get to.) Huge snow fort: check. Sledding with jump hill: check. Using up random cocoas: check. It was bliss.

I really just need to give up on the apricot chicken. It is not happening.

Soup: also not happening. But I love it, so it stays in the rotation.

Wishing you a happy and warm week! We are donating lots of things to the Goodwill and the SPCA, thinking about others not as lucky as we are, who are cozied up on sofas with blankets and books and each other.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

The Magic of the Immersion Blender

While it looks vaguely like a euphemism, the immersion blender is such a key item in my kitchen. It really does the job like nothing else. Since I was the only one in our house who would eat the sweet potato and lentil soup, I shared some with friends who couldn't believe it didn't have cream. So it's been my kitchen secret for a while.

My mother in law was having a not-dangerous-but-tiring medical day on Wednesday, and we were up for the dinner shift. I thought the Dinner: A Love Story tomato and white bean soup would be a good, nourishing but not challenging dish to make for her. Longtime readers with a fetish for details will remember that I am not a "soak the beans" person, so I experimented (!!!) with using two cans of cannellini beans instead. It came together beautifully. I didn't have the bacon (well, defrosted) so I went without and did a lighter take. Result? Unreal. I loved it and couldn't stop eating it once I had my taste. My version:

Olive oil-one carrot-one stalk celery-one half onion--chopped and put in the soup pan together with salt, pepper, and a little rosemary, dried from my plant outside. I skipped the bacon, and while my first thought was, Mmm, bacon would've helped this, on second thought, for this batch--I'm not sorry.
When the veggies were soft, I added the whole 14 oz can of tomatoes, then drained and rinsed 2 cans of cannelloni beans. I saved a few and added the rest, plus one can of chicken stock (could easily be veggie). I heated everything through and used the immersion blender. It came up pinkish-orange and I wasn't sure what would happen with the flavor. But as it turned out, the beans gave it a very smooth texture and it was just right. I skipped the rest of the dinner I'd made that night and just had the soup.

One more note: I made the Joanne's Pork Tenderloin last week and the boys were over the moon. They ate almost all of it the first day, scotching the leftovers plan but still making me very happy. If you are pork eaters and have not tried this yet, do not delay.

This week: I am attending a conference on Wednesday and Thursday. No idea how this is going to work. Deep breaths. Wish me luck.

Monday: roasted turkey breast (with Montreal seasoning like my husband made for our ersatz Thanksgiving leftovers), sweet potatoes, salad

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti

Thursday: Slow cooker pork tenderloin I found in the freezer, wahoo! roasted potatoes with rosemary, green beans

Friday: crying uncle and sending for pizza; after all this, I have training at 6pm over the web.

Wishing you a great week!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Soup Season

Wow, do I ever wish my kids ate soup. All that polar vortexing really makes you crave some hot-all-the-way-down soup. Even our warm day was so rainy my husband came home asking for soup and so I am exploring some new recipes.

I am trying this bean soup the short way (i.e., canned), and I am so intrigued by the "boiled water soup" at Tipsy Baker that I bought the sage leaves. As she said--everything else I already had, so really, $1.69 extra at Trader Joe's shouldn't break the bank for the week.

Maybe this will be the year the kids start eating soup. A mom can dream.

This week:

Monday: Joanne's Pork Tenderloin, roasted potatoes, apples or applesauce

Tuesday: Tacos

Wednesday: Spaghetti (with sausage and sauce for my husband)

Thursday: leftovers

Friday: Apricot Chicken, rice, salad

One amazing thing this week; now that we have Kindles I've rediscovered my Kindle books and one is the Dinner: A Love Story book. One of the recipes in it is the shrimp and feta bake, which she admits will lose lots of people with the seafood + cheese action. Ignore that "problem." This was awesome and with pre-peeled shrimp, came together very quickly. I chopped three garlic cloves because that's how we roll here, and I could have put on lots more feta than I did and still been very happy. Alas our children didn't eat it but they had Crazy Jane's chicken and the rice we served the shrimp over and no one went hungry.

Nothing exotic but it's busy right now and I am in maintenance mode. Hoping you are having a good week and staying warm wherever you are!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

The Whole Christmas Season

Unlike the Grinch, I do not hate the season, and in fact love being Catholic and having the 12 days. When I was little, I received one gift a day through the season, making me quite the envy of my peers. But I got less on Christmas, so it probably evened out. We are trying to take our 12 days kind of easy this year for all kinds of reasons, and just cozying in.

Note for next year: on the 28th, the day after all the celebrations were done, we had Crazy Jane's chicken, apples/applesauce, and a salad. It was so well received by everyone, the kids asked for seconds, and after all the days of rich party food, something simple was incredibly welcome.

I made it with an ulterior motive in mind: since Santa brought Kindles, I've been perusing all my Kindle books, including the Dinner: A Love Story book. One of the early recipes in there is chicken pot pie with sweet potatoes, so it made making that a breeze. I used a Trader Joe's pie crust from the freezer and it was a good cold-rainy-Sunday meal for those of us who would eat it (that would be the grownups).

So, one of the reasons for the healthier food kick is that my husband has shingles on his scalp. It was driving him crazy and the pain is just awful at times, which is horrible to live with in the first or second person. This is the second time this year he's gotten horribly ill just in time for a weeklong vacation. Hmm. So food that seems to whisper "there, there" and soothe is the food of the moment.

Monday: Epiphany! We have no traditional Epiphany food traditions but I will make an ersatz king cake (which is to say, a bundt cake--shaped like a crown, right?--with alas no other meaningful things with it), and tacos (since Tuesday we are busy).

Tuesday: Lego build, woo! Of course, this assumes that the roads are clear. We, like most of the east coast, are in quite a post-snow cold snap as I write. And as much as I love Lego builds, I am not risking the family's safety for one.

Wednesday: spaghetti

Thursday: Dinner: A Love Story shrimp-tomato-feta sounds amazing to me in this cold snap. No idea what the kids will eat but there are always apples in the house. (I'm kidding. Sort of. I feel like you can add an apple to anything and make it a meal.) They will probably have quinoa with pesto.

Friday: probably freezer food.

So far, by the way, we are loving the Kindles (we got the entry level tablet styles) for what we wanted them for--reading the Kindle books I've collected (knowing I'd go this way eventually) and letting the kids play. The Silk browser is kinda lousy for most things (Facebook, blog updates ahem), but the FreeTime mode is exactly what I was looking for for the boys, who are 8 and 10 but fairly media-shielded, and there is no camera, microphone, etc.

Wishing you an easy settling in to the new year!