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Monday, April 26, 2010

Menu Plan: April 25 - May 1

Still a few repeats this week. We have another topsy turvy week, so we'll see how much actually gets accomplished.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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Sunday, April 18, 2010

Menu Plan: April 18 - April 24

There are some repeats this week as our menu was changed since there was a death in the family and our weekend was truncated with a trip back over the mountains.

So, we got less done than we wanted, but it was important to go be with family. We also found that when left to ourselves, we eat breakfast a little later, have a snack around mid-afternoon and eat a late dinner. Also, that I still cannot cook small enough quantities for two people. I reduced the amounts I made, but we ended up with plenty for meals and snacks the next day.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, April 17, 2010

Weekly Recipes: April 17

I did not actually get a chance to make this, as we had a family funeral to attend, but here is the recipe nonetheless.

Lamb and Tomatoes

1/4 cup olive oil
flour to dredge
2 pounds lamb, cut into cubes
2 onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, minced
2 pounds chopped tomatoes (I use them either fresh or from our freezer)
1 teaspoon salt (or more)
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Heat the oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Roll the lamb in flour and brown in oil. Add onions and garlic and cook until soft and transparent. Add the chopped tomatoes, salt and pepper and mix well.

Put the lid on the saucepan and simmer for at least 2 hours or until tender.
Stir it occasionally. Add a small amount of water, if necessary.

Serve with rice.

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Sunday, April 11, 2010

Menu Plan: April 11 - April 17

We don't have the children this week. It is very strange cooking for just two people now. I think the last time I did it was 11 years ago. It took me a while to even figure out how I would plan for meals this week. I am guessing that I will still cook too much, but we'll have leftovers for the children when they come home. The first half of the week will be taken up with some work things for Rich, and both of us will be eating out a lot then. The second half of the week is for us to tackle the house without children under foot. We have plans to work on projects at the house and try to get at least two other rooms completed and some work on our garden.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, April 10, 2010

Weekly Recipes: April 10

Paschal Braided Bread


I make this dough in the bread machine. It would be easy to make it by hand or in a stand mixer.

1 cup milk
2 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon salt
zest of an orange
4 cups bread flour
1/2 cup coarsely chopped almonds
2 1/2 teaspoons yeast

Process on dough cycle of bread machine. Turn dough out onto the very slightest floured surface and let rest for 15 minutes. Shape into long cylinder and bend in the middle.

Twist into three twists and join ends under the bread. It is easier to do than describe, see the picture below. Let rise for about an hour. Preheat oven to 375.

water to brush on loaf
sliced almonds to decorate
3 hard boiled eggs, dyed blood red

Brush bread with water and sprinkle with sliced almonds. Press almonds into dough. Tuck one red egg in each of the twists.

Bake for 30-35 minutes. Cool on rack.

Pascha bread unbaked.
bread before baking

Pascha Cheese

I modified a recipe I saw on a homeschool list to come up with this. It is easy, quick to put together and tasty. You can make it by hand or with a food processor. If you make it by hand, have the cheeses and butter at room temperature and use a whisk to beat them up well before adding the other ingredients.

1/2 pound ricotta cheese
1 pound cream cheese, cut into small pieces
1 pound unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 teaspoons vanilla

Process the ricotta with the metal blade to make the ricotta a little smoother.
Slowly add the cream cheese, butter and sugar, blending well. Blend in the vanilla and lemon zest.

Pour into a mold or a bowl and chill.

You can also stir in an optional 3/4 cup of sultanas (blonde raisins) and 3/4 cup slivered almonds if you like. We do not like it that way.

Laban bi Chiyar

1 quart plain yogurt (we use homemade, full fat yogurt)
1 cucumber, peeled, seeded and finely diced
1 bunch mint, leaves only, finely chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
juice of one lemon
1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
1 teaspoon black pepper

Mix all of these ingredients in a serving bowl. This can be served immediately or kept refrigerated until you are ready to serve.


Lemon Blueberry Poundcake with Lemon Glaze

3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
8 ounces butter, softened
3 cups sugar
6 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons lemon zest
2 cups frozen or fresh blueberries

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Grease and flour a bundt pan or two loaf pans.

Whisk together flour, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Beat cream cheese and butter until light, add sugar and cream well. Add eggs, one at a time, scraping down bowl as necessary. Beat in vanilla and lemon zest.

Carefully mix in flour, in thirds or fourths, mixing well after each addition. Fold in blueberries (do not thaw if they are frozen) carefully so as not to dye the batter blue.

Bake 60 - 65 minutes (70 to 75 minutes if using fresh blueberries). Cool in pan for 5 - 10 minutes, then turn out and cool on rack. Drizzle with glaze while cake is still warm, but not hot, and reserve some glaze to pass with the cake as it is served.

Lemon Glaze:

1 pound confectioners' sugar
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, softened
3 tightly packed tablespoons grated lemon zest
1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

Cream sugar and butter thoroughly.  Mix in lemon zest and juice; spread or drizzle
on warm cake.

Enchiladas Blancas

These are not Mexican or anything authentic. They are tasty and we like them, though.

2 pounds ground beef
1 1/2 large onions, diced
6 cloves garlic, roughly chopped
2 cans black olives, drained and sliced
2 tablespoons chili powder (I use a salt free blend)
2 tablespoons oregano (I use the regular kind, not the Mexican)
1 tablespoon cumin
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder

1/4 cup butter
1/2 onion, finely diced
1/4 cup flour
1 tablespoon chili powder (again, no salt)
3 cups chicken broth (I use homemade, which I don't salt, reduce the salt if you use canned)
1 cup heavy cream
2 pints sour cream
1 1/2 teaspoons salt

1 pound cheddar cheese, grated
about 40 corn tortillas

Brown ground beef with onions and garlic. Add olives and seasonings and cook until well combined and cooked through.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan and add the onions to it to soften. Stir in flour and cook for a minute or two. Sprinkle with chili powder and stir to combine. Slowly stir in chicken broth and cream. Cook five to 10 minutes, until thickened slightly and whisk in sour cream and salt. Set aside

Preheat oven to 375 F while you prepare two large pans. Put a little of the sauce in the bottom of the pans. Heat the tortillas in whatever way you wish, enough to soften them a little. Put some of the meat mixture, a little of the sauce and some of the cheese in the middle, roll up and place seam down in the pan. You should be able to make about 40 of these rolls. I squeeze the enchiladas into the pan. Cover with the remaining sauce and sprinkle generously with the cheese. Bake, uncovered, for 20-25 minutes, until heated through and cheese is melted.

I don't clean out the sauce pan, I just use it to make our rice for the meal. In the time it takes to make the rice, the enchiladas are finished. I tend to serve this with a salsa rice and black bean and corn salad. We freeze the second pan, unless we are serving a huge crowd or planning on eating it again the next day.

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Sunday, April 04, 2010

Menu Plan: Bright Week

Christ is Risen!

There is no fasting this week, not even on Friday. This is the Paschal octave in which nobody is to fast. We always have huge plans for feasting, but usually find that even after our mild fasting, it is hard to eat as much of the rich foods. We are still starting with our day of feasting and will give it the old college try. I am also looking forward to frying onion rings sometime this week. It has been a long time.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, April 03, 2010

Weekly Recipes: April 3

Crock Pot Rice Pudding

I set this up the night before, so we can eat it warm in the morning for breakfast. You can use any rice you have, but I use sushi rice because it creates the best texture (actually, vialone nano, carnaroli or arborio would make amazing rice pudding, but until we can grow them, I save them for risotto - sushi rice works well for risotto as well and it is much less expensive).

I use fresh, raw, whole milk, the cream from the top of a new bottle of milk, organic, evaporated cane juice, farm fresh eggs, good, fresh cinnamon (Vietnamese cassia actually, I use true Ceylon cinnamon in things like fruit pies) and homemade vanilla extract from good vanilla beans and vodka (or bourbon). You don't have to do so, but it is so good this way.

1 cup sushi rice
8 cups milk
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 cups fruit (either fresh, diced or dried or a mix) - optional

Put rice and milk in crock and cook, covered, on low for 6-8 hours. When rice is tender, but still has a bite continue with the rest of the recipe.

Whisk together sugar, eggs, cream, cinnamon and vanilla extract. Temper the eggs by scooping about 1/2 cup of the rice mixture into it and stirring to combine, continue to do so, 1/2 cup at a time, until about half of the rice mixture has been incorporated into the egg mixture. Carefully pour this back into the crock and stir to combine. Add any fruit at this time as well. Cover and cook on high for 30-60 minutes. You don't want it to dry out, so check.

As I said, I usually set this up the night before and do the additions in the morning before the children are ready for morning prayer. This way, it is ready as soon as we are finished with our prayers and have the table set.

If you want to serve it chilled, just scoop it into pretty bowls and refrigerate for at least 4-6 hours.

note: You can use coconut milk instead of milk, if you like. I use half dried coconut and half dried fruit for that. Also a friend said that she made this successfully with half the sugar. I tried it and it was fine that way, warm. If you plan on chilling it, I'd still use the whole amount of sugar.

Green Hot Sauce

6 cloves garlic, peeled
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 - 3 serrano type peppers, stemmed
1 large bunch cilantro (stems, too, just trim the ends a bit)
juice of two lemons
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil

Put garlic, salt, peppers, and cilantro into your blender or food processor. Whir it up in the blender, pulsing at first to grind up the garlic, salt and peppers. Add the lemon juice and olive oil and process until it is a smooth, wet, paste. You want it to be drizzly, not juice. It will thicken a little in the fridge.

Duqqus (Variation)

Add 2 medium tomatoes, cored and roughly chopped to your blender or food processor at the same time as adding the lemon juice and olive oil. You may need to increase the salt.

Barbecue Beans

1 pound pinquito or pinto type beans, rinsed and picked over
1/2 pound bacon, roughly chopped - buy the bacon ends for cooking, they are cheaper and meatier
1 large onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed with the side of your knife
1 cup diced tomatoes (fresh or canned)
1 cup chile sauce (fresh or canned - like red enchilada sauce, not tomato based)
1/2 cup tomato sauce
1 tablespoon mustard powder
1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
1/4-1/2 teaspoon chipotle powder (whatever you can handle)
salt to taste

Soak the beans for 2-4 hours. Drain water and put in a pot with water to cover (just). Cook, covered, in an oven safe pot in the oven at 325 degrees F for about 2-3 hours, until beans are cooked.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in a skillet over medium heat until fat is rendered and bacon starts to brown. Add onions and smashed garlic and cook until onions are soft and slightly browned on the edges. Add mixture to beans in pot, along with tomatoes, chile sauce, tomato sauce, mustard powder, dark brown sugar and chipotle powder. Taste for seasoning and add salt to taste.

Cook for another hour or two uncovered at 375 to reduce the sauce, thicken the beans and allow the flavors to meld.


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Friday, April 02, 2010

Good Friday

Andrea del Castagno. Crucifixion. c. 1450

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