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Sunday, October 31, 2010

Menu Plan: October 31 - November 6

Well, the gnocchi alla Romana last week was a huge hit. I doubled everything except the nutmeg, kept that at the original quantity, and just cut them into squares rather than the pretty circles. It was faster that way and absolutely delicious. I didn't have to double the cooling time, as I just used a larger pan. Everyone loved it from Rich to Yasmina and it was very simple to make. Making the dough ahead helps, and my sauce can be made ahead and frozen if you want.

We have a holiday from school this week, because of All Saints. We will be making pretzels, which are traditional for All Saints and for Lent, and going to a party with some other homeschoolers dressed as saints to play games, do crafts and eat all sorts of good things. Our children wanted us to do our pumpkin carving at the party, but I didn't think there would be enough time, so we'll do that at home.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Weekly Recipes: October 30

I've been having very busy weeks so I'm sorry, but I haven't been editing my recipes until late recently.

Chicken and Potato Casserole

2 pounds potatoes (I used our French fingerlings), scrubbed and thinly sliced
1 large onion, peeled and thinly sliced
3 cups cooked chicken, in bite sized pieces
Herbes de Provence
Salt
2 cups chicken broth
3 tablespoons Dijon mustard
4 cloves garlic, minced

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Layer the potatoes, then onion, then chicken in a 9" X 13" baking pan. Sprinkle with herbes de Provence and salt. Repeat with the next layer of potatoes, onions, chicken, herbs and salt. Make a total of three layers, then top with a layer of sliced potatoes. Sprinkle with more of the herbs and salt.

Whisk together the chicken broth, Dijon mustard and garlic (I poured the chicken broth into an almost empty jar of mustard and shook it all up) and pour over the top of the casserole. Press the top layer of potatoes down with a spatula.

Bake for 45 minutes. Serve hot.


Eggplant & Tomato Pasta Sauce


The pasta can be made during the time it takes to put this together, so it is a nice, quick dinner. It is great to make when you are in a hurry or have little time or energy.


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, diced
8 cloves garlic, minced
3 medium eggplant
1 cup pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped
8 - 10 large tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
salt to taste

Heat olive oil over medium high heat in a large pan. Add onions, garlic, eggplant and cook until the onions are translucent and the eggplant soften, stirring frequently. Toss in the olives to heat and stir a minute or so. Add all the tomatoes with their juices to the pan, along with the oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes. Cook down about five minutes, to draw out liquid and reduce. Taste and add salt to your liking.

Serve with pasta of your choice. It is especially nice with cheese filled ravioli.


Bacon Cheese Muffins

I was able to pick up some White Lily self rising flour at the Grocery Outlet, so I decided to see if it was worth all the hullaballoo. We like it for biscuits, scones and muffins so far. This is what we made with it a few weeks ago. It was delicious. If you don't have self rising flour, just use all purpose or pastry flour with the leavening necessary.

4 cups + 2 tablespoons White Lily flour
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled
2 tablespoons honey
2 eggs
1 pound bacon, diced, cooked crisp and drained somewhat (save the grease for other cooking)
1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese

Grease two 12 cup standard muffin tins. Preheat oven to 400 F.

Whisk flour and pepper in a large bowl. Pour in milk, butter, eggs and honey and whisk together to a mostly smooth, but still a few lumps, batter.

Fold in the bacon and cheese to distribute them evenly.

Scoop into prepared pans. Bake for 20 minutes, or until tops are lightly browned and the muffin springs back when you touch it with your palm. Remove from pans and serve warm.

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Sunday, October 24, 2010

Menu Plan: October 24 - October 30

We had an amazing time on our trip. It was gorgeous in Leavenworth and perfect timing: It wasn't too cold, the sun was shining, the leaves were turning and falling, the crowds weren't there because it was a weekday trip before the Christmas season. The whole place reminded me of Switzerland, the landscape around it and the Bavarian village downtown (except with wider roads). We had an amazing meal at Visconti's, the ingredients were exquisite, the flavors were perfect, the service was impeccable, I cannot come up with enough superlatives for our visit. The only downside was the table of boorish people next to us, but they left shortly and all was well again. I had a Tuscan bean soup that was so good that I will be trying to replicate here at home.

The next evening there was a reception at the conference, so we went to Via Dolce, Visconti's gelateria for gelato afterward and we stopped at Cured on our last day to buy some of the cured meats we had in our antipasta to take home with us. We also stopped by the cheese monger's and picked up some lovely cheeses, an aged gouda, some cranberry-chipotle cheddar and a chaubier. We went to Schocolat and brought home some wonderful chocolates as well. I also spent some time in the local yarn store, Wooly Bully and came home with some fun treasures.

In the 11 years we have lived in Washington, this was our first trip to Leavenworth. We will definitely return and have scoped out some great places to take the children when we do. Mariam and I had a great time walking around little Bavaria in Washington and she was adored everywhere we went. I made some decent progress on Amira's sock while we were there, too.

Our trip home was quite lackadaisical. We stopped in Cashmere and visited the Cider Mill, which was also wonderful. We picked up some of their huckleberry cider and had an incredible farm raised lunch. I will forever love Paula for thinking that we were young newlyweds with our first child. She looked shocked when we said that Mariam was our seventh and that we had been married nearly 14 years. We also finally took the Aplets and Cotlets tour. It turns out that the founders and owners of the company are cousins to us, they are Armenians and they modified a recipe for loukom to make the candy.

We are back to normal this week, so here is our menu.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Weekly Recipes: October 23

I forgot to get this posted when I returned from our trip.

Baked Apples

You may use any type apple you like, but I really like how gravensteins cook up and taste for these.

8 gravenstein apples
1 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 cup dried cranberries
2 teaspoons ceylon cinnamon (or whatever you have and like)
2 tablespoons melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Core the apples and place in a 9" X 13" pan. Mix sugar, pecans, dried cranberries, cinnamon, butter and vanilla extract. Fill each apple with the sugar mixture. Spoon any remaining filling over and around the apples in the pan.

Bake for 45 minutes, or until skin wrinkles/cracks and filling is bubbly. Serve warm, by themselves or with vanilla ice cream.

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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Finished Objects: Picot Edge Socks, Stem Down Apple Hat

I have finished two things in the past three weeks. While we were on our trip, I finished the picot edge socks for Yasmina. I actually finished one, started the other, realized I wouldn't have enough yarn to finish both, so unraveled the toe of the first and used the leftover yarn from Mariam's jacket and hat for the toes on these socks.


Here is the first sock all in the Koigu yarn.


Here is the finished pair on Yasmina's feet. There is another view of it in my FO list in the sidebar.


Here is Mariam in her apple hat. The color is much deeper than either this or the sidebar link shows. It is a darker, true red. I love this yarn, it is Blue Sky Alpaca sport weight baby alpaca in red, avocado and molasses.

I'm writing out the pattern for this hat, and will make it available if people are interested.

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Sunday, October 17, 2010

Menu Plan: October 17 - October 23

I am only cooking for part of the week as Rich's folks are coming to watch the children while we take Mariam on a fun filled business trip. I will be sight seeing and shopping while Rich is working.

The dinner tonight was great. I doubled it, but should have tripled the vegetables. The whole meal cost about $6.00 for all of us. Tripling the veggies would have added about another $0.65. This was using our own potatoes, organic peppers from the farmers' market, locally grown onions, organic garlic and organic, Washington state, small farm sausage from the Grocery Outlet (it was the price of conventional or our butcher shop). The melons were from our garden as well, and the cost above reflects our costs in the garden. Our garden has been much better to us than we deserve, considering how poorly we treated it this summer. Our melons were smaller and not as prolific as they ought to have been, but they were still good.

I'm thinking of volunteering at the local crisis pregnancy center next summer and teaching a class on budgeting, grocery shopping/eating locally, menu planning and cooking whole, nourishing foods. What do you think?What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.


Here is the pan of vegetables before I added the sausage. Those are our French fingerlings. Aren't they pretty? The squash in the background are from our garden as well.

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Saturday, October 16, 2010

Weekly Recipes: October 16

Moroccan Chicken

2 lemons
10 cloves garlic, peeled
1 inch fresh ginger, peeled
2 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 teaspoons Aleppo pepper flakes
1 teaspoon dried wild marjoram (za'atar, the herb, not the spice mix including the herb) or oregano
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon dark brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon saffron
1/3 cup olive oil
3 pounds chicken

Make three or four slashes lengthwise in each whole lemon while still leaving the lemon in one piece. Microwave the lemon with the garlic in a covered container for about 5 minutes. Let cool enough to handle. Strain and reserve juice from container.

Cut lemon into wedges and scrape pulp and most of the pith out and discard. Put lemon peel, lemon juice and garlic in a food processor or blender along with all other ingredients except the chicken. Pulse to a coarse paste and marinate chicken in the paste for at least four hours. Bake, grill or broil the chicken until cooked through.


Middle Eastern Chopped Salad

This isn't an Arab dish or any other ethnicity's, it borrows the flavors and style of that area, though.

2 cucumbers peeled, seeded and finely diced
4 roma tomatoes, finely diced (or equivalent amount of other tomatoes)
2 sweet bell peppers, seeded and finely diced
1/2 small red onion, finely diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 pound feta cheese, crumbled (I use sheep's milk feta)
1/2 pound pitted Kalamata olives, roughly chopped
1/2 cup finely chopped Italian parsley
1/4 cup finely chopped spearmint
1/4 cup red wine vinegar or fresh strained lemon juice
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 1/2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, or equivalent amount of oregano and thyme

Toss all ingredients together in a good sized bowl and serve. This keeps for a while in the fridge.


Curried Red Lentil Soup

This is a really tasty and quick vegetarian soup. Serve with some rolls, biscuits or other bread, or with yogurt cucumber salad for a full meal.

olive oil
1 large onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 teaspoons curry powder
3 cups red lentils
8 cups vegetable broth or water
1 pound diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon hot pepper flakes (depending on how hot you like it)
1/8 teaspoon saffron (optional)
salt, to taste

Heat oil in a large soup pot over medium high heat. Saute onions until translucent, add garlic and stir about a minute. Stir in curry powder and mix thoroughly with oil and onions. Add red lentils to coat with oil.

Pour in broth or water, diced tomatoes, hot pepper flakes and saffron. Bring to a low boil, then simmer for about 20 - 25 minutes, or until lentils are soft. Taste for seasoning and add salt as desired.

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Monday, October 11, 2010

Menu Plan: October 10 - 16

Well, we are back from a whirlwind tour. Rich had a business conference in Sunriver, so we had planned on leaving the older children in the care of their grandparents while we took Mariam with us on a little vacation. Then, we decided to take almost a week visiting in the Portland area, then traveling to Sunriver, then, since Alexander's birthday was that next week, spending a few days back home with his friends for his birthday, too. It was a lot of fun, but also a lot of driving.

We discovered that our children are allergic to their grandparents' house, however. They pointed out that every time the children visited them, they got sick. It happened this time, too. Part of it is the climate, we have acclimated to the dry side and when we hit the wet side, you can hear the children's sinuses clogging up as we drive, but when we went north, almost everyone got better, and it's not like they were sick all the time we lived over on that side. Jerome, however, is not doing very well. His sore throat made it hard for him to eat and drink, and he is lethargic because of the lack of energy and hydration. Please keep him in your prayers. We are trying to give him soft foods to eat and lots to drink to help him back to normal.What is on your menu this week? If you want a recipe, ask and I will provide it as soon as I can. If there are any starred recipes, I will follow up separately with a weekly recipe round up on Saturday.

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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Finally Retiring the 2008 AND 2009 FO Lists

If you look in the sidebar, you'll see that I have switched my FO list to the current list. From 2008. Yes, things have been that busy over the last two years.

2008 Finished Objects

2009 Finished Objects

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Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Fourth Finished Object of the Year

With more in sight! I will post pictures later, but I finished a whimsical pair of socks for Yasmina today. I was almost out of some rose pink Koigu, so I had to undo one of the toes, use that yarn for the foot of the second sock and knit both toes in contrasting yarn, but they are finished.

I am going to cast on for either an apple hat for Mariam or some socks for Amira out of Shepherd Sock, still trying to decide. There is also a sleeveless top that has been "finished" for some time, but is too low cut, so I need to add an edging to the neckline and the armholes (to tie them together) to correct that. Then it will be finished.

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