I really should plan our weekly meals out more often. Sometimes I just stock the house with food we like and we end up winging it and making it work. But the issue is when I do that- I often to buy things we don’t use in time or doesn’t go with anything else in house. (Sometimes the supermarket greatness makes me impulse buyer. Yes, I’ve been that person to buy 10 cans of olives when they are on sale for a dollar.) So, trying to be smarter about our food budget- this weekend I started going through my cookbooks and magazine recipes. Here were the three I’ve made this week:
Sunday Night: (Betty Crocker)
Last time I was home, my mom let me take her 1993 Betty Crocker New Choices Cookbook. I picked up this vegetarian gem, which just happens to be a low fat, low cholesterol, low calories, and high in fiber recipe.
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
1 cup of chopped onion (about 1 large)
1 clove garlic, finely chopped (uh, I used 4 cloves)
2 cups coarsely chopped potatoes (about two medium)
1 cup dried lentils
¼ cup chopped fresh parsley
3 cups of water
½ teaspoon salt (I used sea salt)
½ teaspoon cumin
¼ teaspoon of pepper
¼ teaspoon of ground mace (Had to buy- ugh. Since when does a spice cost 10 dollars?… must find more recipes to justify this cost)
8 ounces small mushrooms, cut into halves
1 can (28 ounces) whole tomatoes, un-drained.
Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Cook onion and garlic in oil, stirring frequently, until onion is tender. Stir in remaining ingredients; break up tomatoes. Heat to boiling; reduce heat. Cover and simmer about 40 minutes, stirring occasionally, until potatoes are tender. (6 servings).
I loved the way this made my house smell. I thought the prep was easy and was glad that it was healthy for me. And it was good with out cheese (yes, for some reason, I like to think everything is better with cheese). Flavor was great- I think next time, I would cut my potatoes differently (I made potato sticks.) The hubby, who grew up eating Arabic lentil meals was more of a critic. “No meat?… It’s best with meat” and “I thought the potatoes were slightly underdone”. My coworker loved the potatoes so meh. Obviously, I can tinker with it next time.
Tuesday Night: (Martha Stewart)
Asian Noodle Salad with Chicken and Cilantro
I love ginger. The smell, the taste, the texture and the health benefits. And I’ve been looking for ways to use it more. Plus, I have this Asian mart right by me, where the ginger is bigger than my head. So when I saw this in my monthly Everyday Food- I wanted to try. It was pretty easy to put together- but I realized- I have no freaking clue on how to de-meat a rotisserie chicken. And at 7 p.m. at night- I didn’t care- I zoned in until I think I had four cups. That poor carcass didn’t even have a chance.
Ingredients: Serves 4
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 jalapeno chile, minced (ribs and seeds removed for less heat if desired)
- 3 tablespoons minced fresh ginger
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
- 1/4 cup dark-brown sugar
- 3/4 cup rice vinegar
- 4 cups shredded rotisserie chicken, skin and bones discarded (from 1 whole chicken), room temperature
- 1 package (8.8 ounces) cellophane (bean-thread) noodles, prepared according to package instructions
- 1 English cucumber, cut into 3-inch sticks
- 2 cups fresh cilantro leaves
- In a small saucepan, heat oil over medium. Add jalapeno, ginger, and garlic. Season with salt and pepper and cook, stirring, until garlic is golden, 2 to 3 minutes. Add sugar and vinegar and cook until sauce is slightly thickened, about 6 minutes. Refrigerate until cool, at least 15 minutes (or up to 1 week).
- Combine chicken, noodles, cucumber, and cilantro. Drizzle with dressing just before serving.
Hubby ate this and loved it. He even said it was perfect even two days later. I liked it because it was so different. And I have friends that have lots of food restrictions, and I could make this meal for them. Thus, it’s a keeper.
Wednesday Night (Rachel Ray)
Drunken Tuscan Pasta
- 1 (750 ml) bottle tuscan red table wine (Rosso di Montalcino or Chianti) *Um. I just picked up a cheap bottle of red.
- coarse salt
- 1 lb bucatini pasta or spaghetti or perciatelli
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 lb deli-sliced pancetta * I just used the Morning Star Bacon.
- 3 portabella mushroom caps, thinly sliced
- 2-3 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves finely chopped *Not a fan of rosemary- so I used fresh basil and chives.
- 4 garlic cloves, chopped
- red pepper flakes (a couple of pinches)
- 4-5 cups chopped chard leaves or escarole or spinach or kale *I bought Kale for the first time.
- black pepper
- 1/4 teaspoon grated fresh nutmeg
- grated parmigiano-reggiano cheese * Eh, too expensive- so I had some other three cheese blend that worked just fine
1. Pour the entire bottle of wine into a large pan; add water and fill the pot up as you would to cook pasta.
2. Bring the wine and water to a boil over high heat.
3. When the liquids boil, add salt and the pasta; cook to al dente. (you will use some of the cooking liquid later).
4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat; add 2 tablespoons of olive oil; then chop and add the pancetta.
5. Brown the pieces until they are golden at the edges and transfer them to a paper-towel lined plate.
6. Add the mushrooms to the olive oil in the same skillet; season with rosemary; cook 6-8 minutes until deeply golden.
7. Push the mushrooms to the sides of the skillet; add in the garlic and red pepper flakes; cook for a minute or so, then toss the mushrooms together with the garlic.
8. Add the greens to the pan; season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg.
9. When the greens have wilted down, add a couple ladles of the starchy pasta cooking liquid to the pan; cook for a minute to reduce it a little.
10. Drain pasta well and add it to the skillet.
11. Add in the pancetta and a handful of cheese to the pan; toss the pasta for a minute or so to allow it to absorb the remaining liquid.
12. Adjust the seasonings and serve; pass the extra cheese at the table.
Can I just say… cooking with a bottle of wine awesome- why didn’t I think about that before? Though, I couldn’t really taste the wine but the hubby could. I liked it- but I think next time I make this I would use maybe spinach or escarole just to see the difference. Also, I thought I just use the fake-on because I thought pancetta would hurt the hubby’s tummy. Though he said it wouldn’t- so next time, I’ll actually buy it. Also this says four servings, but honestly, it felt like 6 to me.
So, I still don’t know if I’m a Betty, a Martha or a Rachel Ray. But I still enjoyed this week’s culinary adventures.
Speaking of culinary adventures- I just finished reading Julie & Julia. I felt very trendy reading it… and like I should have read it before it was a movie deal. Ha. My sister and mom sent me the same article from the Detroit Free Press:
It was a cute book. Though, if you read it and liked it- read My Life in France also. Both are adventures that your taste buds will enjoy.
The only thing about J&J… is Julie was kinda too bitchy at points. Like I just felt though she was having a professional and personal identity crisis- I kept thinking- do you have be such a bitch to everyone? I honestly had a hard time liking her character until the end. Anyways- I’m glad that she’s successful though (side note- kinda shocked that she hasn’t had a baby yet- and she’s 36 now- but eh. It’s probably because it was talked so much about in the book).
Anyways – the point is she found her foodie niche and ran with it.
And that’s what I’ve been thinking about for months.
What will be my foodie niche?
Until then, I think I’ll add the Art of French Cooking to my Christmas List. J&J made me want cook with liver. Hopefully, there is a recipe with liver and olives.