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Make Ahead Meals + List Progress

I’m making progress on my list!

1) On Friday night I got a much-needed massage – it came as part of a Groupon, and also includes 7 drop-in workout classes I hope to start later this week.

2) Last night David and I processed a big batch of garden tomatoes. This is our first year having a stand alone freezer, thanks to David’s parents. We followed these directions on how to freeze tomatoes from your garden. I’m looking forward to using them in mid-winter sauces and soups.

3) We’ve begun cleaning and sanding the craigslist dresser for the hallway (more info about that later).

4) Also, this past week, I found some affordable recipes to make good freezer meals. These are the five I’m starting with:

• Spicy Pork Tinga Enchiladas (shown above)
• Taco Chicken Bowls
• Chicken Chili Verde
• Lentil & Sausage Stew
• Teriyaki Meatball Bowls

(The last four recipes come from a food blog called Budget Bytes, which has appetizing, step-by-step photos and also provides an interesting cost break-down of each ingredient). Around midweek I made a list of all the food I would need, and then Chloe and I went grocery shopping on Wednesday evening after dinner. On one hand it was nice to have a list to stick to – usually I just wander the aisles looking for things I hope my family will eat, not really thinking in terms of “meals.” That leads to lots of impulse buys, I can tell you. But having a list meant that if I forgot something, I had to go all the way to the other end of the store to get it. Luckily this just happened once, since I had organized the list by food type (meat, dairy, canned, dry and fruits & vegetables).

The first recipe I wanted to try was the Spicy Pork Tinga Enchiladas, planned for Thursday. Unfortunately, I didn’t look at the recipe until the afternoon, and then noticed it required 6-8 hours in the crock pot. Bummer. Lucky for us, friends invited us over to dinner that night. On Friday, I forgot again about starting the crockpot, and instead made salmon using the Teriyaki Glaze (yum!) from the Meatball recipe, which I paired with rice and vegetables. On Saturday, I forgot again and at the last minute decided to use this recipe for Parmesean Crusted Chicken. It was super-easy and quick, and will definitely go on my make-again list. The leftover chicken was perfect in today’s lunch of chicken salad sandwiches.

This morning, I finally remembered to prep the ingredients and start the crockpot (good thing I set the alarm on my phone!). Everything is in there simmering as I write, and the smell of slow-cooked pork and chipotle peppers is beginning to waft through the house. It makes a pretty large batch, and I’m thinking there will be enough for dinner, leftovers tomorrow, plus enough to freeze at least one or two meals. I’m pretty excited!

P.S. Can you imagine meal planning an entire month of meals? That is what Erica at Confessions of a Homeschooler does. She’s posted her meal plan for the month of September here. It was really inspiring to see the entire month at a glance, and gave me recipe ideas to add to my list (Tater Tot Casserole anyone?).

 

 

 


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Christmas Recap

I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas!

We are spending the holidays with Grandma and Grandpa in Colorado. Sadly, there is no snow to be seen this week, but we did get an incredible surprise visit from Santa on Christmas Day. I’m actually not sure who was more shocked, Chloe and her cousin Paolo, or us parents. Although Chloe has seen pictures of Santa, and waved to him briefly during a short trip to the mall, she was still a little wary and didn’t want to leave the safety of daddy’s arms. Maybe next year. However, both kids made out like bandits in the gift department, including books and much desired Lego sets.

Christmas dinner was also a real treat – Roast pheasant and quail with apricots and dates (caught earlier in the hunting season by Grandpa) and prepared by Grandma Sandy and Chloe’s Aunt Liza, along with wild rice, toasted parmesean bread and procuitto-wrapped asparagus and gruyere. Dessert was freshly made chocolate peanut butter balls using Chloe’s Great Grandma Vera’s family recipe. Certainly a holiday meal to remember!


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Le Pigeon

Last night, David and I enjoyed an amazing anniversary dinner (only a month late) at Le Pigeon as a treat from David’s parents. Le Pigeon is probably the tiniest restaurant I know, and we had an excellent view of the food preparation from the bar seating that surrounded the kitchen area (the photo above was our same view from where we were sitting).

Since I like to try new things, I was happy to actually order pigeon for the first time (pan fried, with fois gras, grapes, and riesling). The meat was surprisingly dark and flavorful, just a little bit gamey, the breast better than the legs in my opinion. The pigeon starter was followed by a rich and tasty veal paprikash with gnocchi for me and prosciutto wrapped pork for David. For dessert David chose the creme brulee paired with chocolate shortbread cookie and espresso pot de creme (OMG!), and I ordered the creme fraiche panna cotta with blueberries and candied orange peel. While very beautiful and fresh, the panna cotta was too delicately flavored after my rich entree. David gallantly helped me out with it and I finished off his dreamy pot de creme. Such good food in every bite, and really neat to see the attention paid to each dish by the chefs. I hope we’ll get to eat here again.


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Cashew Crusted Halibut

Having the grandparents around to help with the baby frees up a lot more time for cooking. Thanks to a generous trip to Costco, we enjoyed a delicious Easter dinner of cashew-encrusted halibut, organic broccoli sauteed in toasted sesame oil and mashed potatoes. We slightly adapted this recipe and David cooked the fillets to a crunchy golden perfection.

Cashew Crusted Halibut
4-8 oz. Alaskan halibut Fillets (skinless)
2 eggs
1/4 C. water

Breading
1 3/4 C. Japanese “Panko” breadcrumbs
1 C. roasted cashews
1 tbsp. sesame seeds
Salt and pepper to taste
1 C. all-purpose flour

Crush the cashews in a food processor. Combine all breading ingredients in a bowl. Make egg wash with 2 eggs and 1/4 cup of water. Season Halibut with salt and pepper then dust with flour, dip in egg wash, and then in the breading. Sauté in canola oil over medium heat until golden on each side, then drain briefly on paper towels. Finish in a pre-heated 350-degree oven until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.

A good resource for other ways to cook halibut can be found here.


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February’s Recipe: Senegal Stew

The new recipe we tried this month was Senegal Stew. I had been reading Organic and Chic and found a recipe with millet, which I had heard of, but never tasted. It is a healthy, whole grain, and a staple in many parts of the world. However, in the U.S. we mostly know it as a component in bird and cattle feed.

The other reason I chose this stew (besides the fact that I liked how exotic it sounded), was that the other main ingredients – yams and/or sweet potato, rutabaga, cabbage, carrots and chickpeas – seemed to make it an appropriate choice for February, the bonus being that it calls for a little peanut butter, which my husband loves.

Surprisingly, I found the meal to be rather average. The millet takes as long to cook as rice, plus the grains need to be dry roasted first, for best results. Personally, for the size and texture, I prefer couscous, which is much faster to cook, or quinoa which has a better texture. The stew itself was mild and sweeter than I expected. David thought it was very good, and Chloe enjoyed some of it, too. I have some leftover uncooked millet, so I might try adding it to bread or another recipe, to give it another try.

Related posts: January’s recipe, 2010 goals


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On the grill

It has been so hot here lately that cooking inside seems like torture. Last night David picked some fresh plums off our neighbors tree and made an awesome dinner on the grill – pork skewers with sweet chili sauce and grilled plums. Then we added a side of quinoa that I had made earlier. What a delicious summer evening treat!


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Free Snowflake Placecards

free snowflace placecards

free snowflace placecards

Okay, a little late getting these Free Snowflake Placecards posted. I think, in the future, I’d be better off moving these posts to Monday instead of Sunday!

It is very rare to see placecards used, but I think they are a really nice way of adding that little something extra to a nicely set holiday table. Although they are traditionally used to designate a person’s name for each place setting, they would also be a handy and elegant way to label the different dishes on a buffet table (more so in the case of food allergies, etc).

After dinner, there might even be other uses for that little piece of paper, perhaps as a mini-scorecard for a game, to use for placecard origami, or, with Thanksgiving this week, you could even have everyone write down something they’re thankful for.

Check back next Sunday Monday for the next in a series of weekly Holiday downloads.

Week 1 – Free Holiday Gift Checklist

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